Michael Vick: 7 Biggest Factors in His Continued Ascent to Quarterback Elite

Frank PassalacquaAnalyst IIJune 5, 2011

Michael Vick: 7 Biggest Factors in His Continued Ascent to Quarterback Elite

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    HONOLULU - JANUARY 30:  Michael Vick, #7 of the NFC Philadelphia Eagles passes against the American Football Conference team (AFC) during the 2011 NFL Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium on January 30, 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii.  (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Image
    Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

    Along with this famous resurgence of the career of Michael Vick comes doubt in many people's minds. It is for sure an amazing story about being given a second chance, and Mike Vick lived that opportunity to the fullest in 2010.

    However, "fluke" is often tossed around in the same conversation as Vick.

    Yes, Vick had an MVP-caliber season, but will he be the same player he was last season? Many people say no, it's not possible. Winning NFL Comeback Player of the Year is an honor, especially giving the circumstances surround his life that surfaced. 

    I, for one, think that Vick will have another outstanding season, one even better than in 2010. 

    Vick will shortly be turning 31 years old, and Philadelphia is notorious for cutting players as soon as they hit 30. Re-signing Vick as soon as this dreaded lockout lifts proves that the Eagles have their sights set on Vick being the face of the franchise.

    So with all the questions around the league about how Vick will do next year, he will surely have the league's spotlight throughout the season. Here are the seven reasons why Michael Vick will have a better season in 2011 than in 2010. 

7. Tom Brady Winning MVP

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    FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 02:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown by teammate BenJarvis Green-Ellis in the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins on January 2, 2011 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Sure, when Tom Brady won the MVP award for the 2010 season, Vick didn't seem to mind. But we all know that when we lose something and act like it's no big deal, deep down we're thinking 'I wish I would've won.'

    Vick did win the Comeback Player of the Year award, and that in my mind is just as important as winning MVP.

    Vick will enter the 2011 season with a little chip on his shoulder about everything that has gone wrong last year, and will try his best to take the MVP trophy to his home. 

    Look at this list of the MVP winners over the past 10 years and tell me that a player wouldn't want their name on this list:

    2001
    Kurt Warner, QB - St. Louis Rams 
    • Marshall Faulk, RB - St. Louis Rams 
    2002
    • Rich Gannon, QB - Oakland Raiders 
    2003
    Peyton Manning, QB - Indianapolis Colts
    • Steve McNair, QB - Tennessee Titans  (tie)
    2004
    • Peyton Manning, QB - Indianapolis Colts
    2005
    • Shaun Alexander, RB - Seattle Seahawks 
    2006
    LaDainian Tomlinson, RB - San Diego Chargers 
    2007
    • Tom Brady, QB - New England Patriots 
    2008
    • Peyton Manning, QB - Indianapolis Colts 
    2009
    • Peyton Manning, QB - Indianapolis Colts
    2010
    • Tom Brady, QB - New England Patriots 

    As you can see, these are all pretty prestigious names that have certainly had a stand-out career in the NFL. It is just a matter of time before Michael Vick has his name on his list, and 2011 might be that year. 

6. The Lockout

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    NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 21: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addresses the media during the NFL Annual Meetings at the Roosevelt Hotel on March 21, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Despite a NFL owners imposed lockout in effect since March 12 the league is c
    Sean Gardner/Getty Images

    "We want football!" cheered every fan at this year's NFL Draft as Goodell took the stage. I must say, seeing his face and the numerous times he said "I know" still makes me laugh.

    Anyway, the NFL lockout. As the glimmering hope of fans around the country start to fade about everything being back to normal soon, the players are surely taking advantage of this time off.

    The lockout is giving players extra time to study, workout, and better their skills without it being mandatory. 

    We all saw how Vick progressed over one season on the bench. Now add a full summer and time to workout, and that could be scary.

    I'll admit this, last season I was a spectator at the Eagles training camp, and Vick looked horrible. He threw more interceptions than completed passes, and Kafka even looked sharp compared to him. Something between the month of August and September lit a fire under a Vick, and so lived the tale of MV7. 

    I see this as an opportunity for Vick to better himself as a player. Extra time to study film, work with new players, and even the whole Kolb dilemma is giving Mike Vick the time to settle in as the face of the franchise. 

    No, Vick isn't like Chad Ochocinco and staying in shape by trying out for a soccer team, or Raven's Tom Zbikowski by spending time in the fighting scene (that joke would be too easy to make), but I'm sure Vick is using his time wisely and will pay off in the 2011 season. 

5. First-Round Draft Pick Danny Watkins

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) poses for a photo with Danny Watkins, #22 overall pick by the Philadelphia Eagles, on stage during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chri
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Look at that face—he was born to be an Eagle.

    Everyone knows that towards the end of the season, that Philly O-line crippled time after time. The numerous injuries to that roster made Vick scramble out of the pocket as much as he did in his Atlanta days, and that's what he doesn't want. 

    In the remaining five games of the season that Vick started, he threw 6 interceptions. The first 11 weeks, he threw none. 

    See the problem?

    That O-line was the Achilles' Heal for the Eagles at the end of the season, and every team knew it.

    The addition of OG Danny Watkins to the roster can surely help remain calm in the pocket. Watkins is already 26-years old, and is a rookie. However, for being a late bloomer like himself, his agility and strength will be a great help for Vick.

4. Familiarity with the Offense

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles takes the field before playing against the Green Bay Packers in the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (P
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    For being a first year starter, Vick did a pretty decent job knowing his role in the offense. You would never guess, if you hadn't known, that last season was Vick's first season leading that scary Eagles offense.

