A fitting apparent end to Michael Vick era

October, 29, 2013
10/29/13
9:00
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PHILADELPHIA -- Chances are that Michael Vick will see the field again in an Eagles uniform. That's just how Chip Kelly's first season as head coach has unfolded, as a game of musical chairs in the quarterback meeting room.

Chances are also very good that Sunday's 15-7 loss to the New York Giants marked Vick's final chance to convince Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman that he can be the quarterback here beyond 2013. It was a fitting valedictory performance, encapsulating all the risks that come with Vick's unquestioned gifts.

After mostly avoiding the turnover plague that defined his previous two seasons, Vick threw a terrible interception on the third play against the Giants. Bad decision, bad throw, bad way to set the tone. He walked off the field shaking his head.

[+] EnlargePhiladelphia's Michael Vick
AP Photo/Michael PerezMichael Vick reinjured his hamstring in Sunday's loss to the New York Giants.
On his very next play, Vick turned right into an approaching defender. He kept backpedaling, losing more yardage with each step, then fumbled. The ball was actually under Giants safety Antrel Rolle's shoulder -- if he'd realized what it was, the Giants would have had the ball at the Eagles' 9-yard line.

Vick reinjured his left hamstring on a play strikingly similar to the one on which he injured it in the first place. That happened back on Oct. 6 against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Once again, Vick took the snap. Once again, he had time but couldn't get comfortable in the pocket. Once again, he started running to his left. Once again, he crossed the sideline by the Giants' bench and felt his hamstring pop.

This time, Vick trotted back to the middle of the field as if nothing was wrong. He clearly didn't want to let on -- to the Giants defense, to his teammates, to Kelly -- what had just happened.

That's Vick. His toughness is as unquestioned as his talent. He probably shouldn't have played at all Sunday, but he did. He probably shouldn't have stayed in the game after feeling his hamstring pop, but he did.

On the very next play, Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph bulldozed Eagles guard Todd Herremans, pushing him straight back more than 5 yards and into Vick. As the quarterback tried to extricate himself, Justin Tuck materialized. Tuck crushed Vick as he threw the ball away, drawing an intentional grounding penalty.

An interception. A sack. A fumble. A grounding call. All in the first quarter. Vick reappeared for a series in the second quarter, but you could tell the play calling was dictated by the quarterback's condition. Kelly called for a couple of quick outs and a handful of runs -- nothing that called for Vick to stand in the pocket for long or to move.

And that was it. Vick retreated to the bench and put a towel over his head. The TV cameras caught him looking stricken or being consoled by teammates as Matt Barkley operated the offense.

Vick understands the situation. After this miscalculation and reinjury, he will likely take longer to rehab the hamstring this time. Factor in the Eagles' bye week and it could be over a month before Vick is able to play. By then, with perhaps four games left, what would be the point of going back to the 33-year-old with the expiring contract?

If the Eagles are out of the playoff hunt, which seems likely, there would be none. And if the Eagles are in the playoff hunt, that would mean Nick Foles or Barkley is playing well enough to get them there. Either way, the season becomes about the future, and Vick is not the future.

Chances are, injuries or other issues will force Vick back onto the field before the season ends. But the Vick era in Philadelphia, such as it was, likely ended Sunday with his hamstring throbbing, a towel over his head, and his team enduring yet another loss.

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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