Update: Lots of good feeback on this post, so I answered some questions in a second post.
I was doing some research over the weekend for an offseason project and came across a couple Michael Vick nuggets worth sharing.
As we approach mini-camps, OTAs and eventually training camp, there will be a lot written and said about Vick's injuries and how his ability to stay healthy will go a long way in determining the Eagles' success in 2012.
For the record, I agree with that part.
But the rest of the narrative might focus on Vick's "reckless" play. You might hear that he missed three games last year and failed to finish two more. And that those injuries occurred because Vick too often left the pocket, scrambled or refused to slide.
That notion, I discovered, is a bit misguided.
I went back and looked at Vick's injuries from a year ago. By my count, there were four significant ones reported by the team: the concussion that knocked him out of the Falcons game; the bruised right hand that knocked him out of the first Giants meeting; the finger injury against the 49ers; and the two broken ribs against the Cardinals that caused him to miss the next three games.
Here's a breakdown of what happened on the four plays where Vick is believed to have sustained those injuries.
Concussion: Vick dropped back and completed a 9-yard pass to Jeremy Maclin. But LeSean McCoy did a poor job of picking up blitzing Falcons safety William Moore on Vick's front side. Moore hit Vick, who spun around and bumped into right tackle Todd Herremans. He left the game with a concussion. But this injury had nothing to do with Vick being reckless. He executed the play well, and his teammate (McCoy) didn’t do his job. It was also a freak injury. Vick did not suffer the concussion because he was hit by Moore. It happened because he collided with his own right tackle.
Bruised right hand: The Eagles ran a play-action fake against the Giants, and Vick delivered a beautiful 23-yard completion to Maclin. This was not a designed roll-out, but rather, Vick stayed in the pocket. Giants defensive lineman Chris Canty nailed him right under the chin with his helmet. A penalty could have been called on the play, but the refs didn't throw a flag, causing Vick to publicly complain about receiving unfair treatment in his post-game press conference. But again, Vick was in the pocket and completed a pass on the play.
Injured finger: By now, you may be starting to sense a pattern. Against San Francisco, Vick stood in the pocket and delivered a 7-yard completion to McCoy. But 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith got some pressure against Jason Peters around the edge and hit Vick's finger as he released the football. The play occurred in the second quarter, but Vick completed 30 of 46 passes for 416 yards in the game.
Broken ribs: And finally, Andy Reid said Vick sustained two broken ribs on the second play of the Cardinals game when linebacker Daryl Washington came untouched on Vick's front side and nailed him as he got rid of the ball to Brent Celek for a 13-yard gain. Vick went on to play perhaps his worst game as an Eagle, completing just 16 of 34 passes for 128 yards and a pair of interceptions.
Four injuries on four plays. And in each instance, Vick not only was in the pocket, but he completed the pass.
Don't get me wrong. Vick needs to do his best to avoid unnecessary hits. He needs take care of his body and the football for the Eagles' offense to be successful.
But any suggestion that the injuries he sustained in 2011 were due to him leaving the pocket, running recklessly or not sliding are off-base.