This is Michael Vick’s postgame response on Sunday, after being asked to explain his fumbling issue: "I don't know, I wish I could tell you. I don't have an explanation."
Here’s my response: Really?
On some level, it’s refreshing not to have to endure another paragraph of jock-speak, where some guy is saying whatever he thinks the media and the fanbase wants to hear. These are generally putrid soliloquies of artifice, serving as either a distraction or appeasement. We don’t need all of that. Don’t tell us that the sky is blue – we already know. So at least Vick is being honest; but do you feel any better with his honesty? Your man just said he “didn’t know,” as if we’re supposed to say, “don’t worry about it dude, we’ll be alright.”
Vick has been asserting that this is a fluke season and that he’s not usually this loose with the ball. Well, here’s the truth: Vick leads all active quarterbacks in fumbles lost and is defending that crown this season with eight fumbles (five lost). He has twice led the NFL in fumbles (in 2004 and 2010), and even in ‘04, the year the Falcons went to the NFC title game, he fumbled 16 times and lost 12. In 2010, his MVP runner-up season, he fumbled 11 times and lost eight. This isn’t just fumblitus, this is fumble SARS.
I half-heartedly embraced Vick in 2010 when he had what some people call a “career year,” and kept a slight embrace last season as he fought off injuries and the Eagles, as a whole, fought off common sense in a baffling 8-8 campaign. The off-season was savagely good in both free agency and the draft and Vick talked about committing himself to greatness like never before. Things seemed to be on the way up. The big time national predictors said the Eagles were on the cusp on greatness, if Vick could avoid the chillin’ list. I didn’t totally buy it, but to his credit, Vick hasn’t missed a game yet and, at 3-2, the Eagles are in first place in the NFC East. It could be a lot worse.
That is, until you realize that it could be a lot better too.
This particular cut of sirloin that I have is based on long-term projections. Not playoffs or Super Bowl, I’m talking about Week 13 and Week 15. Getting into position for a championship run is the focus here. See, long-time Eagle fans such as myself, we don’t care about the regular season, really. The McNabb years spoiled us in some ways. We knew we were gonna win double-digit games, make the playoffs and win a game or two while there. That was a given. Our issue was always about getting to and then winning a championship. The stakes were higher and the payoff was infinitely more grand. Nowadays, we don’t know what to think. We see things that are not congruent for a team with title aspirations. Worse, we see Comedy Central manifested as turnovers in our franchise QB. To fumble is to be human, but this right here, this is Fumble City and Vick is running for Mayor. He’s also running for School Superintendent and City Comptroller. It’s just not good enough.
At this point, Eagle fans have to ask themselves, what exactly is the Michael Vick Experience? If anything, it’s experimental, as in, is it possible to construct a gameplan for a QB under six feet and 210 pounds with a cannon arm, but suspect read-and-react skills?
Slowly but surely, Eagle fans are beginning to understand that turnovers are just the cost of admission when dealing with Vick. Question is, when is that cost too much to bear? It’s now at the precipice of really turning fans against him. There’s something about the nature of fumbles that make them a more grating turnover than interceptions. With a pick, a ball might get tipped or a sudden gust of wind may cause a ball to sail, sometimes a corner or safety just makes a better play. Fans might hate it, but by and large, it’s just part of the game. Fumbles, though – they’re dispiriting. It’s literally like getting something taken from you. The optics are way different with fumbles, too. With replays, we can see when someone just strips a guy or blasts the ball through blunt force trauma. It seems weak and feeble – childish even.
Vick fans and Eagle fans (two very different bases, btw) understand that he’ll never consistently be able to pick up the hot read. That’s why people are always talking about him needing to throw the ball quicker or throw it away more often. We can live with that. It might not be good-looking football, but it can be effective. Turnovers though – and fumbles especially – will not be tolerated. It’s still relatively early in the year, but if this isn’t somehow rectified (better technique? more bootlegs?) it can unravel the whole season. Which means, we might be looking at the end of the Mike Vick Experiment, one that frankly, didn’t amount to a whole lot of anything.