Michael Vick struggled through arguably his worst season as a pro in 2011, but he will return to being an MVP candidate in 2012. Vick enters the second year of a six-year, $100 million extension and he has all the weapons surrounding him that will help him put up the best year of his career.
Vick is 32 years old, and he has suffered numerous injuries as of late. He struggled to stay on the field last year, and the Philadelphia Eagles finished just 8-8 despite preseason expectations that the team would compete for the conference championship.
Michael Vick has been inconsistent since he was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 NFL draft, and some of the main points of criticism for Vick has been his inability to stay healthy, his frightening inconsistency, and his struggles in reading opposing defenses.
Vick was remarkable down the stretch with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010, throwing 21 touchdowns to just six interceptions while helping the team to a division title. Vick threw for 3,018 yards in just 11 starts, setting career highs in completion percentage (62.6) and passer rating (100.2), while rushing for 676 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.
He missed three games due to rib injuries last year and was ineffective when he did play. He threw a career-worst 14 interceptions, saw his completion percentage drop three points, and his passer rating plummet to 84.9, and he fumbled the ball a ridiculous 10 times. That’s not the Vick he can be, and there’s no reason to expect him to play as poorly in 2012 as he did in 2011.
The Philadelphia Eagles entered 2011 with expectations to be a powerhouse in the league, thanks largely to backup quarterback Vince Young’s claims that the team was a “Dream Team.”
The Eagles struggled to a 1-4 start and finished just 8-8, missing the playoffs in an easy NFC East that saw the New York Giants win it with just nine wins. The Giants ended up winning the Super Bowl, which puts them as easy favorites heading into 2012, and the Washington Redskins have drafted their future franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
The Eagles could win the division, but no one is expecting them to do it. Most people assume it will be a three-team race among the Giants, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Eagles, and that bodes well for Michael Vick and the Eagles, as they won’t have a constant spotlight on them.
The Philadelphia Eagles enter 2012 without All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters, arguably the game’s finest offensive lineman. Peters suffered a torn Achilles tendon during the offseason and will likely miss all of the 2012 season.
Peters will be replaced by Demetress Bell, a solid enough left tackle but certainly no Peters. Bell has played well in his three-year NFL career, although he has struggled to stay healthy himself. He will be helped though by the rest of the line, as the Eagles have a very solid crew that will help to protect Michael Vick.
Left guard Evan Mathis was the game’s best overall offensive lineman in 2011, per Pro Football Focus. Center Jason Kelce is poised for a breakout campaign, and right guard Danny Watkins is a first-round pick who showed growing pains in last year’s rookie season but should improve tremendously in 2012.
And Todd Herremans at right tackle is as solid as a rock, and he has Pro Bowl talent, which is important considering he protects Vick’s blind side. This group will be instrumental in keeping Vick on his feet for all 16 games.
The Philadelphia Eagles have an unbelievably talented offensive team. Running back LeSean McCoy is an All-Pro who totaled 1,309 ground yards last year and led the league with 20 total touchdowns in 2011. Wide receiver DeSean Jackson is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, and now that he signed a five-year extension with the team, he will be trouble for opposing defenses for years to come.
Jeremy Maclin is an extremely solid No. 2 receiver, and Jason Avant is a terrific slot receiver. Add in Brent Celek at tight end—one of the league’s most underrated players—and Vick has a tremendous team around him.
Michael Vick is 32 years old, but he still has the talent to take over a game like few quarterbacks in the history of the league can do. He has a cannon of an arm, he can be unbelievably accurate, and he is a dangerous threat to take off and run every time he wants, and that’s why he has made four Pro Bowls in seven seasons as a starter.
Remember that game he had against the Washington Redskins in 2010 when he threw for four touchdowns and ran for two more? That’s indicative of what Vick can do when he’s on his game. If he can put it together late in the season when the playoffs roll around, watch out.