Heard the Footsteps Special: Why Vick Should Never Be A Starter Ever Again

The Internet is a wonderful tool for the discovery of relevant and important news. In recent weeks Michel Vick has caught the attention of the news, and thus the Internet. Automatically, blogging sites latched onto the stories put out by the media, giving any fan with time on his or her hands the ability to get every opinionated angle possible on the Vick situation. I’ll readily admit that I find myself engrossed in those opinions on a daily basis. However, like any reasonable consumer, I know where to go for information and what places to avoid. Bleacher Report is one of those websites that I know to avoid but I also know has hidden (but easily discoverable) humor within its textual confines. When Imp, of Bleeding Green Nation, used a fanshot to link to one of the worst pieces ever written on the Eagles, I couldn’t help but take a peak. That’s the mistake I always make in these circumstances. It’s no question that I will either burst out laughing or get immediately incensed in the first few seconds after finishing anything written on Bleacher Report. Yet, I keep on going back because I see and link. I don’t know why but it’s like a morbid obsession with finding humor in, or ripping on, the Bleacher "Reports".

More after the jump...

Imp happened upon an article (and I use that word as loosely as possible) on Bleacher Report that discussed the five reasons why Vick should be the starter for the Eagles at quarterback. After looking at the first reasoning, I was not laughing – no, I was already annoyed with the writing. After finishing the slideshow, I began what I thought would be a simple couple of sentences in response. Rather than simply rip on the poor fellow who had written it, I spent the next four hours watching the Philadelphia Union play Toronto FC and writing a behemoth comment. That’s when I realized, enough is enough, and this Vick story has been beaten to death. It’s time for one of those "it’s finally over, here are all the facts laid out" articles. Hopefully my breakdown of the current day Vick, through statistical analysis and comparison along with research for some lost facts, will finally end the beating of a truly dead horse (too soon?).

Montana he is not

Vick has never been a true quarterback in the NFL. Even when he was electrifying the league and leading the Falcons to a couple of good seasons, he did it primarily with his feet. Vick’s statistics are indicative of this fact. People complain that McNabb was inaccurate in some parts of his game; well Vick never threw with a completion percentage of more than 56.4%. His career average is a whopping 53.7%. The main problem with such an abysmal completion percentage is that the Eagles run an offense based upon the West Coast Offense. A prototypical QB for the West Coast needs to be accurate due to the use of quick, short passes to supplement the running game. For coaches like Andy Reid, a short pass is sometimes the equivalent of a running play (hence why our worst down is 3rd and 3). In Atlanta, Vick was never a pocket passer. Rather, Vick used his feet to make most of his plays, forcing defenders to try to contain him and worry about him. McNabb only used his feet when absolutely necessary and as the years went along he developed into a pocket passer with good presence – something Vick most likely will never become.

In the small sampling of plays he was involved in during the past season and playoffs, he had little to no success. His only true successful play of the season came against the Cowboys in the playoffs. Yet the only reason that play even occurred, he threw a touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin, was because his pass was so late that Mike Jenkins got fooled out of his pants. If you watch the replay, Maclin was forced to slow down to almost pedestrian speeds to stay in time with Vick’s pass. It would have been much easier for everyone involved to have just thrown in front of Maclin, allowing him to just simply run forward without breaking stride. Maybe I’m just so used to McNabb’s ability to throw down the field but it appears that Vick was mightily inaccurate throughout his short splits during the season.

His career as a QB wasn’t much more appealing than this past season. He has thrown for 72 touchdowns and 52 interceptions, plus 11,591 yards in 8 seasons. That doesn’t sound great and it shouldn’t. Now, if we remove his rookie season in 2001, 2003 (injuries kept him to 5 games, 4 starts) and last season (not enough of a sample size/only Wildcat time), his stats read out: 65 touchdowns, 49 interceptions and 10,135 yards in 5 seasons. Now his stats look a bit better but are they event up to par? If we do the averages, that's 5 seasons, 13 touchdowns per season, 9.8 interceptions per season and 2,027 yards per season. Now remember, we are talking about Vick's career averages here, once again: 13 TDs, 9.8 INTs, 2,027 yards, 54% completion percentage. That’s not starting QB worthy.

As I mentioned previously, Vick’s feet were vital to the fame he achieved prior to his conviction and incarceration. If we're going to discuss his running, it has to be taken into account that he clearly is about two steps slower than he was prior to his conviction. He can't break away from players in the backfield as easily anymore, nor can he just simply weave in and out of the defense to win games. Last season he had his worst statistical running season of his career: 24 attempts, 95 yards, 4.0 average, 2 TDs. For his career he has scored 23 touchdowns via the run and has contributed 3,954 yards. That's no longer the type of player that Vick is. Vick was given designed runs and just couldn’t find his way out of the backfield in important situations. On more than one occasion, Vick was not able to beat linebackers or defensive linemen to the sideline and was stopped before he could pick up decent yards. This isn’t your Madden 2004 Vick anymore.

