After suffering injuries in consecutive preseason games earlier this month, Michael Vick remains on track to start in Week 1. And if the manufacturer of his Kevlar flak jacket is to be believed, Vick will be nearly invincible once he puts it on. Head coach Andy Reid certainly hopes there's some truth to this because his future in Philly is tied to the team's success this season. Team chairman Jeffrey Lurie is looking for "substantial improvements" and called "8-8 unacceptable."
Meanwhile, The chairman's expectations for Vick are more fluid. When asked on what standard the Eagles' $100 million quarterback will be judged, Lurie offered this, “Well, there is no set way to measure that, but we expect him to have a terrific year. That’s why he is the starting quarterback. That’s why he’s been signed for a number of years. I have to say that Michael has been everything we could have asked and more in terms of the intangibles.
"Now we just need him to maximize that incredible God given talent, stay healthy, and deliver the kind of offensive performance that great quarterbacks can," Lurie continued during his annual state-of-the-team address . "This is a quarterback driven league and we will go as far as our quarterback play can take us assuming the rest of our team plays well.”
Lurie conceded that one of the reasons he brought Reid back for another season was because of the coach's track record with quarterbacks. Still, Reid and Vick aren't a package deal; if 2012 looks anything like 2011, it sounds like Reid's job will on the line. As for Vick, the team has to find a way to keep him upright and on the field. Lurie understands this.
“Look, I’m a fan, no matter who the quarterback. But with Michael, it’s very important that he do everything he possibly can to try to stay healthy," the chairman said. "It’s not a precise science and so, you know you’re going to have [quarterbacks get hurt]: [Texans QB] Matt Schaub going out for the year, [New England QB Tom] Brady a few years ago and [Broncos QB] Peyton [Manning] last year. You’re going to have things happen, but you just try to up the odds I think of making sure it doesn’t happen. I think there’s things that Michael can do to lower the chances of injury, but it’s a volatile game and that’s a rough and tough position.”
Vick's health is a recurring theme and one we wrote about Thursday. According to the stats-analysis site ProFootballFocus.com, the Eagles' the offensive line isn't terrible, and Vick doesn't get hit on drop backs at a rate substantially higher than the rest of the league. But when a play breaks down and he takes off running, that's when he gets in trouble -- and hurt.
"If the Eagles want to protect their $100 million quarterback, they will have to push him to be more conservative and accept he won't give them the same playmaking abilities that have made him such a phenom," PFF.com's Khaled Elsayed wrote.
Just like Lurie's address, Reid's place on the hot seat is an annual event. The only surprise about this conversation is that we're having it in August.