Thursday, September 23, 2010

Michael Vick's Chance For Success. This Time.

I have never been a Michael Vick fan.

I get that he is dynamic and exciting football player. He is fast, quick in the pocket. but to me he has always been overrated.

As a quarterback, passing the ball, he been abysmal. You would think with all that ability to buy time in the pocket, and defenses spending players having to spy on him, that he would find receivers open all the time. That hasn’t been the case. His career completion rating is a pathetic 54%, well behind some legends of the game, such as Joey Harrington and Gary Hogeboom. And it’s not something he ever got better at. His last full year in Atlanta, actually was his worst full season completion rating, at 52.6%. To show an example—Drew Brees, last year at over a 70% completion rating. Heck, Jason freaking Campbell last year had a 64%.

And yes, for all his marvelous abilities to run, Vick actually gets sacked more than most QBs. This year, despite missing 2 quarters of play, Vick leads the league with 10 sacks. In 2006, 2005 and 2004, he was ranked 6th, 4th and 2nd in the league respectively in getting sacked. In NFL career sack leaders, Vick is 169th out of 186, getting sacked 9.81 percent of times he drops back.

Now this isn’t a gang-up on Vick party (well, maybe it is a little), but the stats don’t lie. In 2004, Vick’s best year, when they made it to the NFC championship game, it wasn’t Vick who carried the team that far, but the opportunistic Falcons’ defense and their run game. That year, Atlanta’s offense was decidedly middle of the pack, ranking 16 of out 32. The passing offense was actually truly dreadful, ranking 30th in the NFL. Atlanta ranked 29th, with a 4.1 interception rating. That year, Vick had his higher QB rating, with a 78.1 rating, good for 20th in the league, behind Aaron Brooks and Billy Volek.

That year, despite a decent number 14 ranking in total defense, some others stand out. The Falcons led the league that year in sacks, with 48. They were 3rd best in the league in not giving up 1st downs by penalties. They were ninth in the league in rushing defense. They had 4 interceptions returned for TDs, 3rd best in the league. They led the league in rushing offense, with Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett combining for 17 rushing TDs. Dunn was also invaluable as a dump off option, with 10.1 yards per catch.

Now, we understand that these stats are only part of the story—that you can’t discount Vick’s rushing ability. And yes, he is dynamic as a rushing threat. But as Steve Young himself said, you scramble to buy enough time to pass the ball. A QB rushing for yards is the last resort. You win by passing the ball. Scrambling with your eyes downfield. And pass the ball Young did, and well. He has the 2nd highest career passer rating of all time. His pass completion rating is 6th all-time. His adj yards/pass attempt is 1st all-time.

In short, it’s great that Vick can run the ball for yards. But passing wins the game—and scrambling to throw the ball wins the game. Don’t believe me—name one running (Wildcat) QB that has won the Super Bowl. Answer: none. They have all been pocket QBs. Go down the list. Brees, Peyton, Eli, Roethlisberger, Brady. Etc. Some of those guys could scramble—but only to pass. None of them would ever be mistaken for sprinters. Some could even be considered statues.

The good news is that in 6 quarters this season, Vick has improved on most of the shortcomings I have mentioned. His completion percentage is way, way up to 63.8% and Vick has not thrown an interception yet. Vick still takes way too many sacks, getting downed a sickening 13.4 % of times he drops back this season, and has fumbled 2 and lost one of them. Still, Vick’s adj yards/pass attempt is 5th in the league.

Maybe Andy Reid is molding Vick into a quality pocket passer who can run when the need is absolutely there. Which, if done, would make Vick into the one of the most dangerous players to ever play the game. A quality passer who can fly like the wind. The Eagles would have found a veritable gem in the mud.

But that remains to be seen. Vick has only played 6 quarters—4 against the Lions and 2 against a team that wasn’t game planned for him. Let’s wait and see what he does the Steelers, Falcons, Jets or Ravens. Let’s see him with the game on the line against one of those teams.

I hope Vick can transform himself. It would make for an exhilarating player to watch. Until then, I remain skeptical, and not a believer.


blmeanie said...

I think you should define what "success" you are looking for?

The bashing of Vick is warranted and deserved for the stats you call out, no doubt.

Is success playing well enough to propel the Eagles into the postseason and win at least a game? Two? Superbowl?

He already is showing more patience in the pocket than he ever did in Atlanta. He admitted he never studied film or worked extra with teammates on timing etc. Just that alone would make him improved from the time in Atlanta.

His arm strength never has been a question, he possesses one of the strongest arms in the game and can release a 40 yd pass with a flick of his wrist. He never has had the touch to make it all come together. That is the film work and extra practicing deficiency IMO. Lots of drops from receivers over the years because of the high velocity (lack of touch) on most passes kill his stats too.

I think his high sack percentages are a result of his confidence in escaping pressure. While not making the reads properly often he likely is thinking pressure is coming but I can always get away from them...

2004 NFC title game he was very responsible in the playoffs for breaking off huge runs against a very good and very aggressive Packer defense in GB and the cold. Not too many QB's have won up there that time of the year.

I think you are a little early to be piling on and I suspect your audience will jump on the dogpile.

Back to my original question above, is success measured differently for him? Harsher? How many teams can you honestly evaluate and say for sure they would like to have him as a starter right now? 1,2,5,10 ?

I think he will be crapped on unless he wins a championship. Comparing him to Steve Young is convenient because they both ran well and both are left-handed. Young is a hall of fame caliber player. That's like comparing Eli to Peyton. Other than letting Elil carry his jock for him is there any reason to consider looking at their stat comparisons? They are in different classes of quarterbacks. So are Vick and Young. I agree he was overrated for a while, but aren't there plenty of players in all sports that are over hyped?

He seems to have his head on a little better since serving his time. Lets see what he does on the field. Maybe he will be better and be good but never great. I don't know. Let's see though.

blmeanie said...

my bad, 2004 was the loss to the Eagles in the conference finals, 2002 is when they beat Green Bay in Green Bay. Apologies.

P-Cat said...

No apologies necessary.

And yes, he does look like he's showing more patience. And he has all the talent in the world to be a devastating QB. Let's hop he puts them to use.

blmeanie said...

I know... I know...Jax is not very good either. But if Vick passed for 180 yds against Jax in a win the haters would be all over him. He stayed in the pocket again (more than ever in Atlanta) and made some sweet passes (at least from the highlights). Other than Washington they don't have any more on-paper patsies the rest of the way. Should be interesting where he stumbles (all QB's have off/bad games) and how the wolves come out for him. The fans here in Atlanta that hate Matt Ryan are loving Vick's "rise" and blame the franchise for giving up on him...They seem to forget the crimes he made and the lack of respect he had for the game and the team while here.