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Football Speaking, How Does Vick Help?

It is an amazing day at the NovaCare Complex. On the one hand, there is the normal buzz over the first preseason game of the year and some of the good and not-as-good things that happened for the Eagles. On the other hand, the team is in the center of the media universe as camera crews line up for the Michael Vick press conference and the conversation escalates around the water cooler.

Fascinating times, rarely rivaled in my time here. No matter the side you take, the addition of Vick to the Eagles is a story you can't ignore. The Eagles have presented their reasons for signing Vick, citing their extensive research on his plight and their belief that Vick is a rehabilitated man who deserves a second chance. I'll give Andy Reid, an excellent judge of character and of how players fit into the scheme of the Eagles' locker room, the nod here. If Reid believes in Vick, you can be sure he took into consideration every possible angle to the story.

From a purely football standpoint, it makes all the sense in the world. I don't know the particulars of the one-year contract -- plus a one-year team option -- Vick signed, but I can't imagine that the Eagles put themselves at much of a risk here. What happens next is that Vick comes in, addresses the media and then goes about the business of becoming an Eagle. That means Vick digs into the playbook, reports to the NovaCare Complex early on Saturday and takes the field for that day's practice.

What kind of player will he be? That remains to be seen. Obviously the two years away from the NFL have taken a toll, in ways that we don't yet know. The Eagles are going to find all of fhat out very quickly as they work him into the plan. While may be in tremendous physical shape, there is a huge leap to be completely football ready. Vick is suspended and can't play next Thursday against the Colts, but he is eligible to go in the third and fourth preseason games. Suddenly, those games have a hugely-added excitement.

I have big dreams in my head. I know that Vick was a star quarterback in Atlanta, and I know that he has the skill set that few in this league have ever had. I also know that Donovan McNabb is the quarterback here now, and through 2010 and hopefully for many years to follow. I know, absolutely know, that McNabb is thrilled to have Vick on his side and so any doubts that people have regarding the compatability of the two shouldn't be a factor.

To me, the way for Vick to help the Eagles this season is to be Slash, Jr. Kordell Stewart kick started his career with the Steelers that way. He was used as a quarterback, a wide receiver and a return man. While I don't see Vick as a return man, I can see using him all around the formation. He can line up and play quarterback, both from under center when the Eagles spread the field and from under center as the Eagles call some roll-outs, sprint/options and maybe even incorporate the straight option into the offense.

I can see Vick lining up as a receiver and coming in motion and taking a pitch and heading to the edge. I can see the Eagles faking a handoff to him and watching the entire defense roll to his side to account for his speed and then going to the other side of the field to favorable matchups. I can see Vick catching a bubble screen and operating in the open field. I can see Vick in the shotgun in the red zone with DeSean Jackson, Brian Westbrook, Shady McCoy and Kevin Curtis spread out on the line of scrimmage.

I can see Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg devising packages around Vick's extraordinary athletic skills and forcing defenses to account for him. And, yes, I can see defensive coordinators spending a lot of time in their pre-game planning devoting a scheme to limit the damage Vick can do. That alone is a weapon for the Eagles.

All of this is assuming that Vick is close to the same kind of athlete he was when he played for the Falcons. The Eagles always did a good job against Vick because they had speed on the defense and they could match up with the so-so receivers the Falcons had on the outside and then they could run after Vick with a spy on the inside. If Vick comes into the game for 10, 15, 20 snaps, how can a defense organize a spy tactic so quickly?

We don't yet know what kind of football player Michael Vick is today. We know that when he a Falcon, he averaged 7.3 yards per carry and that he gained 1,039 yards on 123 carries in his final season here, in 2006. If you have a chance to add a football talent like that, and you are convinced that Vick is a changed and better man, and that he will fit into the locker room, you make the move. You take the chance.

Is it a risk? In many ways, of course. Reid and the Eagles and the entire organization are willing to walk forward together. On this most incredible day, the NovaCare Complex and the Eagles Universe of fans is the place to be. Michael Vick is an Eagle. How would have ever thought that could happen? It did, and here we are, wondering how this new piece to the offense will fit in and hopefully help the Eagles win the Super Bowl.

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