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Sports Then and Now

It’s Time to Pull Back the Reins on the Mike Vick Hype and Face Reality

Posted on July 28, 2009 by Alex Johnson

It is time for the Michael Vick hype to end.

It is time for the Michael Vick hype to end.

This may be a controversial piece, but I want to make it known I have nothing against Vick getting a second chance and being allowed to play in the NFL right away.

As Michael Vick is now a free man and with the news of his conditional reinstatement into the NFL on Monday, the hype has begun.

The questions surrounding Vick are not whether he will play but when, and where will he play?

But for me, I have a different take.

I watched Vick play with Atlanta and, like everyone else, I loved the excitement he brought to the field.  I loved watching him run around, break tackles, and score touchdowns.  Vick was by far the most exciting player in the NFL for many years.

But now, after spending 23 months in federal prison and having gone 2 1/2 years without taking an NFL snap, can we realistically expect Vick to be successful as a quarterback?

I’m sure he’s still fast, but how fast?  Is it realistic to think he’s still got 4.3 speed?  I don’t think so.

What about the speed of the game?  It’s going to take quite a while for Vick to get readjusted to the speed of the game, making quick decisions, and getting timing with receivers.

Will he still have that deadly arm strength?

What about other necessary quarterback skills like accuracy and pocket presence?

The fans and media are acting like this guy is the savior. They’re talking like he’s going to come in right away as the starting quarterback and lead his team to the Super Bowl.

Get realistic, folks.  This guy is no Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or even Brett Favre at 40 years old.

Let’s take a step back and remind ourselves of Vick’s quarterback career before his legal troubles.

Vick has a career 53.8 completion percentage.  Far from elite.

His highest pass touchdown total in six NFL seasons is 20.  Again, far from elite.

Because of his lack of quick decision making and his constant running around, Vick was always among the most sacked quarterbacks in the league.

Vick’s career yards-per-attempt percentage is a mere 6.7 yards.

As far as passing yardage goes, Vick has never reached 3,000 yards and has only come close once.  The “elite” quarterbacks, among whom many people seem to be considering Vick, reach 4,000 yards consistently.

I think we’ve made the point clear.  Vick is not an elite quarterback.  He never has been, and never will be.

I understand Vick is not your prototypical drop-back quarterback, but to play the position and win consistently, you need the skills to stay in the pocket and throw when necessary.

Now when you consider he hasn’t played NFL football since 2006, you’ve got to wonder if he’s really better than all the quarterbacks he’s perceived as being better than.

Some people are thinking maybe he’ll start off as a guy who will just be in specific packages.  Perhaps he’ll run the newest trend, the “Wildcat” offense.

With that talk, you’ve got a more realistic argument.  But you’ve also got to remember as a Falcon he fumbled 55 times in 74 career games, and 36 times in his last 46 games.

What about his durability?  He’s only played a full 16 games just once in his career.

I have nothing against Vick returning to the NFL; I’m a full believer in second chances.

But the point is, don’t get sucked in by the hype.  Vick is not the savior, and he’s not going to be an elite quarterback.  He’ll be able to help many teams, but only if he’s used in the right ways.

Despite this argument, I am excited to see where he lands and how he does.

Let your arguments begin!

Alex Johnson covers the NFL for Sports Then and Now.

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