Michael Vick, according to head coach Andy Reid, will finish his career as an Eagles quarterback right where he started, low on the depth chart and with little expectation of moving up.
It is not official that Vick's tenure is over, but common sense and financial expediency - one of which is a specialty of the organization - indicate he will not be back for whatever fresh excitement the 2013 season might hold.
Vick, who suffered a concussion Nov. 11, has been cleared to play, but Reid said Nick Foles will remain the starting quarterback for the last two games. The coach could give Vick a farewell cameo in the final home game against Washington, but what would be the point? It isn't as if Vick would get a rousing send-off from his adoring fans.
So, that's how it ends. Reid's failure to distinguish between innovation and gimmick, which has been a recurring theme in his career here, is what brought Vick to town in the first place. The Wildcat offense turned out to be a blip on the screen instead of a game-changer, but Reid needed to get the newest version of the operating system, only to find it was outdated by the time he got it home.
After getting the job because of Kevin Kolb's concussion in 2010, Vick started 33 regular-season games, second behind only Donovan McNabb in Reid's tenure. He was 18-15 as a starter (with nine of the wins coming in the first 12 games) and paid the price for his high-risk approach with a long succession of injuries. If there is symmetry to losing the job because of a concussion, well, that's just the way the game works sometimes.
Vick gives way to Foles, who, if not the future, is much less the past. If he starts against Washington and New York, Foles will have surpassed Koy Detmer, Jeff Garcia and Vince Young on Reid's quarterback list; be tied for starts with Kolb, A.J. Feeley, and Mike McMahon (oy!); and trail only McNabb, Vick, and the nine starts of current quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson.
It doesn't take long to climb Reid's quarterback pyramid in the post-McNabb era, but it doesn't take long to get knocked off, either. If the coach stuck around, Foles would be no better than even-money to last through next season without being supplanted by the newest great idea.
Reid is fighting longer odds himself, of course, and it would be surprising if he is still making those decisions. There is a chance, but only if ownership believes ennui is better than temporary (or not so temporary) chaos within the organization. We'll see about that one pretty soon.
In the meantime, the end of the Vick experiment, coming so soon after the end of the Jim Washburn experiment, and the end of the Juan Castillo experiment, brings to mind Reid's maddening habit of thinking outside the box rather than looking in the box to see if the answer was there the whole time.
The overarching personality of the football organization is one that is too clever for its own good, and whether that is a trait that has seeped down from above or risen from the coach, it is really annoying.
There is a reason to have a reliable short-yardage running game for those situations that require it, just for instance. Instead, even in those seasons when Reid had a professional offensive line, he always preferred a shovel pass or an option or a Ronnie Brown lateral or, as was dialed up on Thursday night against Cincinnati, a play-action pass to the backup center (his name is Matt Tennant, although it is not necessary to commit that to memory), who was lined up in a tackle-eligible position on what was designed to look like a short-yardage run-blocking alignment. Amazingly enough, the play didn't work.
It was clever, though, and as someone once said, the Eagles always try to win the game on degree of difficulty. The same goes with Washburn's wide-nine gimmick, another operating system advance that turned out to have a few bugs in it. And the same with making the offensive line coach the defensive coordinator, and on and on.
Reid takes responsibility for everything, which is not quite the same as admitting he was wrong, but it is what he does. If you needed further proof the organization is content to hang all the dirty wash on the coach, consider the bleating protest of Junior GM Howie Roseman when it was reported (with excellent sourcing) that Roseman was the one who first lobbied Reid with the idea of hiring Washburn. It was as if you accused him of robbing a guy who just had brain surgery.
All the rats have indeed deserted the good ship Big Red by now, and he sails alone toward his horizon with a broken mast and a crew that keeps dropping the rigging overboard. So many good ideas gone bad.
One of those good ideas will be standing on the sideline with Reid these final two games, with a knit cap rather than a helmet protecting his head. That's how it ends here for Michael Vick, just another innovation who became just another gimmick.
Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie may both be back. E9.