Monday, August 17, 2009

More on Vick

***

I watched the 60 Minutes interview of Mike Vick. He certainly said all the right things. Let's hope those words are true and have meaning.

I want to again focus on the football side of his situation. Vick acknowledged his problems of the past that were football related. He owned up to being lazy with his work habits -- "last on in the building, first one out". Those were his words. This is a big step for Vick the player.

Talent can be overrated, whether football, golf, hockey, or skateboarding. You need someone to match their raw ability with focus, work ethic, and the right attitude. Michael Vick has more natural talent than any other QB in NFL history. Guys like Elway, McNair, McNabb, Steve Young, and even Brett Favre were all incredibly gifted players. They could run or throw. They had fast feet and strong arms. All of those guys had sustained success in the league. They all made it to the Super Bowl. Steve McNair came into the league as a raw player, but worked hard. He finished with more than 30,000 yards passing.

Vick has played in 74 career games. He has 71 TD passes. We know the Falcons didn't have a great set of receivers, but how much of that was due to Vick being the QB? Guys get tired of running routes and never having the ball come their way. They get sloppy and develop bad habits. Matt Ryan was a rookie last year. Suddenly Atlanta's WRs played well. The passing game was efficient. It was well run. Amazing how much better receivers look when they have a consistent QB at the helm.

Vick now seems to realize that he was an arrogant athlete. His attitude, shared by players of all sports around the globe, was always that he would make something happen. Why study film if you can just take off and create a big play? The problem with that thinking is that you can't always create the big play. It can work in the regular season, but not the playoffs. You must be able to move the ball in a conventional offense at critical junctures.

Eagles fans know this situation all too well because of Randall Cunningham. He was a dynamic player...except in the playoffs. Defenses put together special schemes and shut him down. Randall was so gifted that he just knew he could get the job done his way. But he never did. Randall wasn't like Vick in the criminal sense of things, but they were very alike in their approach to the game. Randall never changed his ways. Sure he had the great 1998 season, but that was still a lot of improvisation with Cris Carter, Jake Reed, Randy Moss, and Robert Smith.

Vick now gets a chance to change his football persona. Will he take advantage of it? He's off to a good start, but the hard part is keeping that up and making it a way of life. He's with the right team. The Eagles are methodical. Andy Reid believes in practice and repetition. He won't let Vick do things the old way. Mike will change or pack his bags and hit the bricks. Big Red's way or the highway...that's the choice.

ON THE FIELD

I remain somewhat confused about Vick's role on the team. Andy is adamant about him being a QB. That's fine, but it doesn't make total sense to me. If you strictly have Vick at QB he's going in the game for 4 to 5 snaps a game. At that point you have to wonder if he's worth all the trouble.

I hope Andy is just saying the QB bit to keep his real plans quiet. I still think that Vick's best value is if you can use him at QB, RB, and in the slot. His presence on the field will be distracting to defenders. Have him run, throw, and catch this year. That will keep defenses guessing. And with the explosive guys we have a moment of hesitation can lead to a big play.

Some people are focusing on Vick as a QB to challenge McNabb or take his place down the road. Vick isn't here for Donnie's job. That isn't the case. Vick is here to join the QB rotation and be part of some special packages.

I don't think Vick is part of any future plans. He's no spring chicken. He is 29 and with him spending 2 years in prison you don't know if he'll ever get back to being a starting QB. You can argue that Vick has some tread left on the tire because of his time in prison. That might be true, but his style of play also has to be considered. Check out these numbers:

McNabb --- 134 games played ... 322 sacks (2.4/game)... 536 carries

Vick --- 74 games played ... 187 sacks (2.5/game)... 529 carries


Look at those rushing totals. Vick took a lot of hits in a very short time. That kind of stuff can add up. RBs have a limited shelf life in the NFL because they take such a beating. That is why runners like Steve Young, Steve McNair, and Donovan got away from scrambling as they got older. Can Vick make that transition? That is a huge hurdle for him to deal with.

Whether Vick is a threat to AJ Feeley or Kevin Kolb...I don't know at this point. AJ was terrific vs the Pats. Kevin got hurt, but the team says all the right things. I'd like to see him play before really passing judgment.

TOYS

One other concern I have with Vick's addition is the toy factor. Big Red is a smart man and gifted coach, but he's too enamored with outsmarting the opponent. Football at its core is a violent, brutal game where one side wants to physically beat the other.

This has never been Andy's strong suit. He likes to come up with tricks, gadgets, and brilliant plays. Some work, some don't. The more toys Andy has the more likely he is to get creative. He now has McNabb, Westy, LeSean, DeSean, Maclin, and Vick. That is 6 versatile guys with good athletic ability. The possibilities are endless, unfortunately.

