Philadelphia Eagles: 2012 Rests Mostly on Michael Vick

Ron PasceriCorrespondent IIJanuary 6, 2012

Vick is one of the most talented athletes in all of sports.
Vick is one of the most talented athletes in all of sports.Rob Carr/Getty Images

Many things have been blamed for a poor 2011 season for the Philadelphia Eagles.  The three most popular are Juan Castillo, the linebackers and turnovers.

Some feel Castillo was starting to "get it" late in the season, which is possible.  Some feel, with no real reason for belief, the Eagles will significantly upgrade the linebacker position in the offseason. 

But more than anything else, optimists will say the Eagles would have won at least 10 games if not for turnovers.  So the thinking there has to be that they will turn the ball over less next season, right?  Maybe, but maybe not.

Much has been made of Michael Vick's development as a passer under the quarterback gurus known as Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg, but with two seasons worth of evidence, is it really true?

Vick was known in Atlanta as an athlete who could make plays, but didn't take the quarterback position seriously and was reckless with his body and careless with the ball.

In his 74-game career in Atlanta, Vick missed 14 games due to injury, or 15.9 percent.  Vick is very different from most quarterbacks, so he will be measured differently.  All of his numbers will be combined into totals of his rushing and passing statistics.

In 2,259 attempts, Vick generated 92 touchdowns, but also 79 turnovers.  He turned the ball over 1.1 times per game and on 3.5 percent of his total plays.

As strictly a passer, he threw 52 interceptions in 1,730 attempts for an interception percentage of 3.0.

Vick has been the starter in Philadelphia for two seasons now.  He has played 25 games while missing six due to injury, 19.4 percent.

He has totaled 971 passing and rushing attempts and created 49 touchdowns and 27 turnovers.  He has turned the ball over 1.1 times per game, same as in Atlanta.  He has turned the ball over on 2.8 percent of his plays, a marked improvement.

As a passer, he has thrown 795 passes and has been intercepted 20 times, just an interception percentage of 2.5.  Another significant improvement.

The thing is, Vick's story as the Eagles starter has two very distinct periods.  There was the scintillating, video game-like first seven games and then the last 18.

Vick was truly sensational in the first seven games.  He had 246 total attempts and created 16 touchdowns and an almost unbelievable zero turnovers.  People felt Vick was something the league had never seen before.

Since then, though, the results have been significantly different.

In his last 18 games, Vick has totaled 725 attempts and threw or ran for 33 touchdowns.  He also turned the ball over 27 times.  That is 1.5 turnovers per game and he turned it over on 3.7 percent of his plays. 

He has thrown 20 interceptions in 604 pass attempts for an interception percentage of 3.3, even worse than with the Falcons.

Vick has turned the ball over at least once in 17 of his last 19 games.

So for everyone who thinks a healthy Michael Vick is the answer for all that ails the Eagles, you better hope he studies a lot this offseason.  You better hope he develops an understanding of how to better protect himself.

You also better hope that a full offseason of preparation for both himself and Andy Reid make a huge difference.

More than anything, hope that he can really gain an understanding of his poor decision-making and carelessness with the football.

Michael Vick is a tremendous talent and one of the most enjoyable athletes to watch in sports.  If there is anyone who has enough ability, heart and determination to turn their fortunes around next season, it is Vick.

Vick is a guy who desires to win and hates to lose and that is always a great place to start.  The problem is, a horse generally doesn't change its colors and it doesn't appear that Vick truly has either.

More than anything else, a bounce-back season from Vick will decide the fate of the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles.