ATLANTA - DECEMBER 06: Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on from the sidelines during their 34-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on December 6, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
I know that Michael Vick hasn't started a game in three years. I know that even when he started games he was never a great quarterback. I know that if Vick starts a game in Philadelphia it means that Kevin Kolb has been unfortunately injured and the team will undoubtably go down in a horrific display of offensive ineptitidue.
Yet despite all that irrefutable knowledge, I cannot avoid one macabre fact of my Eagles fandom: I want to see Michael Vick start a game.
This desire goes way back to Vick's days in Atlanta. Other football fans I know always said things like, "Michael Vick is terrible. He will never be part of a good offense." Some rational part of me would agree with them, but often I would argue back, "A smart offensive coordinator would find a way to win with Vick's talents."
This whole thing started long before Vick got out of prison, when Andy Reid started daydreaming about what it would be like to have Vick on the team.
Reid was a fan of the football player Vick had been for six seasons in Atlanta. His fleet feet. His escapability. His penchant for turning a nothing play into a big something. The possibility of having Vick as part of the Eagles' spread offense had Reid salivating.
As NFL offenses have begun to look more and more like the college spread and the wildcat formation has proliferated around the league, this mythic "Michael Vick offense" has come closer to creation. Certainly I'm not the only one who sees this. Jeff Fisher in Tennessee has embraced a limited spread offense for Vince Young. Denver coach Josh McDaniels looks poised to do so at some point with Tim Tebow.
Reid is drinking the Kool-Aid as well. Even with just Kevin Kolb in the backfield, he's calling option plays and quarterback draws. Kolb probably isn't athletic enough to run such a hybrid attack.
But Michael Vick? Perhaps even more than Young or Tebow, Vick has shown that he has the athletic talent and ability to shoulder a running back load. The question for him, and these other quarterbacks, has always been passing. He has potential. In a piece for SB Nation Philly, scout Tommy Lawlor wrote:
Vick will never be a pure pocket passer. He has made big strides in that area since joining the Eagles. In Atlanta he didn't take film study and game preparation very seriously. Vick did his own thing on the field and was so naturally gifted that he got away with it. He seems to realize that just isn't possible anymore...
Judging Vick as a passer has always been complicated. Too many people mistook his desire to run for a lack of ability. Vick has a very good arm, for both distance and velocity. He can throw the ball a mile down the field or fire a bullet out to the sideline. He can be very accurate. The problem he had previously was sloppy mechanics.
Someday a quarterback will come along who can throw accurately out of the spread and also pose a significant running threat. Such a Vince Young/Drew Brees mash-up would be a dangerous offensive weapon. However, until that time Michael Vick (if he has truly made strides with his throwing mechanics and watching film) is the closest the NFL has come to this ideal — an ideal both myself and Andy Reid seem anxious to witness.
Even though I logically doubt any start by Michael Vick will be anything more than a boring and turnover-filled Eagles loss, I still harbor some hope that Reid and Vick can show us something different, something special. That unhealty hope will last as long as Michael Vick dons the midnight green uniform.