Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How much will Vick improve? Only time will tell

       Michael Vick still has much game left in him. The only question now is how much will he improve?
       Time will tell.
       This past season, Vick finally played up to his considerable potential – as a pro quarterback – for the first time in his career. That’s a scary thought, especially when you look back at his time with the Atlanta Falcons. In those days, he had a run-first mentality which thrilled fans everywhere, but it also severely hampered his growth as a top-flight passer. And yet, in spite of that, Vick was the catalyst for a strong playoff run, which ended when the Falcons lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2005 NFC championship game.
       These days there’s a new Michael Vick. He’s more interested in finding an open receiver. Running has become more of a second option in his arsenal.
       After doing prison time for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring, Vick made the most of his second chance and emerged as the marquee player for the Eagles in 2010. Thanks to Vick’s resurgence, Philadelphia thrived and won the NFL’s East Division. Vick’s handiwork didn’t go unnoticed as evidenced by him being voted NFL Comeback Player of the Year and his selection to the Pro Bowl. Also keep in mind that had it not been for Patriots QB Tom Brady, Vick would have been the league MVP.
       There are two areas that Vick needs to work on – maximizing patience and minimizing recklessness.
        If he improves in these areas, he could be close to unstoppable regardless of how good the opposing defense is. To do so, however, he'll need to make some adjustments. Below are a couple of examples from this past season of his shortcomings. That's not a bad thing, these are issues which are correctable.

  • Packers/Eagles in NFC playoffs: Vick had the Eagles in position to beat the Packers in the closing minutes. He admitted to being greedy and went for the home run throw, which turned out to be a game-ending interception in the end zone. Since it was a first down play, there was no need to risk a pick. Then too, had the pass been thrown in a location where only his guy could get it, that would have been even better.
  • Eagles/Redskins (regular season): Vick is nimble, Vick is quick, but he’s not a bulldozing fullback. He found this out the hard way on a scramble when he got sandwich-tackled and suffered injured ribs, which caused him to be sidelined for several games. This never should’ve happened. The NFL provides a luxury for Vick and his QB contemporaries. League rules allow quarterbacks to slide feet-first so that defenders cannot lay a hit on them. Had Vick gone into a slide, he gets his yards, avoids punishment, and he stays healthy. 
       For what it’s worth, here’s my message to Michael Vick.
       You’re too valuable a commodity to stand around on the sidelines.  When the time comes for you to jet out of the pocket, pretend you’re Rickey Henderson running the bases. Be prepared to slide when you’ve gone as far as you can go. You know as well as anybody that your offensive line must do a better job of protecting you. And of course, everybody knows that you still have the giddy-up to run a 4.2 or 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That doesn’t make you Superman.
       All quarterbacks need protection. You are no exception.

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