Mike Vick is the starter. The easy and expected part is over after Eagles coach Chip Kelly made it official yesterday.
So now comes the hard part: staying healthy. Vick came into training camp boasting about how much better shape he was in. He added muscle, lean muscle, not bulk. He dedicated his entire offseason to getting his body in position to endure a grueling, 16-game schedule.
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"I'm trying to keep my body in the best possible shape to withstand the hits," Vick said in late July. "Everyone says I'm injury prone, so I'm trying to fight that."
Back then, Vick didn't know if he'd win the starting quarterback job. He thought he would, but every NFL player thinks that way. After dazzling all summer and through two preseason games, the job is his — and his alone.
"He's our starter for the season," Kelly said. "It's not a one‑game trial basis."
"It's gratifying," Vick said. "I had to come back and work for everything, it wasn't given to me."
It's not that anyone thinks Vick is lying about his newfound commitment to protecting his fragile body. It's more about whether that fragile body can withstand his aggressive style.
Last week, in a kind-of-meaningless preseason game against Carolina, Vick bounced around the pocket with reckless abandon. On one particular scramble, Vick went out of his way to dive face-first into traffic. There were quite a few audible cries from Eagles fans, cringing and advising him to "slide, slide, slide."
Vick didn't. He probably never will.
While everyone respects the effort — and the few extra yards — it isn't worth injuring the franchise quarterback. It remains to be seen if he can ever change his mindset. On one hand, it's a sense of pride. On the other hand, it could get him a seat on the bench — maybe in a walking boot — by Week 5. Some have blamed a porous and injured offensive line for Vick's woes over the last two seasons.
"I never point the finger at my teammates," Vick said. "I always feel like I'm in total control and that's just my approach, and that's my sense of belief, and it'll be that way until the day I retire."
For now, anticipation and excitement is at an all-time high. The Eagles have a starting quarterback, one that can run Kelly's innovative, up-tempo offense to perfection. The possibilities are endless.
"I thank Coach Kelly for the process that we all had to go through," Vick said. "And it don't stop here, this is just Day 1 ... and I still got to prove myself each and every day. I'm still going to compete with the quarterbacks each and every day, and we're going to approach this as if it's our last play every play."
And maybe that last play will be Vick taking a knee in the Super Bowl. The body is certainly willing, but only if the mind is able.