By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — He’s emerged as a leader, and shown some commendable qualities in the brief tenure of Chip Kelly’s reign as head coach of the Eagles. He’s been peacemaker, big brother, sounding board, and whether you like it or not, the face of the Eagles.
This year, the Eagles will go as far as Mike Vick can carry them. Like it or not, they will resemble Vick, who during preseason completed 28 of 38 passes for 383 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, one a meaningless toss at halftime.
What will come next is a baffling, frustrating three months, punctuated by sheer radiance.
Vick has looked, at times, brilliant during the preseason. In the 14-9 victory over Carolina, he was 9-for-10 for 105 yards—his one incompletion coming on a desperation fling on the last play of the half.
At other times, Vick has been confounding.
Against Jacksonville, for example, Vick played into the opening series of the third quarter, completing 15 of 23 passes for 184 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. The interception could be an omen of things to come.
Vick connected on six-straight passes against the Jags, then tossed up a floater off his back foot that fell into the arms of Jacksonville’s Dwayne Gratz. The pick came after Vick received mild pressure up the middle by Jacksonville’s Sen’Derrick Marks. Vick panicked. He didn’t have to throw the ball.
Vick is 33. He doesn’t want to be viewed as Stopgap 7. His last full season was in 2006, when pre-prison Vick led the Falcons to a rather lackluster 7-9 finish. He’s playing for his playing life and he knows it. He feels the ache and soreness of age.
He also knows he’s slipping. The live video game version of what he used to be is no longer able to escape like he once had. He’s 10-13 over the last two years as the Eagles’ starting quarterback, and though he does present the best chance for the Eagles to be competitive, a quasi-productive Vick could potentially ruin the Eagles’ chances of turning the page and drafting a franchise quarterback that could get the Eagles back into Super Bowl contention.
Since Vick led the Eagles back in the magical 38-31 comeback victory against the Giants on December 18, 2010, the Eagles have been 12-23 and not returned to the playoffs.
Kelly, apparently, seems to trust Vick, who over the last two years has 38 turnovers, more than any quarterback in the NFL, throwing 24 interceptions (and 30 touchdowns) and losing 14 fumbles.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.