Ashley Fox: Eagles' Vick trying to ignore MVP buzz

"I got caught up in it in 2002 and lost focus," Eagles QB Michael Vick said.
"I got caught up in it in 2002 and lost focus," Eagles QB Michael Vick said.
Posted: November 14, 2010

In 2002, when Michael Vick was in his second season in Atlanta, he heard the buzz. With each subsequent Falcons win, it grew louder, until it consumed him and, consequently, wrecked the team's year.

National Football League Most Valuable Player buzz - season killer. And it is back.

Vick was oblivious to the buzz this time around. He didn't know that ESPN's Adam Schefter on Friday had named him the league's midseason MVP. Vick has tried not to listen to any outside analysis, good or bad, of his play, because he knows what can happen.

"I got caught up in it in 2002 and lost focus," Vick said on Friday. "I started worrying about trying to accomplish that goal. So I can't do that again. Now, I'm putting no extra pressure on myself. It's good to have that buzz, but you've just got to keep playing."

There is, after all, a long way to go this season. Vick has played only three complete games - at Detroit, at Jacksonville and last Sunday at home against Indianapolis. The Eagles won all three.

But there's no question that Vick belongs in the conversation. He leads the NFL with a 105.3 passer rating that is the highest of his career. He was the NFC offensive player of the month in September with a 110.2 rating, and in five games this season - he missed three with torn rib cartilage - Vick has yet to throw an interception.

If he continues that play for the second half of the season, then Vick very well could win the league's most prestigious honor.

"We're all way too quick elevating people and knocking people down," Ron Jaworski said on Friday of the midseason hype. "I think there's a long way to go in this season - a long way to go.

"I've always felt when teams start getting you on tape, seeing what you're doing, breaking you down, they make adjustments. So then, does Michael make the adjustments? Does the Eagles' offense make adjustments? He's playing great football, I'm going to give him that, but, boy, it's a small sampling when you consider the full body of work of a 16-game NFL season. So I'd be a little cautious right now."

Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said that Vick has played "just like I expected him to play," which is well.

"He is playing the quarterback position - and that entails an awful lot of things - at a high level up to date," Mornhinweg said. "We'll see what happens. He's got to continue to do that. That's the one thing I'm really proud of. He's playing that quarterback position at a really high level."

That was the case in 2002, too. Through the first 12 games of the season, Vick completed 61.1 percent of his passes for 1,991 yards, with 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He also rushed for 648 yards and eight more touchdowns. The Falcons were 8-3-1 and the buzz was immense.

Vick said he couldn't handle it. He got caught up in his statistics, and his production suffered. In the last four games of the regular season, his completion percentage dropped to 49.6 percent, and he threw five interceptions and six touchdowns and didn't score another one on the ground.

Consequently, the Falcons dropped three of their last four, won one playoff game, and then lost to the Eagles, 20-6, at Veterans Stadium.

"All my great seasons always ended here in Philadelphia, in the playoffs, in the cold," Vick said.

While he isn't listening to the MVP buzz, Vick said, "it would mean a great deal if I did win it.

"But it just goes to show that hard work, dedication and all the time that I've put into this game really paid off. But even more so, I have to give credit to my teammates, to the guys around me, because without them none of this would be possible."

Jaworski was at the Eagles' practice facility on Friday and will call the Eagles-Redskins game Monday night for ESPN. During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Jaworski said that he expected Vick to be an Eagle next season and Donovan McNabb to be somewhere other than Washington. Both quarterbacks are set to become free agents after this season.

"I can't see Michael Vick not being the quarterback in Philadelphia," Jaworski said. "He's clearly played well. He's been accepted in this town right now. The players have embraced him. He's performed very well on the field. There's an air of excitement about the team. . . . This is a very potent offensive group, so I would think the Eagles would like to keep that together as long as they can."

Jaworski said he thought the Redskins had found their franchise quarterback when they acquired McNabb in a trade with the Eagles. But Jaworski said that, given the fact that Washington has not extended McNabb's contract and that Mike Shanahan benched McNabb two weeks ago in the final two minutes against Detroit, "none of those are positives."

"Although there's a dearth of quarterbacks in the NFL, my gut would tell me Donovan is somewhere else next year," Jaworski said.

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