Vick: 'I finally got my second chance'
While the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Drew Brees are usually the first to arrive at the facility and the last to leave, Vick had a bad habit of arriving late and then leaving early due to his, ahem, questionable off-the-field activity while a member of the Falcons.
Now given a second chance in Philadelphia to live up to his billing as the No. 1-overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft, and currently doing just that as the league's leading MVP candidate, Vick stopped short of calling his coaches in Atlanta – first Dan Reeves and then Jim Mora – enablers.
"It didn't have anything to do with the coaches," Vick said Wednesday via conference call at Halas Hall. "It was pretty much me. You have to have the desire to want to be great. Your coaches can only talk to you about it, inform you of things you can and can't do. It's up to you, at the end of the day, and basically I didn't take advantage of the time that I had and the opportunities that I had."
So when did the light come on for Vick? Was it when he pled guilty to federal charges stemming from his dog-fighting ring? Was it when he was released from Leavenworth after serving 20 months of a 23-month sentence? Was it when the Eagles traded away six-time Pro Bowl selection Donovan McNabb this offseason and put their faith in Kevin Kolb? What triggered him to start spending more time in the film room and less time in the champagne room?
"When I finally got my second chance to play," said Vick, refusing to elaborate.
Vick is 0-3 against the Bears in his career and hasn't played very well in any of those three contests, but it's safe to say the Vick coming to Soldier Field in Week 12 isn't the same Vick that Bears fans remember from previous encounters.
Reid: 'I don't see a lot of holes'
Additionally, as an offensive assistant coach in Green Bay from 1989-96, Reid knows Chicago almost as well as Philly's three bitter rivals in the NFC East: the Cowboys, Giants and Redskins.
According to Reid, the 2010 installment of the Midway Monster D is as good as it has been in the Lovie Smith regime, with a lot of the credit going to first-year defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.
"I don't see a lot of holes," said Reid. "That's what I don't see. There's a lot of continuity there. If you put Rod Marinelli together with Lovie, that's a pretty stinking good combination right there. Fundamentally, they're precise. They're hustling to the football. They're aggressive. They play zone and man well. I just think they are very good, and they have good players on that defense."
Despite the fact that the Eagles have featured a tremendous defense for the majority of his time in the City of Brotherly Love, Reid is still an offensive-minded coach and cognizant of a Soldier Field turf that could be a factor in slowing down Vick and Co.
"I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing," he said, "but I feel like I've played there a million times, not only with the Eagles but with Green Bay. It's a little soft, but what you lose in footing, when you land it's a good cushion, so you've got to look at the positive and the negative of it and make sure you keep your shoulders over your toes at all positions and make sure you've got a good base."
Both teams are tied atop their respective divisions, the Bears with the Packers and the Eagles with the Giants, plus the winner between these two 7-3 combatants will have a leg up on home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs behind 8-2 Atlanta.
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John Crist is the Publisher of BearReport.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
Conference Call: Vick, Reid
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