Eagles Almanac Excerpt: Michael Vick’s Last Chance
Below is an excerpt from my contribution to the 2013 Eagles Almanac, where I analyze Michael Vick‘s chances of succeeding under Chip Kelly.
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When it was time for Vick to take over the starting quarterback job in Atlanta, Dan Reeves decided to overhaul his offensive system.
Chris Chandler was the quarterback that preceded Vick and he was a sponge. Reeves would give him the game plan Wednesday morning and he’d know it backwards and forwards by that night. He had played in the league for 14 years at that point, and was heading into his fifth season as the Falcons starter when Vick was selected first overall in the 2001 NFL Draft.
Reeves had a wordy and rather complex system in place that was heavily reliant on memorization. To streamline the process for his young quarterback and the rest of the players, he went to a numbers system, which spelled things out more plainly. He also simplified Vick’s reads.
“I didn’t want to complicate it where Mike had to get past the third progression,” said Reeves. “I gave him a one-two thing. As soon as your back foot hits look at one, go to two and if two is not there, Mike you look to run.”
Using that method, Vick threw for just shy of 3,000 yards with 16 touchdowns to eight interceptions his first year as the full-time starter and ran for another 777 yards with eight scores, and the Falcons snuck into the postseason with a 9-6-1 record. They went into Lambeau and stunned the Packers 27-7 before falling to the Eagles in the Divisional Round. Vick was named to his first Pro Bowl.
He fractured his fibula during the preseason the following year and was only able to make four starts (He went 3-1). The team finished with a 5-11 mark, and Reeves was let go with three games still left on the schedule.
“I wish to heck,” said Reeves, “that I could have had Mike for his entire career.”
The Reeves-Vick offense was only in its infancy. It would have developed as Vick did. Instead, Reeves was fired and Vick was handed over to Wade Phillips for the rest of that year. Then Jim Mora, then Andy Reid after a stint in federal prison. And now, Chip Kelly. This will be Vick’s fifth offensive system in 11 seasons.
“Mike Vick can handle any situation or any system mentally or physically,” said Reeves.
“This new system Mike’s going through, I know this: he can do it but he’s going to be better if Chip understands what Mike is capable of doing and makes it simpler for him.”
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