Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Can Run, Can't Pass = One Face of the NFL

I know that I will probably take some shots after this column…but I don’t care. I’m to the point where I need to get this one out. It’s like chewing on a big piece of Bubble Gum and blowing a huge bubble…it has to pop at some point. I’m not going to talk about the NFL’s MVP so far or the best coach…I’m writing about the most overrated player in all of sports: Michael Vick. The Atlanta Falcons quarterback is arguably the NFL’s most athletic player – but every week I read his stat line and I scratch my head, and then rub my eyes to make sure what I’m reading is true. He is just plain decent, and the marketing department of the NFL should be questioned for putting his face as one of the top players of today’s league.

When Vick left Virginia Tech after almost single-handedly bringing them to a National Title in 2000 people were saying that a star was on the horizon. The word was that he was going to change the way the quarterback position was played. His running ability and athleticism was going to change how defenses dealt with the ‘new age’ quarterbacks.

Vick can run like Darrell Green in his prime and has great moves, similar to a slashing-style running back. His passing however hasn’t gotten any better than his days as a Hokie. In fact, I would argue that he’s taken a step backwards in terms of his passing. We’ve all been waiting and expecting to see the kid that throws fastballs to become an effective passer…but it hasn’t happened.

I’ve seen enough of his games to know exactly what a good defensive coordinator coaching a good defense will do against him – use a fast linebacker or safety to spy him and take away the run because his passing is just too inaccurate, particularly in the pocket. He rolls out well because of his speed and can make things happen, but many times he doesn’t see guys that are open and even if he does he often misfires on his pass. But if a quarterback can’t make plays in the pocket on a consistent basis, defenses are just going to send the house and make sure the Falcons don’t run the ball. This means that Michael Vick is going to continue to take some hard hits. The hit that Eagles All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins laid on him in the 2002 playoffs is surely the hardest the young quarterback has had, but he has taken a lot of hits in his short career and will take more because he runs so much.

Vick has won more games than he’s lost as a starter. To date, Vick and the Falcons are 26-17-1 with him as the teams starting quarterback. His TD-to- INT numbers aren’t terrible, 44 TDs and 32 INTs. But I would argue that most of the Falcons success is because of their defense and running game with Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett. He’s thrown one touchdown per his 44 career starts. By comparison his cousin Aaron Brooks of the New Orleans Saints has thrown 114 touchdown passes in his 78 career starts.

Let’s also remember that Matt Schaub, Vick’s reliable backup, has the best game of the season at the quarterback position for the Falcons. On October 9th Vick sat out against the two-time defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. All Schaub did was throw for 298 yards (70 more than Vick’s season high) along with 3 touchdown passes (Vick has 2 TD’s twice). Dunn and Duckett ran for 83 and 30 yards respectively that game, so you can’t use the excuse that all they did was throw the ball.

Personally, I think he’s exciting to watch and can do some brilliant things on the field – but he’s average. I have a tough time having him crack the top ten at his position in the NFL.

If history shows us every year, the teams with a balanced running and passing attack are the teams that win the most. Vick running the football makes him a dangerous player. If he can overcome his passing struggles then he can still be one of the top quarterbacks, but until then, he’s just decent in my eyes…and on the stat sheet.


At 11/16/2005 3:21 PM, Anonymous Bird said...

It makes me sick every time some jackarse Jim Nantz announcer or Joe "that's disgusting!!" Buck claims Vick has changed the QB position. RC won two MVP's and ran for almost 980 yds in a season while still passing for 3,600. To praise Vick and to ignore the Ultimate Weapon - as if he wasn't doing the same thing 15 years ago really boils my britches. Gil, I'm sorry that I misunderstood your wing bowl email and thought that Meg was going to flash the city of philadelphia - I apologize.

At 11/17/2005 9:33 AM, Blogger rblake said...

Vick is average as best - If Vick was a NBA talent, he would be classified as a "Tweener" - He has incredible ability as a runner but is average at reading coverage’s and completing passes. This might not be completely fair assessment with arguably one of the worst receiving core over the past 5 years. Yes, Vick has Crumpler – But, TE’s have become a dump off for QB’s who can’t read coverage’s!!

What is completely ridiculous is the fact that Vick has a 200+ yard passing game and insinuates the following, “I proved my passing ability – so, you (the media & every football fan) can’t ever question his ability as a pure passer, AGAIN? Are you kidding? – To begin with, a 200+ passing game should be the minimum – maybe if you passed for 300+ for let’s say 6 games in one year. Please be aware that Gus Ferotte has had more 200+ games this year then Vick??? I think Vick makes a little more money than Gus????

Grow up - you big baby – Winning always silences critics – but, when you lose – people have the right to criticize, just ask – Brady, Donavan, and Ben. What till you lose in the playoffs……..the media is going to crucify your underdeveloped passing skills………

At 11/17/2005 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I concur with both 'bird' and rblake' and your story - Mike Vick isn't that good. ANd people, including myself forget about the great Randall Cunningham, he was the first Vick, and still better than Vick.

At 11/17/2005 10:01 AM, Blogger P V R said...

I can't stand Michael Vick or the city of Atlanta. While the guy has a gun for an arm, hid decision making ability is average as you state. He is fast as hell and does make so amazing things happen, but I think he will probably have a career ending injury before winning a superbowl. He puts himself in harm's way too often and that is going to catch up with him.

At 11/19/2005 10:20 AM, Blogger P V R said...

On another note, I learned how to spell in college, but must have lost that skill when I started eating pulled pork sandwiches.

At 11/22/2005 3:13 PM, Blogger SLBennington said...

Yeah, but don't tell me that the pulled pork wasn't worth it.

At 11/22/2005 7:21 PM, Blogger P V R said...

Me like pigg way to much too say that!


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