M.V., M.V.P.?

‘The Blindside’ – Tremendous story of love and opportunity intersecting at the right moment of the right life. But even Michael Oher himself will admit a few ‘Hollywood liberties’ were taken to help the story tug on the heartstrings with a bit more fervor.

‘Rocky’ – Triumphant story of a boxers refusal to quit, to give up, to be defeated even in the face of the most daunting adversity. However, trying to locate the real life equivalent of Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, or Ivan Drago will prove a wild goose chase.

‘Rudy’ – Terrific story of a young man’s determination to play football for Notre Dame in spite of his slight physical stature. Yet just this year Joe Montana shed light on the truth which is drastically less dramatic than the movie. Can’t blame Hollywood, that’s in their job description.

However:

‘Michael Vick: Prison to NFL MVP’ – Terrible idea! Not realistic! Hollywood rule #1: don’t undermine your audience, rewrite it if you ever want to see it on a big screen!

Thank God for real life and the rare moments when unbelievable stories are only believable because they’re happening right in front of us.

We all know the struggles that lead to Michael Vick being vilified and ultimately becoming the Eagles 3rd string QB. The transformation since has been nothing short of remarkable. On the field and off.

I’m not going to get into his off-field troubles and subsequent efforts to rebuild his reputation. I’m not Hollywood, the NFL is not the box office. I wan to focus on the on-field transformation that makes Michael Vick a legitimate NFL MVPm
candidate.

Vick completely changes the Eagles offense. Defensive coordinators have had a combined 6.7 hours of sleep the night before pitting their schemes against Vick 2.0 on national TV.

The excitement Michael Vick had since leaving Virginia Tech and becoming an Atlanta Falcon was “Wow, when this kid gets it…..”. As Vick’s arrogance grew and he floundered away some of his prime years the question became “Ugh, IF he gets it…..”. He may have taken the longest road known to man, but now, Vick gets it.

And, seemingly, just in time.

He’s still the most athletically gifted man in the stadium on any given Sunday. His speed has returned and his shiftiness in the pocket as well as the open field can only be described as Playstation-like.

With Vick heading into his 30’s I’m not sure how long this combination will last, but while it does we should heed TO’s advice and get our popcorn ready.

(sidenote: I promise this will be the only time I’ll write the words ‘heed TO’s advice’.)

Andy Reid’s system is perfect for Michael Vick’s talents. When Donovan McNabb was a mobile QB with an explosive passing game the Eagles enjoyed their best success in team history. However, as soon as McNabb lost his mobility Reid promptly traded him to the Redskins. The idea was for Kevin Kolb to learn and grow into the position while Reid slowly rebuilt the team. The emergence of Vick 2.0 meant that Andy Reid A) kept his job, and, B) looked like a genius.

Now, not only does Andy Reid have a Vick 2.0 but thanks to Donovan McNabb he also has a Deluxe Edition McNabb.

The evolution of Michael Vick as a passing quarterback gives one of the NFL’s most brilliant offensive minds the ability to call any play, any situation, any down, any time. If Vick doesn’t find an open receiver, he’s averaging 6.3yds per carry. That gives Reid the potential to stretch the defense on any given down by sending one of the fastest men in the league (Desean Jackson) on a go route.

The only thing Jackson can’t outrun is Vick’s arm. It only takes watching the opening play versus the Washington Redskins to realize that. Vick launched the football 65 yards in the air with a flick of his wrist. No exaggerated stride or lengthy windup motion. It looked effortless. Jackson actually had to switch into 5th gear to catch up to it.

Add a completion percentage of 64%, a 105.7 QB rating (2nd behind Tom Brady’s 105.8), and the highest TD-INT ratio in the league and this is the Vick that previously only existed in Madden.

This Vick is understanding that though his physical gifts are immense, it’s growing in leadership and maturity that will complete him not only as a quarterback but as a person. Vick is starting to take ownership of this offense and his role as a leader on this team by leading clutch drives, making pressure throws, and converting key 3rd downs.

With Michael Vick as the starter the Eagles have compiled a 6-2 record versus being just 2-2 without him. In the 8 games with Vick as a starter he has the Philadelphia Eagles averaging 10 more points per game than the 4 game sample size without him. In a league as offensively skewed as today’s NFL that difference is astonishing. It’s the difference between being .500 and fighting for home field advantage in the playoffs.

The obvious personal story surrounding Vick’s struggles and path to redemption is something I’ll let Disney analyze. I know he paid his dues and I know everyone deserves a second chance. Plenty of athletes serve no penalty whatsoever for crimes far worse. Doesn’t make any of it right, but it is something that needs to be realized.

In the end, none of his personal struggles should be taken into account when considering Michael Vick for NFL MVP.

Vick’s on-field play makes him a strong enough candidate without the background story.

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