Vick’s job as the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles has never been less secure than it is now. He’s going to have to prove himself on a weekly basis going forward.
“I’m giving it everything that I’ve got and I’m going to continue to do that,” Vick said Wednesday. “I can sit here at my locker and say, ‘We’re going to do it. We’re going to get it done.’ It has to happen on Sundays. That’s it. Bottom line.”
The Eagles (3-3) are coming off a bye that followed two straight losses on final-play field goals.
Coach Andy Reid already made it clear he’ll do whatever he can to turn the team around when he fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo after six games. After that move, Reid sent notice to the players that everyone’s job is on the line, including Vick’s.
So far, only left tackle Demetress Bell has been benched. King Dunlap, who lost the job to Bell after getting injured, will start Sunday’s game against Atlanta (6-0).
As for Vick, mediocre isn’t going to cut it this season. Rookie third-round pick Nick Foles had an impressive preseason, and Reid could make a switch if Vick continues giving the ball away. Vick has 13 of Philadelphia’s 17 turnovers on eight interceptions and five fumbles.
“Just protect the ball,” Vick said. “It’s not hard. It’s not a science to it; just protect the football at all times. Despite the circumstances, I still sit back there and try to make the plays that I know I can make and that’s just me and my confidence in myself and confidence in the guys.”
Vick hasn’t been the same player he was in 2010 when he led the Eagles to an NFC East title, went to his fourth Pro Bowl and was The Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year. He has 19 turnovers — 13 interceptions and six fumbles — in the last 15 games.
With Reid knowing his job is on the line this year unless the Eagles go deep in the playoffs, Vick may not get too much more time to straighten his game out.
“We talk every day and that’s important to be real and understand the things that we see in our study,” Reid said. “Make sure there is communication there which is important. There’s a trust there, also an urgency that we get ourselves right. He knows that. Nobody is more competitive than Michael Vick. Nobody. I mean he is a tough, competitive kid.”
Toughness isn’t Vick’s issue, of course. Accuracy and carelessness with the ball are the two main problems. Vick completed 62.6 percent of his passes, threw 21 touchdown passes and just six interceptions and had a passer rating of 100.2 in 2010. Since then, his completion percentage is 59.5 and he has a passer rating of only 82.3 with 26 TDs and 22 picks in 19 games.
“The game of football doesn’t change,” Vick said. “The thing is, you’ve just got to make good decisions in the moment and I’ve just got to protect the football. That’s been the only thing that’s been my problem and the only thing I’ve had to deal with. It sounds like it’s easy and sometimes it can be, but sometimes you get to pressing and you make decisions that you shouldn’t make. I’ve just got to be conscious in the moment.”
While Vick’s turnovers are up, his rushing numbers are down. He’s on pace to run for 547 yards, which would be his lowest total in a full season. His average of 5.0 yards per carry also is his lowest as a starter.
Vick showed that he can excel in the pocket two years ago. But he doesn’t have as much time to throw now because the offensive line has struggled. Injuries to All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters and center Jason Kelce have caused problems for Philadelphia in front of Vick.
Vick said he’s not running less by design. Maybe he should go back to his scrambling ways, however. He posed more trouble for defenses when he was making things happen on the ground.
“I pretty much have that option each and every play,” he said. “It depends on what happens. I can’t really dictate when I want to run. I can take off and run every play if I wanted to, but I choose not to do that. It’s unfair to the guys that I play with, to the hard work that they put in, the effort in getting downfield and working to get open. So, I’ve got to give those guys a chance and that’s important.”
Vick will be starting against his former team for the second time since his return to the NFL after two years away because of his imprisonment on dogfighting charges. Vick was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the fourth quarter of a 35-31 loss at Atlanta in Week 2 last year. The Eagles had a 10-point lead when Vick went down.
Wide receiver Roddy White and center Todd McClure are the offensive players who played with Vick that remain with the Falcons. Vick downplayed facing the team that drafted him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2001 and helped turn him into a megastar.
“It’s exciting,” he said simply.