    Yes, he had a few bumps and bruises along the way, but for throwing over 3,000 yards (for a known scrambler) and a 21-6 TD/INT ratio is unheard of for a first year starter on a new team.

    He probably knew that playbook better than McNabb did. 

    Vick had a passer rating of 100.2, which was fourth in the league. In seven seasons as a Falcon, Vick's average passer rating was 74.3- a HUGE difference. 

    People tend to think that since Vick had played in Atlanta years ago, the fact he is doing good isn't so surprising. People also tend to overlook the fact that he had to drop over 30 pounds out of jail, after not playing for three years, to get to how he is now. 

    Heck, I'm rusty after not playing for a month when it comes to the backyard pick-up games. Granted I'm not a professional, but taking that long of a break from the game and coming back and being a star like he is, is something amazing.

    This will be his second year leading the team on offense. He now knows what plays work for him and don't work, what players are reliable in that two-minute drill, and how to pick apart the defense of the other team. 

    Dealing away Kolb also helps Vick in many ways. The main reason being the Wild Cat plays that the Eagles toyed around with previously. In Game 1 against the Green Bay Packers, for a good two straight possessions, the QB substations were Kolb-Vick-Kolb-Vick-Kolb-Vick. Any player knows that when you keep subbing someone in and out like this that it is hard to gain any sort of rhythm. 

    With Kolb possibly being on another team next year, Vick won't have to worry about anyone interrupting his flow. 

3. The Improvement of LeSean McCoy

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 02:  Lesean Mccoy #25 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after he scored a 1-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against the Houston Texans at Lincoln Financial Field on December 2, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvan
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    After seeing Brian Westbrook's career sadly start to fade, every Eagle fan thought that we would never see a player like him again.

    Westbrook was one of the most loved running backs in Eagles history, due to his lightening speed and agility. Fortunately for the Eagles, there is a man named LeSean 'Shady' McCoy.

    McCoy was drafted in 2009 and only had a season for Westbrook to mentor him and guide him. 

    That surely paid off because in only his second year in the league, McCoy rushed for 1,080 yards on only 207 attempts—that's over five yards per carry. Not only was he a threat on the ground, he is also deadly with his hands. McCoy caught 78 receptions for 592 yards, the third most on the team.

    Dating back to the Westbrook days, the Eagles have been one of the scariest teams in the league when it comes to the screen-game.

    McCoy is quick, but can also block. So with the addition of Danny Watkins and McCoy gaining more experience over the years, Vick can surely feel more comfortable in the pocket. 

    I say that LeSean will rush for over 1,500 yards in 2011 while accumulating around 15 touchdowns total, rushing and receiving. 

    Everyone knows the Eagles are a 'pass first' team, but that will not discourage McCoy from still giving it all he has in 2011.

2. Eagles Coaching Staff

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    PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 26:  Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the NFL preseason game on August 26, 2007 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The S
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    The Philadelphia Eagles have had a lot of changes to the coaching staff this offseason.

    With Jim Washburn being brought in to resurge that once dreaded defensive line and Jaun Castillo taking over as the team's new Defensive Coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg will have to coach his heart out this 2011 season.

    The Eagles are not afraid to let anyone go, and we all saw that when Sean McDermott was fired after he allowed a franchise-high 31 touchdown passes. He was also responsible for coaching one the worst teams in the league in defense in the red-zone. 

    That did not fly with new Eagles GM Howie Roseman.

    Ever since the passing of the great coach Jim Johnson, that Eagles defense has yet to be the same.

    However, this is about the offense, Michael Vick, and Marty Mornhinweg. 

    The Eagles did not by any means have a bad year on offense. The big problem was the red-zone. Mornhinweg did a great job with the team, racking up 389.4 yards per game on offense, only second in the league behind the San Diego Chargers.

    A possible solution to that red-zone issue would be bringing in Plaxico Burress

    Either way, Marty is an outstanding coach. However, if he can't help improve the team to maker it passed the NFC Wild Card game, he, as well as Andy Reid, will find their job in jeopardy. 

1. Mindset of Determination and Revenge

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 09:  Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles sits on the bench after losing to the Green Bay Packers during the 2011 NFC wild card playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 9, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Ph
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The incredible story of Vick's comeback couldn't go any further than the first round of the playoffs. The Eagles were defeated by the Green Bay Packers 21-16.

    The reasoning for this was Vick's late interception thrown to Tramon Williams of the Packers to end that game.

    The crowd went silent, heads fell, and a somber feel overtook Philadelphia that night.

    Directly after the game, Vick took the mic at the Eagles press conference. Once asked about that final possession, he simply said, "I felt like I tried to do too much, I got greedy."

    It is obvious that Vick is taking full responsibility for that loss, and that interception he threw is all he needs to fuel him for 2011.

    That play haunted him for weeks at night, because the Super Bowl was the Eagles to win. His fairytale ended in a nightmare. 

    There is an obvious chip on his shoulder from throwing that interception, and he needs to redeem himself. 

    Michael Vick will go into next season with a strong mindset of determination and revenge.

    Determined to shoot down all those degrading rumors about him, determined to prove the world wrong, and determined to do some unfinished business- bring the Eagles their first ever Super Bowl victory. 

    This extra time to work out and with the team doing all it can to improve will aid Vick in the process of his journey. 2010 was a remarkable year for him, but 2011 will be an even better one. 

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