If we take his passing stats and add them to his rushing stats, here are his career and seasonal combined averages:

Total yards: 15,545

Average combined yards: 2,202.71

Total Touchdowns: 95

Average combined touchdowns: 13.57

Total turnovers: 79 (55 fumbles, luckily for Vick only 27 fumbles lost + 52 interceptions)

Average combined turnovers: 13.17

So his touchdowns:turnovers ratio is 13.57:13.17, or a +0.40 ratio for Vick.

Let's compare him to a very similar QB (and former Eagle), Randall Cunningham.

Total yards: 34,907

Average combined yards: 2,327.13

Total Touchdowns: 242

Average combined touchdowns: 16.13

Total turnovers: 239 (Unfortunately, fumbles lost versus recovered was not recorded for a good portion of Cunningham's career, so these are fumbles in total, not just fumbles lost)

Average combined turnovers: 15.93

Cunningham’s touchdowns:turnovers ratio is 16.13:15.93 which would mean that his career ratio is worse than Vick’s, with only +0.20.

But see, this is where Vick's stats really get hit hard. Take Vick's total fumbles (not just his fumbles lost) and recalculate his stats: Total turnovers: 52 interceptions+55 fumbles = 107. His turnovers combined average is an on par, 15.29. Vick's new ratio? 13.57:15.29, or a -1.72. As can be seen, Vick did not do his part offensively to make up for his turnovers, unlike Cunningham who still managed a positive ratio.

Let's keep digging. It's even more fair for the two QBs, based on injury (Cunningham had an injury plagued career) and usage (rookie seasons, specialist use) to go on a game-by-game basis.

Vick's per game stats:

86 games, 68 started

Total stats:

.83 TDs thrown per game (1.05 per start)

.60 INTs thrown per game (.76 per start)

.27 TDs rushed per game (.34 per start)

.64 FUMbles per game (.81 per start)

Combined stats:

1.0 TDs per game (1.40 per start)

1.24 Turnovers per game (1.57 per start)

Per game ratio- 1.0:1.24, Vick's ratio is -0.24. Great offensive help he is. Relative statistics tell a lot and I wish I could have some sort of WAR-like stat to throw in here to show how bad Vick is for an offense. Alas, a negative ratio is the best I can provide for now. But how does Vick compare game-by-game to Cunningham?


161 games, 135 started

Total stats:

1.28 TDs thrown per game (1.53 per start) - 207

.83 INTs thrown per game (1.02 per start) - 134

.22 TDs rushed per game (.26 per start) - 35

.65 FUMbles per game (.78 per start) - 105

Combined stats:

1.50 TDs per game (1.79 per start)

1.48 Turnovers per game (1.77 per start)

Per game ratio- 1.50:1.48, Cunningham had a +0.02 ratio. Cunningham had a positive effect on his team, more noticeable record wise, than Vick. Here's the best part - his offensive help around him was most likely worse than Vick's ever was in Atlanta. The one thing that Buddy Ryan's Eagles never had was offense, besides Cunningham. Ryan pretty much solely focused on his defenses. Try to name any weapons allotted to Cunningham during his heyday with the Eagles. Imagine Cunningham having an offense resembling something McNabb had and you’ll most likely picture an incredibly high scoring offense. He never had average WRs nor a solid offensive line. Because of the state of the offense, anything positive that Cunningham contributed was key to his team, much like Vick. The main difference is that Vick hurt his team by providing the opposing team more opportunities to score than he himself has scored.

Now how can I make it even worse for Vick? How about we just look at TDs:INTs (for the love of all that is holy, please tell me that this set of statistics is still accepted – I’m looking at you, batting average and plus/minus).

Vick- 72 TDs:52 INTs = +20

Per season- 10.28:7:43 = +2.85

Per game- 0.83:0.60 = +0.23

Per game started- 1.05:0.76 = +0.29

Cunningham- 207 TDs:134 INTs = +73

Per season- 12.17:7.88 = +4.29

Per game- 1.28:0.83 = +0.45

Per game started- 1.53:1.02 = +0.51

And who could leave out McNabb, who is rightfully the person to be compared to in any talk regarding Philly QBs.

McNabb- 216 TDs:100 INTs = +116 (11 season; 148 games, 142 started)

Per season- 19.64:9.09 = +10.55

Per game- 1.46:0.68 = +0.78

Per game started- 1.46:0.70 = +0.76

Vick doesn't even come close to the two QBs in history that he's comparable to (and both just so happen to have been long time Eagles QBs).

Redemption is earned, not given

Vick was convicted of crimes against dogs that affect emotions in nearly everyone. My heart was wrenched when the full details came out about how he and his associates brutally ended the lives of some of man’s best friends. The dog killings make it just that much harder for an average person, such as myself, to forgive and forget on the part of Vick.

