Is Michael Vick still a “coach killer?”
You may remember back in 2006 when Jim Mora Sr., former head coach of the New Orleans Saints, went on the radio to talk about Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick. His son Jim Mora Jr., was the head coach at the time and there were issues then surrounding Vick that didn’t involve one dog biting the head off of another.
Vick was given a $100+ million contract from the Falcons and owner Arthur Blank had his back big time. But, while Vick had jaw-dropping ability, his awful attitude and approach to the game combined with his poor decision making on the field, were a big problem. With Vick, you had a chance to win any given game. But, chances are, this was not the guy that was going to take you to the promised land.
So, when Mora Sr. was asked if Vick was a coach killer back in 2006, he said that he was. The Falcons had a three-game losing streak, with Vick completing less than 50% of his passes and throwing more INT’s than TD’s during that stretch. Things weren’t looking good.
But, let’s quickly define why he was considered a coach killer. Basically, he was/is a guy, who is so immensely talented, but that you just can’t win with him. From management’s perspective, he is selling out your stadium left and right. The fans love him. They can’t get enough of him. He’s a marketer’s dream. Everyone is enamored with this player. He is making you tons of money. But, at the end of the day, he just doesn’t win enough. His style won’t allow it. And front office brass keeps thinking they need to find the right coach to come in and show this superhuman how to play football the right way, even if it’s not possible. Hence: Coach killer.
So then, of course, came the offseason and the dogfighting stuff for Vick. Which we’re all well aware of and he plead guilty and did a bunch of prison time then landed with the Philadelphia Eagles and blah blah blah.
He took over for an injured Kevin Kolb (thank god) in 2010 as the full time starter after doing a bunch of BS spot work in 2009 that was ridiculous. And during that 2010 season, he had a run that can only be considered magical. There was a stretch of about eight games where I can honestly say I’ve never seen the QB position played that well. His rifle passes were insanely accurate and he could still kill you with scrambling and broken-play runs. It was truly amazing.
But, it didn’t last. He ended 2010 struggling against the blitz and making one read and then taking off. He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t the same guy we had seen previously playing at a level that maybe even the Falcons couldn’t have predicted when they traded up to make him the No. 1-overall player selected in the 2001 draft.
In 2011, the Philadelphia Eagles were staring down the barrel of the final year of his contract. He could either play with the franchise tag (they sure as hell weren’t sticking with Kolb. Thanks, Arizona), or get an extension. The Eagles chose the latter and signed him to another $100 million contract (even if some of it is typical NFL nonsense when talking about total value. But, you get the point.).
And in 2011, Vick regressed quite considerably. Maybe the Eagles didn’t expect him to play like the super stud that he was for much of the 2010 season, but they didn’t expect him to revert to full-on Atlanta days either. What they got this season was somewhere in between. But, it was closer to Atlanta Vick than 2010 Vick.
So then, the question still remains: Is Michael Vick a coach killer? Is he still someone that you just have to have out there due to his play-making ability, yet won’t win you anything in the end? And with Andy Reid’s record with quarterbacks and how well he gets them to perform, is it safe to say that this is as good as it gets? Vick’s goal after prison was to prove everyone wrong and to show people that he could come back from being incarcerated for about two years. Hasn’t he already technically done that? Is it possible that he’s content to collect his check at this point?
***** (I don’t really know what this means, but I see this crap inserted into lengthy articles in major magazines all the time)
After a huge free-agent spending spree this offseason (you know the names, Nnamdi, Babin, Jenkins, Brown, Young, Smith, etc), the Eagles were saddled with championship aspirations. And look, they were highly thought of regardless of what that Tyler Perry character Vince Young said about the “Dream Team.” Forget all of that. The bottom line is that everyone in the 215 area code thought that this team would win 11 games at a very minimum.
That is, until the season actually started and we got a whiff of the on-field product. The team ended up having to win its final four games against a slew of terrible quarterbacks just to get to 8-8.
And there were many reasons for the Eagles demise this season. But, the top two main reasons were Juan Castillo’s woefully deficient defense and the turnovers. Many of those turnovers had Michael Vick’s fingerprints all over them. He was intercepted 14 times and fumbled three more times. Some of those fumbles were the direct result of him being careless while running with the football (something he should be comfortable with by now).
Vick threw for 3,303 yards this season despite missing a few games with injury. He also had 18 touchdown passes and ran for another. But, let’s be clear, 3,000 yards is no more a bench mark for quarterbacks these days as 1,000 yards is for running backs or receivers. It’s a 16-game season in an offense-driven league. These aren’t the marks of a great season anymore. It’s not the early seventies and Dave Hampton isn’t killing himself to get 1,000 yards rushing anymore. Drew Brees shattered Dan Marino’s single-season passing record this year. Tom Brady beat it too. Drew Stafford had 5,000+ yards passing as well. And hell, Aaron Rodgers could have too if he didn’t sit out Week 17.
And, even if Vick didn’t miss those few games, he would have likely had a TD total in the low 20′s, with his INT’s rising too. We don’t know for sure, I’m just guessing. Regardless, these aren’t the stats of a franchise QB.
But, the truth is, he should be held responsible for missing those games anyway. You can’t blame players for getting hurt, but somehow you can blame Vick when he does. Do you know that the only time that Vick has played a full 16-game season was in that 2006 season when Jim Mora Sr. made his “coach killer” comment? That’s the only time? You’re supposed to rely on this guy? It’s not just that he’s injury prone, it’s that he does nothing to help himself stay healthy on the field.
He doesn’t slide at all and it’s maddening. It’s not just that he doesn’t slide, it’s that he says he can’t slide. That he doesn’t know how. The Falcons had brought in former Atlanta Brave Terry Pendleton to help him slide and apparently that didn’t work. I, for one, am not buying that raft of crap at all. You’re going to tell me that one of the most amazing athletes on the planet can’t do something athletically that Drew Bledsoe could? Puh-lease. It’s absolute nonsense and it’s a major flaw in his game because you just cannot count on this guy for a full slate of games.
It’s easy to look at the Eagles season and point the finger at Juan Castillo and his lousy defense as the main culprit in their horrific 8-8 season (he gets a heavy dose of blame from me). He was the Peter Principle personified and it would be a crime against humanity for Andy Reid to keep him around another season.
However, let’s go back to those turnovers and the role they played. The Eagles committed 36 turnovers this year. 36! 2.25 a game! Without looking it up, I find it tough to believe that you’re going to find too many Super Bowl winners with that many turnovers. You simply can’t win in the NFL doing that. Plain and simple. And you could probably go back and look and take away a couple Vick interceptions and this team makes the playoffs. Not to put the whole season on him, but when you are paid this kind of money to QB a team, you’re going to shoulder the brunt of the blame. Donovan did, Vick can too.
If it wasn’t for the final four-game win streak against future Hall of Famers such as Matt Moore/J.P. Losman, Mark Sanchez, Stephen McGee and Rex Grossman, there is a good chance that Reid would be gone. And the organization’s commitment to an undisciplined turnover machine like Vick would have to be a big reason.
After seeing Vick’s rocket-ship development as a quarterback in 2010 under Reid, we all thought that his Atlanta days were in the past. But, he reverted to those days relatively quickly in 2011 and was back to his old ways of not going through all of his progressions, turning the ball over too much, and getting hurt. Wonderful.
So, was Jim Mora right? Is Vick still nothing more than a coach killer? A guy who’s athletic gifts command tons of money, but will ultimately sink the whole ship with injuries, inconsistency and mental mistakes? I guess we’ll have to ask Andy after the 2012 season, which will be his last if Vick plays like he did in 2011.