That doesn’t seem like a very bold prediction unless you take into account that Vick has been injured on the Eagles’ sixth offensive play in each of their first two preseason games.
In another sense, though, it’s not a very bold prediction. The prediction is based on Vick not stepping on the field against the Browns. It’s also unlikely he will see action the following Thursday (Aug. 30) in the Eagles’ preseason finale against the Jets.
Vick has become the Eagles’ china doll. He’s much safer on the shelf, where he’s out of reach of opposing linemen and linebackers, than he is on the field.
Maybe the Eagles got away with one Monday against the Patriots. Maybe next time Vick’s ribs break instead of merely being bruised.
That’s how fragile the Eagles’ championship aspirations have become. If their china doll breaks, their dreams of success will be shattered.
This doesn’t mean the Eagles are a one-man team. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles has performed extremely well during the Eagles’ preseason victories over the Steelers and Patriots. But we must remember that Foles hasn’t faced a first-team defense yet. His performance is encouraging, but let’s not be fooled into thinking he will duplicate it if he’s forced into a starting role during the regular season.
If Foles does a half-decent job, the Eagles could still be a half-decent team – even without Vick.
But this season isn’t supposed to be half-decent. After “all in” turned out to be an all-out disaster last season, this was supposed to be the Eagles’ comeback year. They acquired a middle linebacker. They supposedly had a terrific draft. All the new coaches in new positions, including defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, had a full offseason to work with their new players.
All of that will be for naught, however, if Vick can’t make it through the season without missing more than a game or two. If he misses more than two games, it will be difficult for the Eagles to win the NFC East or secure a wild card berth.
The fact that the x-ray machines are getting more of a workout that Vick as a result of his limited action during the first two preseason games isn’t a good omen. Granted, the first injury, a bruised left thumb when Vick’s hand hit center Jason Kelce’s helmet, can be written off as a freak accident. The bruised ribs Vick suffered when hit by Patriots linebacker Jermaine Cunningham on Monday can’t be shrugged off as easily.
Vick has been sidelined by rib injuries each of the past two seasons. Suffering bruised ribs during the preseason is a red flag for the upcoming season.
There is no place to hide once the regular season begins. Sure, Vick can slide or run out of bounds to avoid some hits. Sure, he can throw the ball away sometimes instead of taking off downfield or running around to keep a play alive. But his injury Monday, as was the case with his injury against the Falcons early last season, came when Vick was in the pocket.
Vick isn’t much safer in the pocket than he is on the run. The only place he’s completely safe is on the sidelines.
But the Eagles can’t keep their china doll on the shelf forever. On Sept. 9, they have to send Vick out into the fray, with the Eagles’ fragile championship hopes resting on their quarterback’s fragile health.
Predicting that Vick won’t get injured during the remaining two preseason games isn’t very bold. Predicting that he won’t get injured during the season would be an extremely bold prediction.
That’s a prediction I’d bet very few people are willing to make.