Posted by: dvolpe | August 16, 2009

The Philadelphia Eagles Will Be Better This Year for Having Vick

Have the Eagles improved their chances or sealed their fate?

Have the Eagles improved their chances or sealed their fate?

There’s been a lot of conjecture lately as to why the Eagles made the move to sign Michael Vick, and if its a good one. Whether it will work out for them, or backfire completely, and whether the whole thing was worth the risk in the first place.

Well, I’m going on record now as saying that it will work for them. Here are the reasons why:

1. Why it will make them play better: There are several elite teams that are perennially in the mix to win it all. The Steelers, Patriots, and Colts come to mind. All of them have quality quarterbacks, excellent coaching and loads of talent. But there’s one thing that the teams that take home the most Lombardi trophies share: X-factors. The unknown, or unexpected things that make a great team even better. The kind of elements that the opposing team cannot plan for, because they never see it coming. Both the Steelers and the Patriots are known for mixing in a trick play now and then, keeping opposing teams off balance. The Steelers liked to bust out a dynamic player who can run, pass, or lateral back to the quarterback when a big gain is needed. In the past they have used players such as Antwaan Randle El or Kordell Stewart to fill the bill. The Patriots, on the other hand, like to run a sneaky sideline play or…. Tape the other team’s signals and decode them. The Patriots also employed a kicker, who just always seemed to make the clutch kicks, by the name of Adam Vinatieri. A funny thing happened when he left the Patriots for the Colts. The Colts won the Superbowl, something they’d always fallen just short of and the Pats haven’t won the big game since, although they came very close against the Giants in the 2008.  That, my friends, is the power of the X-factor. There are certain types of plays and certain types of players that are almost impossible to plan for. When these players touch the ball you have no idea what they’re going to do, the fans have no idea what they’re going to do, the analysts have no idea what they’re going to do, heck even they have no idea what they’re going to do, until they do it. And by then it’s much too late for the defense to react. Vick once was that kind of player. If he can be again, the Eagles will finally have the kind of X-factor the Steelers and Pats have relied on for years.

2. Why it will make them a closer-knit team: Signing Vick was a controversial choice, and there’s no telling just how much flack the Eagles will take from the fans and the media for the decision. But as they say, it is an ill wind that blows no good. Whenever something like this happens there is the immediate and obvious negative effect, but there is also a sense of unity, an us against the world mentality that many teams experience when they are under such close scruitiny,  harsh criticism. If the Eagles can band together against the outside world, and rally around the decision made by their owner, coach and GM, then it will strengthen the bond, and the trust that is at the root of all good teams’ success.

3. Why it will make the coaches better: Behind every great play, made by even the greates player, is a strategy. An offensive strategy, at work against a defensive strategy, a virtual chess game, played by opposing coaches, with human pieces of extraordinary skill and athletic ability. But the interesting thing about this chess game is that both sides don’t start with the same pieces. Some teams seem to be comprised of mostly pawns, while others are loaded with rooks, bishops and queens to wreak havoc on their opponents. Vick, put quite simply is an extra piece that they didn’t have before, and a very versatile one, at that. In the past he has shown that he need not even play by the rules of the game. He can run faster than a quarterback is supposed to be able to. He can seemingly defy gravity, diving towards the endzone, his knee hovering inches above the grass while the ball crosses the plane of the goal line. He can make grown men look silly with sudden, almost superhumanly agile moves, and cunningly timed pump fakes. And he can deliver on the that threat the next time, with a long bomb for a touchdown. As any chess player will tell you, whoever holds most pieces of the highest value, holds the advantage in the match. The coaches will have more options this year than they have in years past, and that will make them better.

One caveat: Now all of this is well and good, but the truth is, while all the above is true, the fate of the Eagles balances on the blade of a knife this season. If any one thing goes wrong it will all fall to pieces. If Vick screws up again, their season will likely be ruined. If Vick lacks the talent that he once possessed, the entire experiment will be considered a bust. If another teammate goes too far in defense of Vick against an angry mob of fans (a la Stephen Jackson running into the stands with Ron Artest) the Michael Vick experiement will be seen as disastrous. And if the the trick plays don’t always go as planned, and the Eagles falter out of the gate, and begin to turn on each other, then all will be lost.

So the Eagles have made this choice. They have chosen their path. It is a  big gamble, and one that could easily make the entire organization look bad. But the truth is, the Eagles have played it relatively safe over the past few years and what has it gotten them? One trip to the conference championship game and no Superbowl appearances. In fact the last time they took a chance, it was on a guy named Terrell Owens. Was he good for the team? No, he wasn’t, but he did get them to the 2005 Superbowl, in a losing effort.  If this year’s risk pays off, the Eagles are hoping it will take them a little further, like to the winner’s podium and a championship parade in front of a raucous Philly crowd.

Quick Bits:

Dirk grounded? It looks like Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki has been banned from playing for the German national team by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Really? I thought that it was illegal to own a human being now days. My mistake. But seriously, let’s hope that this is something Dirk didn’t want to do anyway, and Cubes is just helping him out by playing “bad cop” on this one.

Will Quentin Richardson be the 1st player to play on every single NBA team? At this rate he might. Q has been traded 4 times in just 2 months. That being said, he has little to complain about. After suffering in NY for 4 seasons on the cellar dwelling Knicks roster, he was shipped off to Memphis, and then to the Clippers (where he started his career) before heading on to Minnesota, and then finally making his way to Miami. After all is said and done, going from a struggling Knicks team to play alongside one of the best players in the NBA in Dwyane Wade is a huge upgrade. Now there’s only one thing Quentin has toworr about: A 5th trade.

Kyle stinks up Candlestick park: Kyle Orton threw 3 interceptions in the Broncos 1st preseason game, against the 49ers.  Hm…. I wonder if the Broncos are starting to miss Jay Cutler yet, bad attitude and all.

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