For Michael Vick, this won’t be his first time returning to Atlanta, a place where he had so many highlights in a Falcons uniform. He played as an Eagle in 2009 in Atlanta. However, it was in a backup role.
This time around, Vick will be at the helm for the Eagles, making his first start in Atlanta since 2006.
For the Eagles, this is going to be a very tough test early on in the season. For Vick, it’s a chance to rekindle some magic on the same field he spent six seasons on as a member of the Falcons.
Revenge isn’t going to be a motive here for Vick. Instead, he’ll be looking to prove to the Eagles that they’ve made the right choice in choosing him as their franchise quarterback of the future. He’ll be looking to prove that he can lead his team to a victory against one of the best teams in the NFC.
Here are 10 predictions I have for Vick in his first start in Atlanta since 2006.
I think this is pretty much a given. As mentioned, this isn’t the first time that Vick will return to Atlanta playing for the Eagles. He played there in 2009 and received a warm welcome from the fans.
His role was much different then though, and he wasn’t looked at as a player who’d have a significant impact on the game. He ended up playing much more than we originally believed, and he shined.
This time around, he may be viewed as more of an enemy as he’ll be the starting quarterback for the opposing team. However, Vick has a huge following in Atlanta, and despite of what he did off the field, he is still loved.
If the Eagles announce their offensive starters before the game, I believe Vick may very well receive more cheers then anyone announced from the Falcons.
Once the game starts, Falcons fans will clearly be cheering on their team, but at the end of the day, they’ll still show plenty of love for Vick.
This game is going to be a battle between two very explosive offenses. Both teams were in the top 10 in the NFL in points per game last season, and I don’t expect much of a change in 2011.
Outside of Vick, the Eagles have an incredible amount of playmakers on offense who can score at anytime. Vick has the ability to make plays himself, but he also has a variety of targets to distribute to in order to put points on the board.
Behind Matt Ryan, the Falcons also have some very talented playmakers and have shown that they are a force to be reckon with when they play at home.
Both defenses will have their hands full, and it’s going to be extremely difficult for either of them to stop their opponent from scoring.
This game has shootout written all over it, and I think we’ll see both offenses lighting up the scoreboard.
In 2010, Vick stepped in as the starting quarterback and showed that he was ready to use all of the weapons he had at his disposal.
DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin may be the most dynamic receiver duo in the league right now, and both of them love to make plays down the field. Jackson is the biggest home-run threat, but Maclin is just as explosive and can’t be overlooked.
Both guys also have the ability to make a short catch and turn it into a bunch of yards in a flash. We’ve seen both do it before, and I don’t think that’s going to stop anytime soon.
Throw Jason Avant and Riley Cooper into the mix, and the receiving corps is even more deadly. Also, you can’t forget about LeSean McCoy catching balls out of the backfield.
With weapons like this, it’s easy for a quarterback to go over the 300-yard mark.
As I just mentioned, it’s not hard for a quarterback to rack up a lot of yards with the group of receivers the Eagles have. At the same time, you know these guys aren’t just going to gain yardage, they’re going to score.
In the 10 regular season games that Vick played from start to finish, he threw for two or more touchdowns seven times.
This came through a combination of Vick making accurate throws and his receivers making plays for him.
The Eagles have such a deep group of players on offense who can catch the ball and make plays that it’s very easy to rack up touchdowns. Factor in how many times the Eagles throw the ball per game, and it’s almost disappointing for Vick to have a game without two or more passing touchdowns.
In a game that I believe will be a shootout, there’s no doubt that Vick shouldn’t have at least two passing touchdowns.
Vick had a nice stretch of games last season where he didn’t throw a single interception. He was progressing through all of his reads and finding the open receiver every time. This is a big reason why he catapulted himself into consideration for the NFL MVP award.
However, including the Wild Card game against the Packers, Vick threw for at least one interception in his last six games.
Part of this can be equated to the inconsistent play of his offensive line. It seemed that towards the end of the year, Vick began to lose confidence in his line and began forcing some of his throws.
At this point, we don’t know what the Eagles line will look like early in the season. Hopefully, they will be better.
Vick will likely be asked to throw a lot of passes in this game, and I think one may very well end up in the hands of the wrong team.
As mentioned, the Eagles offensive line has some work to do this offseason. We don’t know how it will look once the season starts, but it’s not going to turn into the best line in the league overnight.
Vick will see pressure as teams know that the Eagles line struggled down the stretch last season. With that in mind, Vick will be forced to use his legs to make plays on his own. This isn’t overly concerning as we’ve see what this guy can do when he breaks out of the pocket.
Also, with a set of legs like Vick’s, the Eagles will try to catch the Falcons off guard and send Vick on some designated running plays. He’s too talented to not take advantage of this.
Whether he’s running because he has to or because he’s supposed to, Vick should be able to rack up some yards on the quick Atlanta turf.
Vick had 21 rushing touchdowns during his six seasons with the Falcons. Although he’s a bit more conserved now, looking to pass more before he throws, we saw that same spark many times last season.
His speed didn’t look quite like it did in Atlanta when he first joined the Eagles, but last year he looked every bit as explosive as ever.
Vick will definitely be off and running during this game, and I think he’ll be able to do it with a lot of success.
I believe this game will account for a lot of scoring, and I think that Vick will have multiple opportunities to punch one in with his feet somewhere in the red zone. At the end of the day, I think he’ll convert on one of those opportunities.
I’ve mentioned this a couple of times now. The Eagles offensive line struggled down the stretch, and Vick found himself under a lot of pressure.
Howard Mudd will have some new faces to work with this offseason, but it’s unsure how much time he’ll get to spend with them because of the lockout. Also, it’s unknown what new faces will be on the team that weren’t there last year.
I think the Eagles line will be improved in 2011, but with this being the second game of the season, they’ll still be trying to gel.
The Falcons will likely try to attack weaknesses across the line and not let Vick get comfortable when he drops back. As illusive as he is, I still think Vick will wind up on his back at least twice.
When Vick takes off, you have to hold your breath. Every time he pulls the ball down to run, he has the ability to break off a big play.
This turns out to be scary for both teams. For the opposition, he’s so talented as a runner that you pray someone can bring him down in the open field. For the Eagles, you hope he doesn’t push it too far and get himself injured.
At this point of the season, inside a dome, I think we’ll see the lightning quick feet out of Vick that we’re used to seeing.
In his first start in Atlanta since 2006, I think he’s going to put on a show. Included in this show should be multiple runs for large chunks of yardage.
At the end of the day, this is what’s most important. I could get all of the rest of my predictions wrong and still be happy as long as this one is right.
Vick will feel the same way. Even if he doesn’t throw for over 300 yards or throw for multiple touchdowns, he’ll be happy if his team gets the win. More than likely, he’ll have a big impact on the outcome, but winning is winning.
It will be extremely early in the season, but if the Eagles get this victory, it would be a big step in the right direction in 2011. Beating a team like Atlanta in their house would definitely catch the attention of those other teams around the NFC and let them know the Eagles are for real.
At the end of this game, I believe that statement will be made.