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Just The Sports: A Revisionist History Lesson

Just The Sports

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Revisionist History Lesson

The more I watch Michael Vick struggle to become even an average NFL quarterback, the more I have to wonder what the Atlanta Falcons ever saw in Vick to warrant trading up to take him #1 in the 2001 draft and then basically handing him the keys to the franchise with a 10 year, $137 million contract with $37 million dollars of it guaranteed. I understand what the Falcons saw in him as a football player: someone who won the genetic lottery hands down in terms of speed and agility and someone who was going to complete revolutionalize the game of football. But as a quarterback, for all his skill, Vick's resume on entering the league was severly lacking.

Since Vick redshirted his freshman season and the NFL draft eligibilty rules stipulate a player's high school class only has to be three years removed from graduation before he can become eligible, he only played significant time in twenty-one contests. In those contests, Vick registered a completion percentage of 56.2% with an extremely high 9.8 yards per pass attempt. Of course, the high yards per pass attempt were more a result of Vick only being able to throw deep passes than anything else. High yards per pass attempt with a low completion percentage over a quarterback's career should always serve as a warning sign to a team shopping for a franchise player.

What is most shocking about Vick's college career and what no one should underestimate is that he threw only 356 pass attempts in games where he attempted the most passes or threw for the most yards, not nearly enough to classify anyone as anything approaching a professional quarterback. His NFL completion percentage, in seasons where he was the starting quarterback and did not get injured, of 54.6% (not far off from his college numbers) demonstrate that point well. There are numerous appropriate times and places to learn how to be a real quarterback; the NFL is not one of them.

Meanwhile, the Falcons have languishing on the bench someone in Matt Schaub who is quickly becoming my favorite type of college quarterback/potential NFL starter. This type is someone who has started a number of college football games, though Schaub did not start as many as I would have liked, and has accompanying this game experience a high career completion percentage, which Schaub does with a 67.3% completion percentage and who was not pushed into starting right away by his NFL team. Just to demonstrate how much more advanced Schaub was over Vick as a quarterback when he entered the NFL, Schaub had 397 pass attempts in his senior season alone.

The prudent thing for the Falcons franchise to do would be to move Vick from quarterback to running back or any other position where he can succeed as a football player, thereby allowing Matt Schaub to lead the Falcons. Vick is not a quarterback nor will he ever be one, regardless of what he might say himself of wanting to pass more or what Jim Mora, Jr. says about being confident in Vick's abilities. If the Falcons continue to stubbornly refuse to admit their mistakes in handling Michael Vick, they are going to continue to retard the ascension of the franchise into an elite football team.

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