After signing a new contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, the quarterback stood before reporters knowing he had something to prove to his new coach. Last season he passed for 17 touchdowns, threw 20 interceptions and had a 70.2 QB rating, making the terms of the new contract a bit puzzling. But the veteran spoke to the media with conviction. “I’ve got tremendous faith in my ability,” he said. “I expect to be there opening day. But I’ve got to do that on the field. It’s not going to do any good to sit here in front of everybody and tell everybody what I’m going to do. I’ve got to go out and perform.”
In February Michael Vick penned a new contract, agreeing to less money after an injury-riddled and poorly played season. The contract was the answer to the question, “What is new coach Chip Kelly going to do with Vick?” But the statement above is not from Vick; it was from Ron Jaworski.
It was late July of 1986. The 35 year-old Jaworski was standing in front of the media after a hold out. It was a gamble, but he needed to test how badly the organization wanted him. And, to some degree, they did want him. Norman Braman had just brought in a new coach, Buddy Ryan, who wanted to settle the unsettled quarterback position with some good ol’ fashioned competition. The young, intriguing Randall Cunningham was right there nipping at Jaworski’s heels, but due to the holdout, Jaworski was suddenly second on the depth chart behind new free agent Matt Cavanaugh. So there were three quarterbacks vying for Buddy’s good grace.
Jaworski’s situation in 1986 is not so dissimilar to Vick’s now. Under a new head coach, Vick is newly contracted, albeit for less than originally contracted, but newly nonetheless. And after the draft he is suddenly placed in a situation where he must outperform at least two other quarterbacks on the roster. Also like Jaworski, Vick says all the right things: “I’m here to compete”, “I want to help this organization”, etc. But actions will speak louder than words.
Given health and protection, it’s quite possible that Vick can do more things in Kelly’s offense than Nick Foles or Matt Barkley. If he does and those things lead to wins, great. But he will still do things that drive us crazy. He will get sacked from his blind side, he will run and get hit, he will make questionable decisions, he will fumble, throw interceptions, etc. But it’s OK. During this time Foles and Barkley will watch and learn, because the 33 year-old Vick will not be an Eagle in 2014. And if Vick cannot do more things in Kelly’s offense than Foles or Barkley, then he won’t be here.
I have been pretty vocal about Vick not being the Week 1 starter. However, when comparing this era to Jaworski’s, my attitude may be changing to… so what? Does it really matter if we have a lame duck starter for a year while Foles or Barkley learn from the sidelines?
Jaworski eventually won the 1986 QB competition and started nine games before injury forced Randall Cunningham to play in his stead. After the team finished the season with a 5-10-1 record, Buddy loved Randall enough to release the veteran Jaworski. If history indeed repeats itself, Vick could be the Week 1 starter in 2013. Do I think this will happen? No. Is it a big deal if it does? Nope, not in the slightest.Tags: Buddy Ryan, Chip Kelly, Matt Barkley, Matt Cavanaugh, Michael Vick, NFL, Nick Foles, Norman Braman, Philadelphia Eagles, Randall Cunningham, Ron Jaworski