Why Mike?

I know I’m not the only one left in a quandary by the Eagles’ signing of Michael Vick. And while ESPN’s resident football gurus John Clayton and Chris Mortensen love the signing, I have to be honest: I just don’t see it.

A few points to consider:

– This has been an exceedingly tumultuous camp for Philly already. Between the death of the talismanic Jim Johnson, first-rounder Jeremy Maclin’s holdout, and Juqua Parker’s arrest for marijuana possession, there’s been a bunch of issues for the team to deal with off the field. Though the team has already broken camp and can enjoy relative privacy for a while,Vick becomes another distraction.

– On the field, things haven’t been gone much smoother. Starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley’s season-ending ACL tear has caused disruptions on the defense. And a guarantee that the starting offensive line won’t practice together a single time during the preseason thanks to injuries to four-fifths of the group could throw the Eagles’ attack out of sync. Vick’s addition doesn’t help bring continuity on the field, especially if it means completely new offensive packages.

– Doesn’t this seem like a bit of a heavy-handed change for a team whose President just three weeks ago declared to have “the best roster in the league”?

– Everyone seems to be focusing on the fact that this move works because Donovan McNabb is a well-entrenched starter to whom Vick poses no threat. But you can’t tell me that McNabb isn’t looking over his shoulder just a little bit more now. Especially when you consider, as Clayton reports, that Vick’s deal includes an option for next year at $5.2 million. Seems a bit pricey for a gadget-package halfback.

Here’s the bottom line: on paper, this move makes the Eagles’ more talented, but not neccessarily better. While the old adage, “If you have two starting quarterbacks, you have no starting quarterbacks”, doesn’t full apply here, things are getting crowded offensively.

Then there’s the matter of the locker room. Despite Eagles’ players warmly receiving Vick so far, he does have the potential to be a divisive force. An ego like his, coming from someone who has ascended to the pinnacle of popularity and marketability then plummeted just about as far as you can, might die hard.

A lot of coverage by the national media seems to be focused on how Philadelphia is an ideal destination for Vick, but few are considering how Vick fits for the Eagles. And while he is saying the right things, what he will do may be different.

In a division as competitive as the NFC East, every team has top-flight talent. The difference may lay in team chemistry, and it is yet to be seen just how this move will affect that always precarious category.

What we do know right now is that this move does more to create questions than provide answers.

-Matthew De George ’10

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