Michael Vick: ‘I Was The Originator’ Of Option Offense
The Eagles’ quarterback revolutionized the game while with the Falcons in the early 2000s, making him still a good fit for what new head coach Chip Kelly hopes to accomplish.
BY ZAC BOYER
ASHBURN – Had the zone read been the hot new trend in the NFL when Michael Vick left college over a decade ago, it could have been him – and not Robert Griffin III, or Cam Newton, or Russell Wilson, or Colin Kaepernick – serving as the face of the league.
“I think about it and what I could have been able to accomplish in that type of offense, but I also respect the fact that I came in 2001 and I had a different set of coaches who built things differently,” Vick said. “And I learned so much from them that having that dimension now to my game – adding that only makes me a better quarterback.”
Vick, the No. 1 overall pick by the Falcons in 2001, dazzled in only two seasons at Virginia Tech. He finished third in the race for the Heisman Trophy in 1999, his freshman season, and ran for 210 yards during a game against Boston College as a sophomore.
But he didn’t exclusively run the option – especially not the zone read popularized within the past 10 years. Rather, Vick gained a lot of yards off his scrambling ability, which hasn’t faded much even as he’s gotten older.
He’s a natural fit for new Eagles head coach Chip Kelly’s uptempo offense, which does use the read option extensively. He ran for more than 750 yards in three of his four full seasons as the Falcons’ starting quarterback, and he’s averaged more than 6.5 yards per carry in all but two of the seven seasons in which he started more than five games.
“I feel like I was kind of the ambassador of this offense in the NFL, like I was the originator,” Vick said. “In 2006, I ran for 1,000 yards running the same type of read option offense, you know? It’s in the record books, and I couldn’t have done it without running the read option. I don’t think you can be a dropback passer and run for 1,000 yards in one season, so it was a big accomplishment for me. It was something that I was shooting for.”
The Eagles dragged out their quarterback competition through the summer, with Vick and Nick Foles, entering his second season, vying for the top job. Vick appeared to be a better fit for Kelly’s offense than Foles, who started six games last season including both against the Redskins.
“I think Mike won the quarterback battle because he had a great grasp of what we were doing and understanding our system,” Kelly said. “He’s obviously got a real good physical skill set. His arm is as good as there is in the league. He can flick the ball in a lot of different arm angles, gets the ball off extremely quick. He’s got a great release, strong arm and you add that to his ability to keep plays alive and to use his feet as a weapon, so he’s got a real good skill set for what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who followed Vick at Virginia Tech, wasn’t surprised that he reclaimed the starting quarterback job.
“I feel like Mike fit perfectly into what they wanted him to do as far as running that offense,” Hall said. “As far as seeing the Mike Vick of old, we haven’t seen a lot of film to justify that. But he’s going to be juiced up. He’s playing for a contract. They’re talking about running him out of town, so he’s got a lot of added pressure on himself to go out there and make plays.”
If he can succeed this season, the 33-year-old, who signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract in February, could find himself earning starter’s money somewhere.
“I feel rejuvenated,” Vick said. “I feel like I have the opportunity to do some great things and show my talents I still possess, so that’s a bit of excitement, and throughout the course of the summer I’ve been able to expand on what I’ve learned and I really feel good about where we’re going.”