Even with fresh start, Vick doesn't get it

Posted: June 08, 2013

Michael Vick probably believed what many of us believed - that he was the only Eagles quarterback mobile enough to run Chip Kelly's offense.

That means Vick is figuring out what the rest of us are figuring out - that Nick Foles is not only a viable candidate to start this season, he is beginning to look like the leading candidate.

That would explain Vick's comments to several news outlets after Thursday's final pre-training camp practice.

Vick told reporters he found it "tough" to share first-team reps with Foles.

"I have to continue to be a professional and put my feelings and emotions to the side," Vick said. "But it's hard. I would be lying if I said it wasn't, but that's just what I have to deal with."

Vick told CSNPhilly.com that he hoped Kelly would name a starter before training camp opens July 22 in order to avoid the distraction of answering daily questions about the quarterback competition.

That is not going to happen. Kelly may find those questions annoying, too, but they aren't about to dissuade him from doing things his way. And his way, it is now very clear, is to let every player compete for his spot on the team. It is clean-slate time for every player Kelly inherited.

If Vick was smart, he would embrace that. If Kelly had judged him on his last two seasons, Vick would be gone already. The injuries, the turnovers, the win-loss record would have made that decision easy.

Vick is here because Kelly chose to keep an open mind and to see for himself whether the veteran's skill-set was intact enough for a salvage job. So it is a bit shortsighted of Vick to presume that he is the clear No. 1 and this whole competition thing is for show.

It is also completely in character. Every year, it seems, Vick declares that he finally gets it and is now prepared to do the necessary work to excel in the NFL. But if you say it one year, it doesn't really resonate when you say it again the next year.

This time around, Vick added the comic relief of pronouncing his fumble problem cured after a few words from Kelly.

"He told me, 'Hold it like this,' " Vick said. "I tried it, and it felt good."

Problem solved, right? Except, of course, Vick has been only in noncontact workouts. Fumbling tends to be more of a problem when people hit you.

Even before Kelly was hired, I wrote that general manager Howie Roseman should cut ties with Vick and a handful of other veterans. That would give the new coach as fresh a start as possible. Many of those veterans are gone now, but Vick is still here. And, lo and behold, he is among the first players to utter a discouraging word about the new regime.

As it turns out, Vick may wind up making himself expendable with his performance. In the open practices I watched, Foles threw the ball better and seemed more in tune with the system. He is not Robert Griffin III or Colin Kaepernick when it comes to mobility, but he is more athletic than some pure pocket passers in the league.

It is likely that Vick has noticed this, as well. It isn't so much a QB competition that bothers him, it's a QB competition that he isn't winning.

Kelly has said from the beginning that he liked and respected Foles based on facing him in college. And he has said from the beginning that his offense will not be the read-option novelty act that many people expect based on his Oregon teams.

"It's not like we're doing something that no one has done in this league," Kelly said, citing the 49ers and Seahawks as examples. "I think that's the biggest misconception about this offense. We might run two [read-option plays] in a practice. We have an offense that has great size to it. That's just a small part of it."

That is consistent with what Kelly has said since the day he was hired. He has made it clear he believes that Foles and, now, fourth-round pick Matt Barkley can run his offense successfully. A lot of people, perhaps including Vick, didn't realize Kelly meant every word.

Contact Phil Sheridan at psheridan@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Sheridanscribe.

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