Is Michael Vick starting to feel the pressure already? Is he getting a little snippy due to stress? Or is his personality coming out a little more these days because he feels a little more comfortable?
Lately, he's been uncharacteristically edgy in interviews with the media.
It began earlier this month when Vick seemed to get annoyed with all the questions regarding his style of play and staying healthy. Maybe you recall his response:
"I really don't think I need to discuss what type of game I'm going to play. It's going to be what it's going to be. It seems like the questions are becoming repetitive, and I'm tired of answering it because the only thing we can do is wait and see if I'm going to play a more disciplined game.
There's not too much more to say or to talk about. There's no reason to keep digging and to [be] talking about it and saying, 'Change your style. Are you holding the ball too long?' I'm over that. That's not the reason, and I think sometimes people make assumptions not really knowing what needs to be done."
Granted, "normal people" get annoyed if they're repeatedly asked the same questions all the time, so on that level, I can understand. However, dealing with the media hounding you over and over again about the same topic is something professional athletes have to deal with as part of their job.
Don't get me wrong, I like it when players speak their mind. It's much better than the usual canned-responses most of them give.
But this is Michael Vick, the star quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles and leader of the team on the field. His words speak louder than any other member of the team.
Since joining the Eagles, Vick has been more on the quiet and humble side and hasn't said much more than positive things or expressions of remorse and gratitude.
Then just yesterday, Vick was talking with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic and said his ranking of 70th on the NFL Network's Top 100 players was "a joke." Here was his response (quotes provided by Dan Hanzus of NFL.com):
"Yeah, it's a joke," Vick told 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia. "I mean, I won't say where I need to be, I let my peers and everybody else decide on that. Maybe it was voted on by the peers, but I just disagree. I know how good I am and what I bring to the table for my football team and the things I can do on the football field sometimes can be uncanny but I give a lot of credit to my coaches and the people around me."
"They got me ranked 70, I think the thing to do now is go out and prove why I feel like I should be even higher."
"If that's what they felt and based on what happened last year, then I got to deal with it," he said. "It's motivation, so thank you because they've motivated me to become a better player this year so I have that in the back of my mind as I go out and play this year as well."
So again, Vick is taking offense to something and being vocal about it with the media. Of course, this wasn't directed at the media, but it shows he's actually bothered that his fellow players don't think more highly of him.
To be honest, I can't agree with Vick's response here. To say "it's a joke" is going a little overboard. First of all, these rankings are by his peers, or in other words, people who are on the inside and "in the know."
Furthermore, Vick's performance in 2011 wasn't anything better than merely average. He wasn't the special player who took the league by storm in his 2010 resurrection year.
He could have been a little more accepting of that ranking and just say hey, 2011 wasn't a great year for me and I know I need to do a better job, etc etc. However, he apparently disagrees with his peers' assessment of last season.
Come on Mike, 18 turnovers in 16 games is not good (many of them in the red zone) and your team went 8-8 and missed the playoffs. You also didn't score nearly as many TDs as you did the year before and you're susceptible to injury.
Should you expect to be ranked higher?
I don't. Not based on last year. And honestly, who cares? It has no bearing on how Vick will perform in 2012. If he uses this as extra motivation, so be it.
Vick also recently created a mini-stir amongst fans and some media when he tweeted "Super Bowl, that is all." Now, I initially didn't think anything of it and just thought it was Vick being positive (and I'm sure that's all it was).
However, some folks took it as he was guaranteeing a Super Bowl and others even took it a step further and started going down the whole "dream team" path with it.
And to that, I say: Don't be ridiculous and stop reading too much into things!
Anyway, while each of these things are non-issues when looked at separately, when looked at cumulatively, they may signify a subtle change in Vick. Whether the change is good or bad is hard to tell.
Perhaps he is already feeling the pressure that this year is going to be make-or-break for him since he could realistically be cut afterwards. He may also feel additional pressure to succeed because his performance could not only affect his future with the Eagles beyond 2012, but Andy Reid's future as well.
Michael Vick feels indebted to Reid because Reid gave him a chance when not many other teams would (if any). Reid stuck his neck out when he brought Vick in, knowing the public backlash that would follow.
Not only that, but then Reid gambled even more on Vick by trading away Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb and rolling with Vick as his starter. Therefore, the two men are intertwined with one another and both of their futures with the Eagles may very well parallel each other.
Vick could absolutely be putting more pressure on himself because of this.
Of course, Vick's apparent snippiness lately may just be him allowing his personality to come out a little more. Maybe he's getting a little more "fiery" and acting a little more tough so that his teammates see how serious he is.
I sincerely hope this isn't stress coming out and it is, in fact, Vick just gaining an edge.
Exuding confidence and being a little edgy is probably a good thing for a team that failed to live up to expectations last season. As Vick himself said, the Eagles will go as he goes.
I'll take a fired-up and edgy Vick over a worried and stressed-out one any day of the week.