Eagles' Vick off to a winning start

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

LANDOVER, Md. - Rebirth or retread?

The truth is that it's going to take at least 10 good games for people to acknowledge that Michael Vick has experienced the former, but it will take considerably fewer bad performances for him to be labeled as the latter.

But as far as opening night performances go, even Vick's harshest critics must admit that the 33-year-old quarterback played well.

At the end of the Eagles' 33-27 victory over Washington, Vick's final statistics seemed far less than what his play had generated.

But maybe that's the beauty of Eagles coach Chip Kelly's warp-speed offense.

Vick isn't being asked to make all of the plays. His primary responsibility is to make the right ones. That's really what the read-option attack is about.


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It's not about being pass-happy. It's not about being run-happy. It's about the quarterback figuring out which is the right call at the right time and then making it happen.

That was the brilliance of Vick against D.C. Under his guidance, the Eagles' attack moved up, down and all around FedEx Field.

The 31 points the offense put up [the other two came from a safety] were the most it has scored since getting 34 against Washington on Jan.1, 2012.

It was Vick being smart and efficient.

Like most offenses, Kelly's can't work correctly if the quarterback can't get things right. And in Game 1, Vick certainly had things right.

While Washington fans were praising the long-awaited return of quarterback Robert Griffin III, it was the old prototype who stole the show.

Yes, Griffin III completed 30 of 49 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions.

On the surface, Vick didn't have huge statistics, but he had a 112.6 quarterback rating, completing 15 of 25 passes for 203 yards.

Vick had touchdown passes of 25 yards to DeSean Jackson and 28 yards to Brent Celek. He also had nine carries for 56 yards with a touchdown.

Still what Vick "read" the most was that running back LeSean McCoy was a weapon Washington had no answer for.

Vick put the ball in McCoy's hands a career-high 31 times. Shady responded with 184 rushing yards, one off his career-high, and a touchdown.

"LeSean is going to have a great year," Vick said. "He's going to do some dynamic things. I think tonight everyone had an opportunity to see exactly what coach has been trying to preach to us over the last three months."

This was the "Michael Vick Experience" tempered with the discipline of 10 years of NFL wisdom. This was what you hope will be a season-long act from Vick.

"I just tell coach what I like and coach is going to do what I like," Vick said. "When it's going to happen, I don't know.

"I just try to make sure I execute it when it's called and give him the opportunity to have the confidence in me that I can get it done."

No, he was not perfect.

Vick is dangerous on the move but he is still diving headfirst instead of sliding feet first. He again took some big hits, some that were his own fault.

Vick's penchant for getting injured has been the biggest drawback in his career.

"I pretty much can control everything that happens out there on the field," Vick said about taking hits. "I didn't put myself in a position to protect myself at times, but that's what I train for.

"You know that's why I weigh 220 pounds now."

Um, not the correct logic.

If he's going to expose himself to a big sideline hit at the end of a 36-yard run when what was required had already been accomplished at 33, Vick will inevitably end up on the sidelines for a few games nursing an injury.

"I wish he would never get hit at all," Kelly said, "but that is the game we play. I thought he did a good job.

"I know there are one or two throws that he would like to have back. We had a couple of protection breakdowns that weren't him. I though he did a nice job."

Realistically, Vick's only major mistake came with an asterisk.

If you believe the swing pass that Vick threw to McCoy on the game's first drive was correctly ruled a lateral, then Vick did technically have a fumble - something he struggled mightily with last season.

Personally, I think it was so close a call that if the play had been ruled an incomplete pass it would have stood up under video review.

The important thing was Vick did not let his early mistake snowball.

On two drives taking just 10 plays and less than three minutes, Vick quickly had the Birds up 10-7.

When the game was being decided in the first three quarters, Vick orchestrated the Eagles to a 33-7 before Washington mounted a comeback that came up short.

It's just the first game, and there has to be a lot more performances like this before people will be convinced the Eagles are in the position to win with Vick guiding the show.

If he drops the ball on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers, a lot of the old questions will spring back to the forefront.

But that's something to be addressed if, or when, it happens.

After the first game of the Kelly era, Vick showed he is a capable of being the guy to run this thing at a high level. That's all that Eagles fans can ask for.


Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Columns: ph.ly/Smallwood

Blog: ph.ly/DNL


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