Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Making bold claims has become an offseason staple for the Philadelphia Eagles.
In 2011, the Eagles called themselves "The Dream Team." Apparently they were dreaming of mediocrity: Philadelphia finished the season 8-8.
You'd think the Eagles would keep their mouths shut after setting the bar so low last season.
Last week quarterback Michael Vick, apparently unphased by last year's disappointing results, took the "Dream Team" moniker a step further. Now he thinks the Eagles "have a chance to develop a dynasty."
As he clarified his remarks, Vick alluded to other famous dynasties including the great San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys squads of the 1990s.
Both of those teams had great quarterbacks (Joe Montana, Steve Young and Troy Aikman). Last season, the Eagles did not.
Vick may have more natural ability than any quarterback the league has ever seen (he's certainly the most athletic player to ever play the position). But even 11 years into his NFL career, Vick has still yet to make the leap from good to great.
If you look closely, you'll see that Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and many of the league's other top quarterbacks ran circles around Vick last season. Here are some of the highlights:
- Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw more than twice as many touchdown passes (41) as Vick did last season (18).
- Green Bay Packers signal caller Aaron Rodgers (122.5) finished with a quarterback rating 38 points higher than the one Vick posted in 2011 (84.5).
- Drew Brees (5,476 yds) of the New Orleans Saints topped Vick's yardage total (career-high 3,303 yds) this past season by over 2,000 yards.
- Brees also completed 11.4 percent more of his passes than Vick did in 2011 (71.2 percent to 59.8).
- Even in a down year, San Diego's Philip Rivers (366 completions) still completed 113 more passes than Vick did last season (253).
- Brees had more completions in 2011 (468) than Vick threw passes (423, also a career-high for the Philadelphia QB).
We were expecting big things from Vick in 2011, not just because of the "Dream Team" label but because he performed so well in 2010.
After an injury sidelined starter Kevin Kolb in Week 1, Vick took the reigns for the Eagles and he never looked back. Vick's feet had always been his biggest weapon (his 4,948 career rushing yards are the most ever for an NFL quarterback) but in 2010, his arm became an equally effective asset.
That season, Vick broke the 3,000-yard mark for the first time in his career while also tossing a career-high 21 TDs and just six interceptions. The 100.2 QB rating he finished the season with was over 20 points higher than his previous career-best of 78.1 set in 2005 when he was still with the Atlanta Falcons.
Vick followed up his breakout 2010 season by throwing for a career-high 3,303 yards but also a career-worst 14 interceptions. Vick's QB rating tumbled to 84.9 while his completion percentage fell below 60 percent.
Even Vick's rushing statistics weren't as prolific as they had been in years past. After collecting 676 yards and nine touchdowns running the ball in 2010, Vick recorded just 589 yards last season while finding the end zone only once.
Despite Vick's struggles, Philadelphia was able to finish the season strong by winning each of their last four contests. Receivers Jeremy Maclin (24), Jason Avant (29) and tight end Brent Celek (27) all are entering their prime and it's doubtful that DeSean Jackson (58 catches, 961 yards, four TDs in 2011 after reaching 1,000 yards receiving in each of his previous two seasons) will have two bad seasons in a row. The Eagles look like a team on the rise and that could make Vick a trendy selection on fantasy draft day.
I wouldn't be surprised at all if Philadelphia wins 10 or 11 games this year but I'm still not sold on Vick. Accuracy has never been a strength of Vick's (56 percent completion percentage for his career) and I think his mediocre passing statistics from a season ago depict him more accurately than his inexplicably phenomenal 2010 numbers do.
Vick is still incredibly dangerous when he gets in the open field but his penchant for scrambling and improvisation also makes him vulnerable to big hits, so injuries are always a concern with Vick. The four-time Pro Bowler has missed 21 games in his career due to injury including three last season.
Philadelphia faces a daunting schedule this upcoming season (they'll face eight quality opponents, the most in the NFL) so don't expect opposing defenses to go easy on Vick when he takes the field in 2012.
I'm sure Vick will be as entertaining as ever this season but his reckless style of play and inconsistency have plagued him in the past and these tendencies could lead to his undoing again in 2012. If more reliable choices like Houston's Matt Schaub, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Chicago's Jay Cutler are still available, there's no reason to take a risk by drafting Vick.
As for the whole dynasty thing, I guess we'll just have to wait and see.