After an MVP-worthy 2010 season, Vick regressed greatly in 2011 and his struggles contributed greatly to the failure of the Eagles to make the postseason. Yes, many factors contributed to Vick's poor play, such as poor offensive line play and a disgruntled DeSean Jackson, but many observers saw Vick's play revert more to the Vick of old: a turnover prone scrambler who cannot stay healthy.
However, there have also been stretches where Vick played very well, and Vick deserves much of the credit for 8 wins of the 2011 season. Had Vick been able to stay healthy for just a couple more games, it's likely the Eagles would have made the playoffs, as he averaged around a 100 passer rating in games where he was 100 percent.
Despite their abysmal 2011 season, the Eagles seem poised to bounce back in 2012, and many pundits still consider them the favorites to win the NFC East. Part of this is due to the improvements the Eagles made on defense this offseason, but it's also due to Vick's improved play in the final games of the season, sparking the Eagles offense back to its explosive 2010 self.
Ultimately, this Eagles team is an offensive team, and it, therefore, will go as far as Vick will take it. Vick can be expected to improve, but to expect him to return to his 2010 self is unrealistic. The league has learned how to effectively game plan against him, and he will no longer lead the league in fantasy points every single week.
Here are four realistic expectations for Vick in 2012...
Vick ended the 2010 season with a 100 passer rating, and he even went half of the season without throwing a single interception. But eventually, he came back to earth and looked very mortal in 2011.
A full offseason for Vick to gel with the Eagles offense and for him to further grasp the system should decrease his turnovers and increase his efficiency. But don't expect Vick to return to his 2010 form.
He will be an excellent quarterback, a top-10 one, but elite quarterbacks post consistent 100 passer-rating seasons, and it's unlikely Vick will reach that level next season. But still, Vick will be an excellent quarterback and will post a passer rating of above 90.
It is innate in Vick's playing style for him to scramble. To tell him not to play like that would be to change Vick's identify as a player. But after all the injuries, Vick has stated that he will slide more often and will protect himself from injury now.
Vick is an injury-prone player and always has been. He clearly knows that now and will be attempting to change his playing style to more of a pocket passer as Donovan McNabb did in his later years. With that in mind, don't expect Vick to rack up tons of rushing touchdowns, as he will be looking more to score with his arm than his legs.
He knows now that not only does injury affect him, but the entire fate of the Eagles team could depend upon his ability to stay healthy.
In both of his seasons with the Eagles, Vick has missed multiple games due to an inability to stay healthy. Expect the same to happen to him in 2012, even if he puts in an extra effort to slide.
While Vick made many plays outside of the pocket in 2011, his injury against the Cardinals also occurred in the pocket. At 31 years of age, this trend can be expected to continue for Vick.
Despite the media outrage about the bounty programs and Roger Goodell's efforts to curtail the practice, opponents certainly know that Vick is injury-prone. Bounty or no bounty, they will hit him constantly and hard to try to knock him out of the game. Expect Vick to miss another few games in 2012 due to injury.
In 2011, Vick too frequently threw fourth-quarter interceptions and did not play big when he needed to. But that does not mean Vick does not win for Philadelphia. Look at the 2010 season for evidence, where Vick was instrumental to key wins and clutch plays against the Colts and the Giants.
It's clear that the Eagles are a better football team with Vick at the helm, and it's Vick who gives the Eagles the best chance to win and who would lead the Eagles on a deep playoff run.
So long as Vick plays for the majority of the season, he will win games for the Eagles and should be able to get them into the postseason.