The Michael Vick breathwatch has begun. The question is simple: when will the last gulp of air be forced from his body by another hit?
It was the overarching question for the Eagles on a disaster of an afternoon in Arizona. During a game where very little went right, in any phase, Vick was pulverized by the Cardinals’ impressive defense. If the Eagles’ quarterback wasn’t hit 20 times during the Eagles’ 27-6 defeat, the number was in that black-and-blue neighborhood. And if he survived this day, and he did, he cannot survive many more.
Easily half of the damage was self-inflicted, hits that could have been avoided if Vick were willing to throw the ball sooner. That isn’t to argue that there were tons of people open -- Jeremy Maclin did not play because of a hip injury and, yes, it did matter -- but Vick’s continued insistence on hanging on and then hanging on some more in the hope that something good might happen is borderline masochistic at this point. He really is hurting himself.
The other half of the hits could be blamed on an offensive line re-jiggered because of injuries, and on pass-first play-calling in the first half despite all of the punishment being absorbed by Vick, and by the fact that the Cardinals’ defense is very good. But the total punishment was the total punishment, and two more Vick fumbles were two more turnovers for the league leaders in that department.