Is Michael Vick Ruining Chip Kelly's High-Octane Offense?

Brad Gagnon NFL National ColumnistSeptember 20, 2013

The honeymoon is already over. The Philadelphia Eagles are now 1-2 under new head coach/offensive king of the universe Chip Kelly and on the path toward 1-3 with a trip to Denver on the Week 4 horizon. 

The Eagles have lost back-to-back games for myriad reasons. The defense inexplicably can't stop run-of-the-mill slot receivers on crossing routes. The offensive line has been far from special despite the returns of Jason Peters, Jason Kelce and Todd Herremans. There have been costly special teams gaffes and too many missed tackles.

But the biggest takeaway from Thursday night's 26-16 home loss to former head coach Andy Reid and his Kansas City Chiefs is that Michael Vick simply isn't reliable or consistent enough to take this team anywhere close to the promised land.

Vick is 33 years old. Quarterbacks don't evolve or improve much at that age. Anyone who thought he'd turn it around under Kelly and suddenly become a good decision-maker had midnight green-colored glasses on. 

For two weeks worth of fool's gold against the Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers and their mediocre defenses, we saw Vick succeed in Kelly's offense. But as soon as Kansas City's deep, talented and feisty D came to town Thursday, everything changed. 

We saw Vick's familiar foibles re-appear.

We saw him stare down tight end Brent Celek on an amateur-hour pick-six less than four minutes into the game:

We saw him turn the ball over two other times, including on a sloppy second-quarter interception that featured a trifecta of bad quarterbacking—bad decision, bad throw and bad footwork:

We saw him wilt under pressure, as he's been known to do time and again. He took five sacks—which Kelly won't tolerate—and again was hit far too often. 

Even on what was, to his credit, a pretty touchdown pass to Jason Avant, Vick was crushed by Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson:

Ultimately, he completed only 13 of his 30 passes. The cherry on top came when he injured his ankle while being sacked, then fumbling to essentially sum up Philadelphia's night in the final moments of the loss:

In the aftermath of that high-octane season-opening victory over the Redskins in Week 1, nobody was asking if the infamously mistake-prone Vick would suddenly re-appear and wreck what the Eagles seemed to be building. The only question, at that point, was whether the Eagles could keep Vick and his weapons healthy. After all, he was limping during the second half after taking a slew of hits in that game. 

His health is still in jeopardy. The guy has missed 13 games in three seasons due to injury and is now absorbing more hits than ever. But it also doesn't look as though Vick will be able to sustain the prowess he displayed in that Monday Night Football opener. 

We shouldn't be surprised. Vick was never considered to be an especially good fit for Kelly's offense. Frankly, had there been a better option in this year's draft, he'd probably be long gone. He was the least rotten apple in a bad batch. 

He was never cut out for this, which is part of the reason the Eagles have already been forced to get away from Kelly's bread and butter. The novelty hasn't necessarily worn off, but Vick just doesn't have the ability to run such an economical and dynamic offense at the NFL level. 

Remember all the plays these guys were supposed to run? The Eagles have now run 198 plays this season, which on a per-game basis is right around the league average. Their opponents have run 226. 

The pace has slowed, and the shine has come off. They're turning it over now, too, and partly as a result, they've controlled the ball only 34 percent of the time in their last two losses. 

I'm sure that for as long as Vick is able to stay healthy, he'll have some nice moments under Kelly's guidance in a talented offense, but you can't teach a 33-year-old quarterback new tricks. He's just too reckless and simply isn't disciplined enough to help an already-flawed team contend in 2013.


Screenshots courtesy of NFL Network