Paul Domowitch: Eagles quarterback Michael Vick working diligently to back up 'dynasty' claim

Posted: July 24, 2012

BETHLEHEM — Championships aren't won or lost because of words.

The Eagles didn't finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs last year because of Vince Young's “Dream Team'' reference. And they will neither sink nor swim this year because Michael Vick had the temerity to tell Comcast's Derrick Gunn last week that they “have a chance to develop a dynasty.''

It may cause some pass-rushers on the NFC East team that did happen to win the Super Bowl last year — the Giants — to try and hit him with a little more, uh, gusto. But it won't influence the outcome of their games, unless they knock him out. And then they'll have to deal with the NFL's hanging judge, Roger Goodell.

“That was just me speaking out of confidence,'' Vick said Sunday after arriving for the start of training camp at Lehigh. “I think if you asked my teammates, they'd say the same thing, say they feel the same way.

“As a quarterback, that's just how I feel. I feel like you've got to aim and shoot for the stars. If you miss, you'll [still] be amongst them. That's how I think. That's got to be your mind-set. And it all starts right here, right now, at training camp, putting in the hard work to get there.''

You might expect a little more humility from a guy who's coming off the kind of season Vick is coming off. He finished 26th in the league in third-down passing and 25th in fourth-quarter passing. He finished 23rd in interception percentage. He played poorly in the red zone, committing six turnovers and completing just 52.5 percent of his passes.

Vick is well aware that he was one of the reasons the Eagles failed to make the playoffs for just the third time in 12 years. But he's not going to change who he is. There may be a few things lacking in his game, but confidence isn't one of them.

He has worked his tail off this offseason to try and correct the mistakes he made last year. The guy who took every lazy shortcut in the book during his six preprison seasons with the Falcons now is, in the words of Eagles general manager Howie Roseman, “The first one here and the last one to leave.''

“I see him working as hard as he's ever worked,'' Roseman said. “He's always in the building. I remember a day in June when he was here until 3 o'clock throwing. I looked outside my window and saw him throwing on his own and working out. From all accounts, those were the things that weren't going on when he played for the Falcons.''

Said coach Andy Reid: “I'm a big Michael Vick fan. There's nobody that presented himself to his football team better than Michael did this past offseason. He set the tempo for our football team. I'm very happy that he's confident.

“One thing I know about Michael Vick — nobody's going to outwork him. So, all of the things that people might perceive [about him], that's not him. He's all in. He's all about winning football games.''

Vick has become the thing that Donovan McNabb always claimed to be, but never quite was. He has become the Eagles' leader. While you can argue about the level of his quarterback skills, you can't argue about his leadership skills.

When he said the Eagles had a chance to develop a dynasty, his teammates had his back. So did Reid.

“I'm OK with that [comment],'' Reid said. “I know the player. I know this player. I know he loves challenges, is as competitive as anybody you've ever been around. He wants to win and he's willing to do whatever it takes physically and mentally to do that.''

Vick said there is no similarity between his “dynasty'' remark and Young's “Dream Team'' comment.

“It's totally different from the Dream Team comment,'' he said. “This is a hypothetical thought. It's something to aim for. We can create our own Dream Team. Nothing against what Vince said, but [a dynasty] is what we can be if we have the right mind-set. It all starts here [at Lehigh]. Each and every player has to look in the mirror at night and say, ‘I put 100 percent into my day, got the most out of it.' ''

Vick isn't worried what other teams, including the Giants, will think of his comments, isn't worried that they'll use them as motivation when they play the Eagles.

“That's what we feel and what we believe as a team,'' he said. “Other teams set goals, whether they're short-term or long-term, and they try to achieve them. That's all we're trying to do. Our motivation is through the roof. Everybody wants to be the best. You all want to be the best reporters and get the best stories you can get.''

Much of the Eagles' dynastic potential rests with Vick. In referencing other NFL dynasties last week, Vick mentioned “the great San Francisco 49ers teams, the great Green Bay Packers teams and the great Dallas Cowboys teams.'' What all three of those teams had in common was a great quarterback. The Cowboys' Troy Aikman and the 49ers' Joe Montana and Steve Young all are in the Hall of Fame. The Packers' Brett Favre soon will be.

Canton isn't in the cards for Vick. He's averaged more yards per carry in his career (7.16) than he has yards per pass attempt (7.06). He's got a .560 career completion percentage and an 80.9 passer rating.

If the Eagles are to accomplish any level of greatness, whether it's one Super Bowl title or two or three, they need Vick to play better than he ever has in his life. Because in a quarterback-driven league, it is the quarterback who is the lynchpin to a dynasty.

“I think I've made a lot of strides,'' Vick said. “I'm more relaxed now, more at ease. I feel more in control. I think that's a great quality right now for myself. It's always motivation when you have things in perspective, and I feel that I do.

“As a quarterback, you're always a work in progress. The one and only purpose is to work hard and go out there on Sundays and put it all together.''

Contact Paul Domowitch at pdomo@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @PDomo. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read his blog at www.eagletarian.com.

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