One of the major storylines this NFL season is the continued Cowboys–Eagles battle, along with the 49ers, atop the NFC, with another pivotal game coming as Dallas takes on Philadelphia on Sunday night.
Another is the incredible success of 2023 NFL Draft No. 2 overall pick C.J. Stroud in his first year with the Houston Texans — and No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young’s difficulty thus far with the Carolina Panthers.
The “FOX NFL Kickoff” analyst joined Dave Helman on “The NFL on FOX Podcast” to discuss what it was like facing the Cowboys as a member of the Eagles and how impressed he is by Stroud, as well as the advice he would give Young amid his first-year struggles.
Check out what Vick had to say below!
Note: The following Q&A has been edited for brevity.
Dave Helman: Michael, you were part of several rivalries during your NFL career, but Dallas-Philly specifically from your time with the Eagles, what stands out to you about this rivalry when you think about it?
Michael Vick: It’s all the fanfare during the week. It’s the chatter among the fans that hypes it up more than anything. Of course, it’s an NFC East divisional rivalry, but it’s heightened by the fan bases on both sides. There’s a lot of Philadelphia Eagles fans out there, a lot of Dallas Cowboys fans out there. We always had a saying, ‘We don’t lose to Dallas.’ That’s the mindset coming in. It’s a mantra that we took on. I embraced it. I didn’t know anything about it until I got to Philadelphia, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I think I came out on top in those games, for the most part. I won a majority of them.
DH: I happened to look at your game log before we talked and you are correct about that. (Vick was 3-2 versus Dallas with the Eagles.) I’m curious — we so much about how players have to block out the noise from the fans, you can’t let that stuff affect you. But Philly is a crazy football town. With the emphasis that gets placed on this game, how hard was that to do for you? How hard might it be for the Eagles players this week?
MV: It’s tough playing for the Philadelphia Eagles, just in general. The demand and the appreciation that the fans have for the team at the same time, and the fact that it’s a flagship organization in the NFL, all of these things come into play. It’s added pressure, because if you don’t win, you’re gonna hear it on Monday, you’re gonna hear it on Friday, you’re gonna hear it on Tuesday, depending on when the game is and what happens.
And so we tried to always make sure that we were all on the same page. The preparation was always heightened throughout the week, and I always tried to make sure I was on my P’s and Q’s, and knew everything that the Dallas Cowboys were going to try to do when they had DeMarcus Ware, Orlando Scandrick and those guys. They had some good guys on that defense. They were always a tough opponent, and they always came to play.
DH: There’s lot of scrutiny on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts this week coming out off of that loss to San Francisco. Honestly, you look at his numbers, and to me the guy is still playing really well, for whatever criticism you want to throw at him. I’m curious, as a guy whose mobility helped him out so much during his career, if Jalen is uncomfortable, if he’s dealing with injury issues that are maybe limiting that mobility, how difficult do you think that is if he’s not completely comfortable playing the way he’s used to?
MV: It’s tough. I remember when I was a young player, had AC joint sprains, sprained fingers and all these little nagging injuries that as a dual threat quarterback you endure, but you know you’re not gonna feel as good in Week 3 as you did in Week 1 and in Week 12 as you did in Week 8. Injuries happen, we learn to play with them and not make excuses. It’s easy to go to the podium and say, ‘My shoulder’s hurt and I can’t really throw it away.’
I happened to catch a rerun of one of my games going to sleep last night. It was Atlanta Falcons versus the Minnesota Vikings, the game of my run. I was listening to Kenny Albert saying, “Mike has two AC joint sprains, one in each shoulder, a bad thumb, and all these things.” I’m watching myself fight through it for my teammates, and I would not make an excuse, or let anything deter me from playing in the football game. Regardless of the outcome, accountability was most important. Just to hear that little piece of commentary and understanding what was going on and know we fight through injuries and we find a way to make ourselves available.
DH: Let’s go to the early days of your career. You were the No. 1 overall pick by the Falcons (in 1999). What timing to talk to you right now when the number two overall pick, C.J. Stroud is doing what he’s doing. As a guy who lived in that spotlight and the pressure that comes with being brought in to change a franchise, I mean, what do you make of what CJ is doing with the Texans right now?
MV: First of all, man, it’s so hard to play quarterback as a rookie. Like, I couldn’t fathom what Stroud and Young are doing as the starter every week. I struggled as a rookie until around Week 16 because I really had no indication of what the NFL was with speed, the all the rhetoric, the communication, everything. I couldn’t do it. It was too much.
And watch these young men — I know some have more success than others — step on the field and get it done, it just goes to show that, especially with Stroud, he was evaluated the right way. Shout out to the Houston Texas for making this pick. Hopefully it entails longevity with a 15-18 year career for Stroud.
To watch him go out and do what he’s doing and play so calm and so poised. It’s a credit to, first off, the people who’ve been involved in his football upbringing. I think they did a great job of making sure he had the smarts and the wherewithal to get in and out of the huddle with everything that entails and find a way to move the chains. So extremely proud of him. I’m proud of all the young quarterbacks, even Bryce Young, who hasn’t had the best season by any stretch, but continues to go out and have the right attitude and learn, and that goes a long way. Year two, I have to expect more.
Obviously, everybody’s not the same. And so to see C.J. doing what he’s doing, we’ve got to take our hat off to him.
DH: I’m a firm believer in Bryce Young’s talent. I’m definitely not closing the book on him, especially given what’s going on there in Carolina. But would you have any advice for Bryce as a guy who’s been in that position? What would your advice be to a guy who’s trying to navigate being better at quarterback in the middle of all of that?
MV: Fight to get that next win. Getting wins and having success in the NFL, it just brings so much confidence. Once you get a little taste of it, just a snapshot of it you turn into a different player. You become a different quarterback in terms of your preparation. You’re thinking, ‘I want more of that, I want more of that.’ It’s like something that you’ve just got to have, it’s a necessity. You need this win on Sunday, Monday, Thursday.
So get that next win and as hard as it is, and as hard as it’s been, when Sunday’s over, and you turn that page, you’re on to the next chapter. Even though this is a 17-week book, and it’s filled with roller coasters and a lot of turbulence, you’ve been through worse. Bryce had a stellar college career at Alabama and didn’t face a lot of adversity, so this is good. We get to see what type of resolve he has.
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