The Cardinals beat us last year in the NFC-CG. The go-ahead play was a short pass to a rookie RB who fought his way into the endzone. Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald are great WRs, but the Cards got the ball to their RB. Arizona out-physicaled us on that play. They did run a trick play earlier, but the point is that when you are in the Red Zone or at a critical juncture in the game you should go back to the basics.

OVERDOSE

I'd prefer not to talk this much about Vick since there is so much else of interest. I get questions about him and the 60 Minutes interview was somewhat of a big event. I won't be talking about Vick everyday. This will become a backburner subject for me sooner rather than later. I'm working on an Akeem Jordan post for later tonight or tomorrow.
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14 comments:

izzylangfan said...

The best way that Michael Vick can help the Eagles is in a trade. For $1.6 million this year Vick can be a third string quarterback where the Eagle teach him how to be a real pocket passer and use him a few times in gimmicks, wildcats, screens, end arrounds and such. However, those plays risk destroying the offensive rhythm and while they offer potential the Eagles do have a bunch of talent to work with already.

How about next year. Five million bucks for a third string quarterback and a few gimmick plays? I don't think so. A crash course in the Andy Reid school of quarterbacking, a few teams desperate for a real quarterback next year and a rehabilitated Michael Vick who could at least arguably be a real starting quarterback should lead to at least a first round draft pick if you allow the new team to negotiate a long term deal with Vick.

Tommy Lawlor said...

That is very true. I consider Vick as being here on a 1-year deal. There would have to be some crazy stuff happening for him to get $5M from us for 2010.

Stephen said...

The most interesting thing to me about the Vick situation is that in order to be active and on the field for wild cat stuff he'll have to be the backup quarterback for the game, so if Mcnabb goes down we're looking at Vick, not AJ or Kolb coming in. I'd imagine he's a lot more rusty as a passer than as an athlete so hopefully he's absorbing as much as he can.

kanin said...

I just want to say thank you for yet another insightful blog-post about the Eagles.

I could say a lot of good things about your writing and analysis but the best thing is that you show, unlike spuds and the messageboards, that all Eagles fans/media aren't idiots.

Thank you.

/r

Stephen said...

Man, poor Spuds always catches a bad wrap, I don't envy that mans job even if he does get to work around my favorite team 24/7.

Chris said...

My biggest concern about the Vick thing is that McNabb is extremely streaky...when he is on fire, we would do better leaving him in. When he is doing poorly and you put Vick in for a gadget play or two, how will he take McNabb react(Bmore part II)? Is McNabb a better receiver than our top 2-3 guys? Is he really someone at the WR position people worry about? I agree with you 100%...if our season comes down to trickery, how long can that run last? Is it so hard to just get your best 11 players on the field as often as possible doing what they do best?

orangecrush007 said...

The Eagles should get Matt Jones. He could run the Wildcat too! I can't believe other's aren't thinking of this.

Brad said...

Excellent post and can't wait to get back to more football related posts!

What type of chance do you see for Maclin overtaking Curtis at some point this season for starting WR. I understand he has a lot to learn coming from the spread, missing camp, being a rookie, all of that, but I think Maclin is going to be a real stud and would love to see him on the field quite a bit.

orangecrush007 said...

How many RBs will they keep? Any chance they keep 4 RBs and 1 FB?

Cliff said...

Matt Jones?

Pass. He FINALLY had a decent season in 2008, but still managed to get arrested not once, but twice.

How many distractions do you want on this roster? Over on the EMB fans have been clamoring about Jones for 3 years now. He is definitely not a Reid-guy. Vick showed remorse and Reid is taking a chance. Jones got caught with cocaine and pot, said sorry, then got arrested again for violating his probation.

Ian said...

Whats with the vick hate? I mean what if he doesn't wanna start and is fine with being that role player special weapon type guy? 5 mil a year for someone like that is peanuts, plus if he does other things on the field besides QB it makes it even more of a value to keep him. Anyways the next 2 years will be critical with everything 2 big contracts andy's and mcnabb's and vick's too :)

orangecrush007 said...

Go to youtube.com and look for the Matt Jones highlight real where they are playing "Here Comes the Boom" in the background. If you doubt he can run the Wildcat or you doubt his natural abilities after watching that then you should be in a wheel chair because life is moving too fast for you.

shlynch said...

Funny, I wrote a similar thing about the toy factor over at igglesblog and got killed for it. Very different audiences, I guess.

orangecrush007 said...
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