John Smallwood: Believe it, Vick is getting job done for Eagles

Posted: September 27, 2010

JACKSONVILLE - At some point, facts have to begin to trump opinion.

What is truth has to start to outweigh speculation.

What has happened has to become more important than what might happen.

I admit to raising a skeptical eyebrow last week when Andy Reid declared that Michael Vick was playing as well as any quarterback in the National Football League.

Certainly, Vick had performed well in six quarters - well enough for Reid to surprisingly declare him the Eagles starter over Kevin Kolb.

Still, I thought the coach was engaging in hyperbole. I believed he was trying to defuse a controversial decision when he implied that this was about Vick playing on a level with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Drew Brees.

I stand corrected.

The statistics aren't lying. The performance isn't lying. The results aren't lying.

Yesterday Vick was again brilliant in the Eagles' 28-3 victory over the Jaguars. He passed for 291 yards and three touchdowns, including long-range scoring strikes of 61 yards to DeSean Jackson and 45 yards to Jeremy Maclin.

He also ran for a 17-yard touchdown.

Vick's quarterback rating of 119.2 marked the third time in three games that his rating has been above 100.

He had only had 10 previous 100-plus ratings in his career.

In 2 1/2 games, Vick has led the Eagles to 80 points, which is currently the third highest point total in the NFL behind New England and Indianapolis.

At this particular moment in time, everything Reid said about Vick is true.

"Each week I get more comfortable in the system," said Vick. "You just have to keep working and keep studying.

"As a quarterback, I once heard [Hall of Fame quarterback] Steve Young say, 'You never know it all.' You just have to keep learning and keep grinding."

Right now, the debate about whether Vick has truly become a pocket quarterback or just a freelancer waiting to break out doesn't matter.

Whatever Vick is or is not, there is no question that he makes plays for the Eagles.

He's made so many plays that suddenly the Birds are 2-1 going into Sunday's emotional matchup with Donovan McNabb and the Washington Redskins.

The Birds are alone on top of the NFC East.

What is the "Vick Effect?"

Remember how the Eagles always got a case of constipation when the offense got into the red zone?

Not in the last 3 weeks with Vick.

Since taking over for Kolb, Vick has taken the Birds into the scoring zone eight times, and he has produced seven touchdowns.

"If you go back to my days in Atlanta, I thought we did a good job in the red zone," Vick said. "We were able to score a lot of points.

"My eyes light up when we get down there. You work so hard to get down there, you don't want field goals. You want touchdowns."

Maybe that's what was going through Vick's mind when he took that snap 12 seconds before the end of the half yesterday.

The Eagles had a 7-3 lead and no timeouts.

Tick, tick, tick went the clock as Vick scrambled in the pocket.

Tick, tick, tick the seconds evaporated as Vick waited for Maclin to get free in the end zone.

No worries.

Vick completed the 16-yard touchdown pass that changed the game with 4 seconds to spare.

"I knew I only had 12 seconds and I couldn't take a sack," Vick said. "It was me improvising to make a play.

"I knew the clock was ticking, and I knew I had to get the ball out. Fortunately, [Maclin] was able to uncover."

And a possible field goal attempt?

"I knew there would be time left if the pass was incomplete," he said. "I wasn't back there dancing around that long."

Things might change. In the NFL, things have a habit of changing quickly.

Still, there are not yet any indications that what we've seen out of Vick will be different than what he will do the rest of the season.

"[Vick] has worked so hard to get back where he needs to be," said Jackson, who has had 100-yard receiving games the last 2 weeks. "It's a great opportunity for him to go out there and prove everybody who has doubted him wrong.

"The biggest thing with Mike is that he's been in this situation before. He's been a big-time quarterback in Atlanta.

"His speed, his instincts have come back fast. A lot of the things he's able to do are characteristic of the things he's always been able to and the gifts he's been able to bring to our team."

Take away all of the extraneous stuff and simply focus on the game that's being played.

Reid was right.

Vick is playing as well as anyone. If he maintains this level, the Eagles might make considerably more noise than many anticipated.

Send e-mail to

smallwj@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/smallwood.

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