Like a movie director who’s seen enough, McNabb wanted the offense to do another take. This time, without Vick.
In his debut with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday, Vick did a little bit of everything — except help the offense score a touchdown. Playing his first NFL game since his release from prison, Vick lined up at quarterback, wide receiver and ran the wildcat formation. He completed four passes for 19 yards and ran once for a yard in his first action in 32 months.
“Regardless of what we are doing, if I am out there, I just want to be productive,” Vick said.
Maybe next time.
The Eagles signed the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback to add a new dimension to their offense — a unit that scored a franchise-record 416 points last season without Vick. It’s obvious the Eagles coaching staff still has to figure out the best way to use Vick’s skills.
Vick’s presence is intended to confuse defenses and make Philadelphia’s offense unpredictable. Instead, the Eagles looked out of sync when he was on the field with McNabb.
Vick’s six plays in four series netted 3 points. That’s why McNabb decided it was time to tell the coaches to stop with the trickery and stick to what works. The Eagles won the preseason game, 33-32, on David Akers’ field goal in the final minute.
“When you’re trying something new, it’s important that you get into a rhythm first and then try to work it in there in the offense,” McNabb said. “At some point you have to get into a rhythm and get things going down the field and move the chains. Then you kind of show them something, but this was the first time. That’s what preseason is for, trying some different things and seeing if you want to run them during the year or eliminate them in the offense. We got that out of the way and now we can move on.”
With Vick and McNabb on the field together, the Eagles should have more options. But against Jacksonville on Thursday night, the wildcat offense they ran looked more like the wildkitten.
“Last year the wildcat was new and exciting,” Jaguars defensive end Reggie Hayward said. “But we were prepared for it. You’re not gonna get the ’ooohs and aaahs’ from us.”
Eagles coach Andy Reid wasn’t concerned that incorporating Vick early — he came in for the second play — disrupted the offense’s rhythm.
“If you’re going to use (the wildcat) a little bit, then you have to work it in there,” Reid said. “That’s what we’re going to do as we go down the road here. I expect the guys to make that part of the rhythm and make it work. That will happen there.”
Reid doesn’t plan to play his starters in the preseason finale next week and hasn’t decided on whether Vick will see action. It’s likely Vick will get reps under center in a conventional offense. After all, quarterback is his primary position.
Vick said he eventually wants to be a full-time QB, but he’s content doing whatever it takes to help the Eagles win now.
“I just want to be able to make plays, to be able to say I contribute and that I helped this football team reach that one common goal,” he said. “That is winning and hopefully winning a championship. I am humbled, I want to sit back and learn as much as I can and polish my skills as a quarterback.”
Vick acknowledged that he’s not in tiptop shape after spending 18 months in prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring. He still has a long way to go to be ready physically and mentally.
“That is why I go home and study every night, that’s why I prepare myself and that’s why I am spending that extra time after practice trying to get my body back to playing shape,” he said. “I am almost there, about 70 percent there. So, right now I am just going off my natural ability. Once I get myself into top shape, the sky is the limit.”
Vick is not eligible to play in the regular season yet. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by no later than Week 6 (Oct. 18-19).