His health has been a topic of conversation since the moment Michael Vick became a quarterback for the Eagles. Part of his injury history, as it is with any player, is owed to fate. But part of it –- perhaps the largest part –- is a direct result of how Vick plays, his willingness to put his head down and take a thumping rather than slide and avoid yet another crushing collision.
Chip Kelly said he’d sleep a lot better knowing Vick is fit and fully functional each week. But the head coach also added that Vick’s mentality makes him “a special player.”
“That’s one of his truly good qualities and maybe a truly bad quality at times," Kelly said. "When you see him in the Redskins game trying to lead block on a play -– you know what I mean? You want a quarterback with that mentality, obviously.
“I think he’s done a better job from a decision-making standpoint on that. I don’t think Mike has taken a lot of really big hits. I think, for Mike, it’s frustrating. He runs out of bounds and does what he’s supposed to do and hurts his hamstring. I know, probably in the back of his mind, he was like, ‘If I had just run that guy over, I wouldn’t have hurt my hamstring.’ I don’t think he’s taking the hits. He’s really been conscious of trying to get down and trying to get out of bounds and do things the right way. That’s why I think this is a little bit frustrating for him.”
During training camp, Vick said he would try to slide more this season and even joked “one day I’ll get it.” It didn’t take long for him to reverse course on that front. In early September, Vick talked about being 220 pounds, training to take serious hits and controlling “everything that can happen out there on the field.”
As Kelly pointed out, Vick’s hamstring injury isn’t contact-related. But Vick has missed the last two games. He’s played a full season only once in his career -– back in 2006, his last campaign with the Falcons. But if there are people who believe Vick's tough-guy mentality often puts him at unnecessary risk -- thereby hurting the team as a result -- Kelly didn't sound like he'd place himself in that camp.
“In terms of Mike’s toughness, I think it’s a quality in all quarterbacks that’s very underrated,” Kelly said. “You stand back there in the pocket and you let a bunch of 300-pounders run full speed at you and you’re not supposed to look at them. You’re supposed to concentrate on the receiver, or the read you’re supposed to do, and then let it go and know you’re going to get hit. That takes a truly tough guy.”