The goals for Michael Vick in 2012 are clear to everyone. For the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, Vick has to be on the field, in good health and operating the offense with high efficiency. We all agree on that. No lack of respect for Mike Kafka, Trent Edwards, Nick Foles or whomever the coaches would turn to should Vick suffer an injury, but the Eagles are simply a better football team with No. 7 on the field.
So what do reporters ask Vick when they have a chance to interview him during this offseason? The questions are natural: How are you going to stay healthy? How can you avoid contacts? Blah, blah, blah ...
There is no way that Vick is going to radically change the way he plays football. He is going to try to keep plays alive with his legs and his quickness. He is going to duck out of the clutches of a defensive lineman and spin out of the grasp of a blitzing linebacker and he is going to get into the open field and try to make defenders miss.
Michael Vick is going to be Michael Vick.
Now, he's a veteran quarterback and it has been stressed to him by the coaching staff that he needs to learn to live to see another play. So if he has a choice of trying to bust through two tacklers or hitting the ground and avoiding the contact, Vick needs to be smart and avoid the contact. If he thinks that he can do more by dancing down the sidelines to gain 4 more yards before a defender levels him, Vick needs to be smarter than that.
If he thinks, however, that he can avoid contact, well, that just isn't reality in the NFL. Vick is going to get hit. All quarterbacks get hit. There is an element of luck involved with staying healthy and the Eagles have to hope they land on the right side of the 50/50 shot of keeping Vick on the field this season.
So this isn't a call for Vick to change his game. He can pick and choose his spots, maybe, and also anticipate contact better and prepare for the collision and perhaps even modify a slide just to get out of harm's way. I want to see Vick break the pocket and send a dagger down the heart of a defense by running for a key first down. I want to see defenses account for his playmaking ability. I want to see the Eagles roll the pocket and even design a run or two for Vick if they think they can aid the cause and win a game.
At the same time, Vick doesn't need to be the show for the Eagles' offense. He is the key ingredient, yes, but he doesn't need to carry the day. This is an offense well stocked in scheme and talent and chemistry. Vick is best served to be a facilitator for the offense and distribute the football and then get out of the way and let LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek do the heavy lifting.
It's a mentality that I think Vick understands. Early in his career, in Atlanta, he was the guy who made all the plays. He didn't have as much talent around him. Here, in 2012, with the Eagles, Vick just has to play all the plays.
If he does that, and he manages the game rather than trying to force the issue too many times, the Eagles are going to score a boatload of points. I look at the Eagles this way: The defense has a chance to be good, really good. But it isn't a defense that has to hold opponents to 13 points a game every week to win, because the Eagles' offense is going to score some points. And Vick and Co. don't need to feel the pressure of scoring 30 points every week to win, because the defense is going to keep the team in games every week.
All the Eagles need is some good fortune in the health department, a great work ethic and a high level of focus and they are going to compete in every game and they're going to win a lot of them.
This season is not about re-inventing Michael Vick. It's about everyone doing his job, and his job only, and coming together as a team and hoping that this collection of players and coaches -- a group that should have every Eagles fan absolutely on the edge of his/her seat waiting for the season to begin -- joins forces and starts strong and gets hot and stays that way. To me, through the first couple of weeks of this offseason, the talent jumps off the field for this team. The coaching staff is all on the same page. The Eagles are contenders and there is no question in my mind about that.
To win everything, the chances are that Vick has to be on the field each week. He knows it. You know it. The reporters know it. To suggest he has to change his game and go in a new direction isn't realistic. It isn't necessary, and it isn't going to happen. Vick is too entrenched in his ways to have a complete overhaul.
But a tweak here and there will help the Eagles win big. That's the story with Vick now and moving forward. It's what he works on every day, what is on the top of his mind every time he steps on the football field.
Michael Vick is Michael Vick, and that's a great thing. A little perspective and some veteran's maturity should be enough to push him and the Eagles to where we all want them to be.