Dual-threat QBs Vick and RG3 set to square off

The Eagles' Michael Vick: "I'm a fan of [Robert Griffin III] just like he's a fan of mine."
The Eagles' Michael Vick: "I'm a fan of [Robert Griffin III] just like he's a fan of mine." (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 06, 2013

When Michael Vick entered the NFL in 2001, he was considered a transformational talent. The NFL had seen mobile quarterbacks before - Randall Cunningham was one of the finest in Philadelphia in the early 1990s - but Vick took it to another level.

Vick became the first quarterback to run for 1,000 yards in a season. Although he's not the same rusher he was when he entered the league, his dual-threat ability is still central to the Eagles offense.

Yet Vick is no longer one of the few. He pointed to marquee quarterbacks who are similarly multidimensional. Perhaps the most prominent is Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, the opposing QB in Monday's season opener, who rushed for 815 yards as a rookie last season.

"It means the way I've been able to play the game has trickled down to the younger generation," Vick said. "I'm a fan of his just like he's a fan of mine."

Vick is now 33, old enough that players inside his own locker room and on opposing teams admit to looking up to Vick as teenagers. Griffin was 11 years old when Vick was a rookie and was 16 when Vick ran for 1,000 yards.

"Vick was definitely a guy that, it was hard not to watch him," Griffin said. "He was a lot of fun to watch out there playing, not just running the ball, but also throwing the ball. He's paved the way for a lot of quarterbacks, like myself."

Vick said he envisioned a time when there would be more multidimensional quarterbacks in the NFL. Four quarterbacks topped 400 rushing yards last season: Griffin, Seattle's Russell Wilson, Carolina's Cam Newton, and San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick. A bevy of other quarterbacks, such as Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, Tennessee's Jake Locker, and Indianapolis' Andrew Luck, have mobility that must also be respected.

The influx of dual-threat quarterbacks has altered the game and reintroduced the read-option, where the quarterback determines whether to hand off the ball or keep it based on the look of the defense.

The Redskins used it last season to significant success with Griffin, and Vick watched the offense with envy. Eagles coach Chip Kelly arrived in Philadelphia with elements of the read-option, although it's not the first time Vick has tried it.

"I was running the read-option before RG3 was running the read-option," Vick said. "It's a dimension that's been added, and he's taken it to a new level."

There was a time when a faint possibility existed that Griffin could play in Kelly's offense. When Griffin was a high school prospect in Copperas Cove, Texas, in 2007, Oregon was one of the teams that recruited him. Kelly was the Ducks' offensive coordinator at the time. Griffin eventually elected to go to Baylor.

"I met [Kelly] a few times and we talked, and I've always been a big fan of what he's done at Oregon and as a football coach," Griffin said. "I thought about going to Oregon. Things just didn't work out. But it was nothing against [Kelly]."

Six years later, Vick has his chance to play for Kelly. It's one of the reasons Vick renegotiated his contract to stay in Philadelphia, and there were flashes during the summer quarterback competition when he appeared like the dynamic player who entered the league more than one decade ago.

Vick said this offense allows him to be even more multidimensional than in other offenses he's played in because "you have more options." He noted that there could be three different avenues on a single play.

But with the ball in their hands more often, there's more of a propensity to get hit. Vick has played 16 games just once in his career and missed seven games because of injury during the last two seasons. Griffin's season ended with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the postseason, and the discussion to avoiding hits and sliding has been as prevalent in Washington as it is in Philadelphia.

Monday will be the first time Griffin has played since sustaining the injury in the postseason in January. He said he's fully healthy and does not anticipate rust.

Vick said quarterbacks need to go into the game expecting to get hit. But both quarterbacks must run for the offense to be at their optimum, and both are among the finest running quarterbacks in NFL history.

"The game has always been 10-on-11 when it comes to offense, because you didn't have to account for the quarterback," Griffin said. "In this modern age, you have to account for the quarterback and make it 11-on-11. It gives the offense a little more of an advantage."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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