Football is a supremely physical sport. Players in the National Football League have been getting injured in numerous ways for several years. One of the most polarizing figures in the NFL is Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Michael Vick. Vick, his dog fighting issues aside, has been one of the most stellar and one of the most heartbreaking quarterbacks at the same time for the Eagles’ faithful. Vick, in the past 2 years has been on both sides of spectrum of quality of play at the quarterback position. Many have critiqued Michael Vick’s play as being too dangerous. He has often gotten injured and decimated the Eagle’s playoff chances by not being available for the next game. As many teams now know, the quality of quarterback play for a team can either elevate a team or sink their team. In the case of the Eagles, when your starting quarterback is injured and the team is forced to start the back up quarterback, their chances of winning are decreased dramatically.
In the past two years, Michael Vick has played 25 of a possible 32 regular season games for the Eagles. Playing 78% of the games the past two years does not sound that bad but when the expectation is to play 100% of the regular season games, it is very easy to get angry at a quarterback who is injured often. Vick plays quarterback very well when he is healthy; he is normally very accurate, has a strong arm and can run the ball to gain yards on plays when the receivers are not able to get open. In 2011, Vick ran the ball 76 times for 589 yards and 1 touchdown. In his career year in 2010, Vick ran the ball 100 times for 676 yards and 9 touchdowns. Now looking at these numbers you might say that Vick was definitely a better runner in 2010, but is that really true? I think the more accurate statement is: Vick was a riskier runner in 2010 than he was in 2011.
If in 2011, he limited his quarterback runs down by essentially 25%, he averaged 7.8 yards/attempt (1 more full yard than 2010) and he is still getting hurt (having sat out only 1 less game last year than in 2010) what should Vick do? Well the obvious answer is to stop making risky runs and just throw the ball. Quarterbacks throw the ball and running backs run the ball. Football 101. The problem is not even a lack of a good running back, LeSean McCoy; the Philadelphia Eagles’ running back is one of the best running backs in the league. Finishing with 1309 yards rushing and 17 rushing touchdowns, McCoy is a do it all back who has been vastly more durable than Vick and is a vastly better rusher. If Vick wants to stay healthy then he should trust McCoy more to get the job done and put the ball in his hands.
The perception of Vick as injury prone is completely accurate. The guy is pretty frail at 6’0’’ and 215 pounds.
Considering there are players like defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who is 6’5’’ and 278 pounds, who Vick plays twice a year, Vick should really reconsider taking guys like this head on, right? Well definitely, but this preseason, Vick hurt one of his hands (his own fault for throwing into his offensive lineman’s helmet) and his ribs (his offensive lineman’s fault for letting Vick get poster-ized to decorate the rooms all aspiring defensive players). While he was not injured in the Eagles’ first regular season game, Vick needs to be a significantly less risky runner or get better protection (from his O-line or armor). In an effort to become more protected, one of Vick’s sponsors, Unequal Technologies, created a new Kevlar flak jacket to protect him from being injured. This Kevlar vest is advertised as a lighter, thinner, bullet resistant vest that will protect Vick from being injured while not limiting his throwing motion. This Kevlar jacket is designed with at least two military grade elastomers to spread the energy from the shock around and reduce the damage that the individual takes. Rob Vito, CEO of Unequal Technologies and maker of Vick’s Kevlar vest, went a step further and guaranteed that Vick would not get hurt. Wait, What?
Putting the fact, that a vest covers your ribs and chest not your whole body, aside, did he really just guarantee that one of the most injury prone players will not get hurt this season? This might not have been the best guarantee to make for your company, Mr. Vito. But let’s analyze his statement. Mr. Vito said Vick would not get hurt with his bulletproof vest. Let’s assume (and it is a big assumption) that this vest will not impede his play and just analyze the fact that he will be wearing a bulletproof vest. While that sounds very safe, bullets are not 300-pound linemen or 260 pound linebackers on the defense. Do both carry a similar force?
For a quick example let’s take a look a .45 caliber ACP bullet. This type of bullet was invented in 1904 by John Browning and was eventually adopted for use by the US army in 1911. It is a standard type of bullet. It weights approximately 15 grams, travels at approximately 850 feet/second and produces about 500 Joules of energy and force. Seems pretty powerful, but let’s compare that force to the force a 200 pound defensive back, who runs a 4.56 second 40 yard dash can create. Players like this can produce up to 1600 pounds of force. This does not even account for the 300-pound plus defensive players, who are now a common stance in the NFL (since they would create a greater amount of force). Mike Vick might be able to take the force of a singular bullet, but compared to the energy and devastation of a defensive player’s hit on Vick, can Vito really claim that Vick will not get hurt from a greater force? While it is tough to render a complete judgment on this new age vest, I think it is still pretty tough to claim you’re your vest alone could account for the huge amount of force that a defensive player generates. (These numbers are subject to the accuracy of my physics abilities and math skills but for the most part have been verified from several sources.)
The Eagles play the 7th toughest schedule in the NFL this season. Vick has a very tough schedule for the first six games. The Eagles play the Browns, the Ravens, the Cardinals, the Giants, the Steelers and finish up with the Lions before going on their bye week. In total, the Eagles will play 8 teams that finished last season with at least 9 wins.
We also know that Vick did not break any ribs or other appendages after week 1. So when could this imminent disaster strike?
Final Verdict: I predict that Vick will get injured before the bye week (week 7) or he will not be injured significantly at all. While Vick’s vest might help, you will definitely get an answer before then. I think the weeks to watch for his injury are week 2 against the Ravens, week four against the Giants and week five against the Steelers, considering these defenses have some of the better (and bigger) defensive players in the league.
Side Note: While Vick was statistically terrible yesterday, throwing four interceptions, he still posted a respectable 19 fantasy points. His value to fantasy owners will definitely be based on his health. If he is healthy, even against the most stout pass defenses, Vick can still produce big numbers for his owners.