To take just the time period of his release to today, Vick’s actions have still yet to warrant the ability to be redeemed. His association with co-defendants was outlined in his parole agreement, which basically states that he should stay as far away as possible from them. Somehow, Vick managed to push the lines of his parole agreement, as he came into contact with one of his co-defendants while at his 30th birthday party. Normally I wouldn’t have a problem with Vick because sometimes uninvited guests can’t be stopped. But Vick put himself in a position to fail by holding an "anyone-can-come-so-long-as-you-pay-$50-and-wear-white-to-my-party birthday" birthday party. It’s not smart for anyone in Vick’s position to be at something that he could potentially place him in direct contrast to his parole agreement and his contractual obligations to the Eagles.

On another note, I believe he still hasn't shown any proper remorse for his actions in the past. He's simply used the excuse of "it's part of my home neighborhood's culture". I will admit, Vick has been a positive for local Philadelphian animal rights organizations. His recognition and fame has helped to give those organizations a boost. That's not good enough. Until he owns up to what he did, verbally and with all the seriousness and honesty possible, any actions he takes to get his reputation back is meaningless.

Vick does not have the right to redeem himself, he needs to show that he deserves it

Leader? For who, for what?

His past criminal convictions make him unable to be a leader on a team that not only has some established leaders, but also a team that drafted 11 college team captains (out of 13 draft selections) in this year's NFL draft. There is no way that he can earn the respect of players as a leader on this team. Another reason why he can't: the Eagles have been trying to trade him for about 6 months now. Players on the team don't know if he, at any moment, will remain on the team for longer than this season. Remember, Vick's contract is up after this season and everything points to the Eagles not retaining him (Vick wants to start).

Vick wasn't even considered by the Falcons to be the leader of the team. The word "leader" was not mentioned once in the AP article on his release by the Falcons. Nor did General Manager Thomas Dimitroff mention the word "leader" in his interview with on the matter. The word "leader" was not once mentioned by the team in its official public statement on the release of Vick.

Looking past his status as a leader for the Falcons, Vick's actions off the field show that he (a) has yet to learn from his mistakes and (b) does not have the character to act as a leader, or mentor, to the players on the Philadelphia Eagles. Putting himself into situations where he could possibly not only break the terms of his re-acceptance of his league but also his parole is not what the Eagles, nor their players, want.

Vick cannot fill McNabb’s shoes

Here a couple of questions to ponder:

If Vick is good enough to start, then why hasn't a single team traded for Vick since he returned to the NFL via the Eagles?

Look at the list of teams that probably should acquire a better QB: why haven't any of them traded for Vick?

If Vick was good enough to start, he'd be taking first team snaps during OTAs and during Training camp and such. Guess who isn't and won't be?

Vick is clearly only on the team because he was paid a $1.5 million bonus and the Eagles are notorious for not wanting to admit they made a mistake. Statistically speaking, Vick's numbers are severely sub-par to any of McNabb's seasons. Not much more I can say about that. Because of such reasons, Vick is not a franchise QB. Vick was the face of the Falcons, I'll give you that, but he has never been seen as anything but an outstanding athlete and a poor QB.

In addition, if you believe that McNabb wasn't fully accepted by Eagles fans (most liked the guy, national media just spun the vocal minority out to be the majority), think about it this way: Vick will NEVER be accepted by Eagles fans. He's someone who is hated by people from all walks of life for his actions against dogs. I never want him to be the franchise QB, i.e. the face of the franchise. The Eagles will never let that happen. We’re talking about Jeff Lurie and Joe Banner here. The one thing they have been consistent with is there undying want to keep this team classy and filled with character. Vick lacks both qualities. It's been a wonder to pretty much every single non-casual Eagles fan as to why Vick was signed at all by the Eagles. If anything, Vick was signed as trade bait and absolutely nothing else.

Vick has not truly played any NFL level football in four years. Remember, he left the league after the 2006 season due to his conviction and last season he was barely used. Ignoring that, for his career he's a measly +10 win versus loss-wise. His career record is 38-28-1... Wow, just wow. Need I remind you that McNabb's record with the Eagles, including his rookie season, was 92-49-1 or a +43. He went to the NFC championship game once and was promptly dispatched by an Eagles team where Freddie Mitchell was the "star" WR. Remember, TO wasn't around for the playoffs leading up to the Superbowl. You can't use the "he didn't have much in Atlanta" argument. The fact is that McNabb really had nothing beyond a good line and Brian Westbrook prior to the Superbowl run. Yet, he put up impressive numbers, went to the playoffs and had good to great records for those years. Even during the lean, post Superbowl years, McNabb had stats that far surpassed those of Vick's best years. Terrance Small,Charles Johnson, LJ Smith, James Thrash... those names ring a bell?

As of today, Michael Vick has not met my requirements to be a starting QB in the NFL, let alone the Eagles starting QB. Has he met yours?