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.