Vick Shining in Philly
Former No. 1 overall pick has resurrected his career
By: Mitch Light | 9/30/10, 5:10 PM EDT
By Charean Williams
Michael Vick has been better this season. He’s also been better than good.
In his career before this season, Vick had a 38–28–1 record, a 53.7 completion percentage, a 75.9 passer rating and averaged 6.7 yards per attempt.
This season, he is 2–0 as a starter, with a passer rating of 110.2, a completion percentage of 60.7, and he is averaging 8.4 yards per attempt. He has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions.
Expected to be Kevin Kolb’s backup this season, Vick is starring.
“I always knew I could play better,” Vick said. “My decision-making has gotten better. I’m more in control of the offense. As the weeks go on, you get... more in sync. I felt good in the past throwing the football, but we throw more here so you get into a rhythm a little quicker. [My hot start is] kind of surprising, but at the same time, I always believed in myself and my abilities. I know what I can do if given the opportunity."
The Eagles traded Donovan McNabb to Washington in the offseason and handed Kolb the starting job. But Kolb suffered a concussion in the season opener, giving Vick his long-awaited second chance.
McNabb returns to Philadelphia on Sunday to play Vick, whom he mentored last season.
“The Lord works in mysterious ways,” Vick said. “It’s crazy the way things happen. Sometimes things fall into place. I think everything happens for a reason. Everything I [saw] Don doing [last year] I tried to emulate. It was great playing with Donovan. Everything Andy [Reid] tells me to do, I do. I see how it’s paid off for Donovan and that’s why he’s been so successful. I want the same thing.”
Johnson making good
Derrick Johnson has made good on his second chance.
The Kansas City Chiefs linebacker was the subject of trade rumors last year when he got into Todd Haley’s doghouse. But Johnson worked his way out of it — literally — and now is starting again.
He has 25 tackles and a forced fumble for the undefeated Chiefs.
“[Starting] means a lot to me,” Johnson said in a telephone interview. “I have a lot of goals — team goals and personal goals — and one of those goals that I had to put on my list that I usually don’t is starting. I put on my list to work hard and to get that starting spot, and I got it. Now, I’m just trying to be a consistent player week in and week out and help this team win games. That’s the main thing: If I can help this team win games, then I’ve done my job.”
The Chiefs, then coached by Dick Vermeil, made the former University of Texas standout the 15th overall draft choice in 2005. Herman Edwards moved Johnson from outside linebacker to inside linebacker in 2008, hoping for more productivity.
Last season, Johnson wasn’t consistent enough for Haley and was benched. He started only three games and was inactive for one. When he did play, Johnson played mostly on passing downs.
Johnson, who started 58 of 59 games in his first four seasons, had taken starting for granted until he wasn’t.
“It was tough. It was real tough,” Johnson said. “I think I handled it really well. I was strong-minded the whole time. It actually developed me into a better person on and off the field, having gone through it.
“I’ve always started my whole life, going back to Pee Wee. Not starting was just uncomfortable; it was probably a little inconvenient for me. In life, you’ve got to take situations and make it positive. Even though I still wanted to play last year, I’m a much stronger player this year because of it. Everything’s worked out for the good.”
Johnson returned two interceptions for touchdowns in a season-ending victory over the Broncos, and then won a starting job over Demorrio Williams in training camp.
Johnson, 27, said he is in his “prime right now” and more prepared than ever to prove the Chiefs right about him. He has “Pro Bowl” on his to-do list for this season.
• Since the NFL went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, only three of the 103 teams that started 0–3 rebounded to make the playoffs. Those teams were the 1992 Chargers, the ’95 Lions and the ’98 Bills.
• Derek Anderson has targeted Larry Fitzgerald 34 times this season. Yet, Fitzgerald has only 12 catches.
• Texans running back Arian Foster has three 100-yard games in his four career starts. He has 456 yards this season.
• Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown 20 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 18 career road games. His passer rating is 77.6.
• The Patriots are 2–7 in their past nine road games.
• The Jets’ original plan was to make Shonn Greene the lead back and work LaDainian Tomlinson into the rotation. But through three games, Tomlinson has 46 touches and Greene 32. The simple explanation is Tomlinson has done more with his chances. He is averaging 5.6 yards per carry, which is higher than his career best for a season, while Greene is averaging 3.5 yards per carry and has lost a fumble.
• Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is 16–4 indoors.
• The Ravens led the NFL in fewest yards per carry last season. This season, they are allowing an average of 127.7 rushing yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry. They have allowed four runs of 20-plus yards.
• Anquan Boldin has instantly bonded with Joe Flacco in Baltimore. Boldin, acquired from the Cardinals in the off-season, has 13 more catches than any other Ravens receiver. He has become the fastest receiver in NFL history to reach 600 career catches, doing so in 98 games.
• A combined eight kickoff and punts have been returned for touchdowns this season. The Chargers have allowed three of those.
• Bills receiver Lee Evans has gone 24 games without a 100-yard receiving game. His highest yardage total in that 24-game stretch was the 80 yards he had in a 2008 game against the 49ers.
• Bears cornerback Charles Tillman has forced 22 fumbles in 101 NFL games.
• Cedric Benson has had 25 or more carries in nine games with the Bengals. Cincinnati has won all nine games. Marvin Lewis’ teams are 29–1 when he has a back carry it 25 or more times.
• Steelers receiver Hines Ward has caught a pass in 181 consecutive games, fifth on the all-time list. He is two behind Art Monk. Ward could reach No. 2 this season by passing Terrell Owens, whose streak ended at 185 last season, and Marvin Harrison (190). Jerry Rice holds the record at 274 games.
• Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton has passed for 1,078 yards, the fifth-highest total to start a season since 1960 through three weeks. Only Kurt Warner (1,221, 2000), Drew Bledsoe (1,166, 1994), Frank Tripucka (1,098, 1962) and Peyton Manning (1,080, 2000) had more.
• The Packers are 8–5 in the month of October since 2006, including a 4–3 record at home. Green Bay has five October games this season.
• The Texans are 8–4 in their past 12 road games, including 6–3 since the start of last season. They won at Washington in their only road game this season.
• The Raiders are on pace for 176 penalties for 1,547 yards, which would shatter all existing NFL penalty records.
• Charlie Batch is 4–1 as a starter with the Steelers since arriving as a backup in 2002. His only loss was to the Ravens in 2008.
• Bucs cornerback Aqib Talib, who was suspended for the season opener for violating the NFL’s conduct policy, has two interceptions this season but has allowed two touchdowns.
• Under Norv Turner, the Chargers are 6–8 in September and 27–10 in all subsequent months in the regular season.
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