Will Eagles fans see a new, revitalized Michael Vick this season?

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Vick is likely to be the starting quarterback when the Eagles open the regular season.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Michael Vick is likely to be the starting quarterback when the Eagles open the regular season.
Posted: August 21, 2013

UPDATE:Eagles coach Chip Kelly on Tuesday morning named Michael Vick the team's regular-season starter. 

Kelly said his decision, reached in a staff meeting yesterday, ended a thorough evaluation process.

"I met with all the quarterbacks this morning. They all understand the plan and know where we are going forward," Kelly said. He said Foles, the second-year QB from Arizona, was "outstanding" when the news was conveyed.

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AFTER MICHAEL Vick's rousing performance in last Thursday's preseason win over Carolina, Vick credited new Eagles coach Chip Kelly with rekindling Vick's love for football. The next day, a fan asked me on Twitter if Kelly might be the coach Vick has been waiting for his entire career.

This ought to be a fascinating question, given Vick's 13-for-15 precision this preseason, given the things an unconventional thinker such as Kelly might be capable of doing with Vick's combination of mobility and arm strength.

But all I wanted to do when I saw the tweet was sigh. Heavily.

Here is a quote from the third week of November in the year of our lord, 2010. Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, is marveling, just like the rest of the NFL, over Vick's performance in a 59-28 victory at Washington, a game in which the Eagles scored a team-record 45 first-half points: "With the way he can move the football and his style of play, and when he throws the ball like he did [Monday] night, he's damn near impossible to stop."

Here is the next paragraph of that Daily News story: "Suddenly, there is talk of the Super Bowl and the MVP award for a quarterback who has done something Eagles coach Andy Reid said he thinks is 'unique' - reinventing himself, fixing fatal flaws, at age 30."

Hard to believe, but it has been only 3 years since Reid - "a guy who knows the quarterback position in and out," Vick said in 2010 - rekindled Vick's love for football. The kindling he used must have been wet, given what Vick said last week.

"When things don't go well and everybody's pointing their finger at you, sometimes it can hurt your confidence," Vick, now 33, said. He has turned the ball over 33 times in his 23 regular-season starts over the past two seasons, something that directly correlated with Reid's recent change of address to Kansas City. "I read everything that was said. I lived it."

Vick said when he sat down to get acquainted with Kelly early in the offseason, "His main goal was to help me get back into top shape, get me comfortable, and to a point where I could believe in myself again.

"You've got to play this game with intense passion and purpose, and I thank coach Kelly for what he has done for me . . . giving me that confidence that I felt like I was losing at some point in my career."

Seven months ago, nearly everyone accepted that Vick's time here was over, and most fans were happy with the prospect of the team moving on. The league had seemed to figure out Vick toward the end of the 2010 season, which ended with Vick throwing a desperation interception in a 21-16 wild-card playoff loss to the Packers. The thing Vick didn't seem to grasp afterward was that he hadn't been in a desperation-interception situation, having just thrown for a first down at the Green Bay 27, clock ticking down from just inside a minute.

"I didn't throw the ball I wanted to throw, and it got picked off. It's a bad way to go out, but, hey, I went out swinging," Vick said that day.

That was the Vick that Eagles fans saw in 2011 and 2012, at least during those times when he was healthy. It turned out that all the talk about Reid and Marty Mornhinweg fixing Vick's "throwing platform," about what a perfect fit the revitalized Vick was for Reid's offense, was just blather. Vick hasn't completed 60 percent of his passes in a season since 2010, the only time in his 10-year career he has achieved that standard.

Pretty much right about the time the Eagles rewarded his 2010 Pro Bowl berth with a 5-year, $80 million contract, Vick stopped doing things the Reid/Mornhinweg way and started doing them the Michael Vick way again - running left and throwing right, holding onto the ball forever, until a pass rusher knocks the ball out of his hands from behind, declaring turnovers an inevitable part of the cost of doing business.

Three years ago, the "Vick rebirth" stories tended to grapple with the question of whether his post-prison off-the-field persona was something we could believe. That part, Vick has given us no reason to question. We saw again yesterday, when "Team Vick Field" was dedicated in Hunting Park, that Vick has indeed matured as a person. His $200,000 donation helped give a nice home to the North Philadelphia Aztecs youth football program and Little Flower High athletics. Vick is a married father of three now, and seems to live a solid, settled life.

If Vick emerges as Kelly's starter, as now seems likely, there is reason to hope that the quarterback's latest rebirth will produce results, at least up to a point. Vick, working under a 1-year contract again, seems back in his "last chance" mode of 2010, embracing everything about Kelly's program, adding muscle in the offseason to try to ward off injury.

Even if you have a long memory, it was difficult not to be impressed by the way Vick ran the Eagles' offense against New England and Carolina, especially the hurry-up adjustments in the Carolina game. This offense, whether Vick or Nick Foles ends up running it, is going to present problems for NFL defenses. But at some point, those defenses will start to adjust. Assuming Vick is the quarterback then, that will be where we see how much he really has grown and changed. Will Vick be patient and think of ways to adjust to the adjustments? Or will he "go out swinging," one last time?

Click here for complete coverage of Philadelphia Eagles training camp.

Birdseed

The Eagles released offensive lineman Ed Wang.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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