Sooner or later, the dust will settle and we'll all get down to the business of looking for ways to improve our team for 2012. Were we close, were we fool's gold? Did we get better at the end of the year, or did the competition just get worse? I will leave those issues for other's to debate.
What I am talking about is simply this: The engine for the current eagles to get to the Super Bowl is now Michael Vick. In 2010, the answer in Eagles fans' minds was "YES!". After a bleak 2011 where Vick seemed to regress, there are many asking the obvious question - is Vick simply comfy now that he has his big payday?
Let's not be too hasty. Some things changed in 2011 that were not simply Vicks paycheck.
"Andy Reid echoed an optimism sentiment about Michael Vick’s added responsibility of calling protection schemes prior to the snap and about the revamped offensive line." Geoff Mosher 12 Sept 2011 "Philadelphia Eagles team report"
A high energy quarterback with a propensity to run like the wind given responsibilities for calling the protection despite no offseason to practice the terminology? Hmmm.... Add to that the fact that Mudd loves to drill his quarterbacks with a stop watch... forcing them to make a quick decisions. Peyton Manning flourished under Mudd's tutelage. Vick never got the chance. Did the pressure of added responsibilities with little to no practice at the new scheme take it's toll? I have no doubt that nobody will admit it, but if you look at the decision making in 2010 versus the decision making in 2011, I believe that there is sufficient evidence that something happened. Something regressed. Something went wrong, or simply didn't go as right as we had hoped. And yes. I already hear the arguments: "Tell that to the 49ers, the Broncos, the Bengals!". My response? There were more changes in the eagles than all of those teams pushed together. We had more personnel changes, more coaching changes, more scheme changes, more changes in responsibilities than virtually any other team. And we presumed that if we signed marquis names that it would all flow through seamlessly. We know how that fairytale ended. The 2012 season is not on Reid's shoulders, Castillo's shoulders, or even Bowles shoulders. The 2012 season is on Vick's shoulders. He, more than any other guy, needs to spend as much time as it takes in the film room, in drills, in one on one's with Mudd and that stopwatch, to elevate his game to the next level. The paycheck says he's an elite quarterback. But the performance in 2011 did not. Michael Vick, the challenge on you has never been greater. Michael Vick, the hopes of our team are upon you. Michael Vick, Time's yours.