I have been a proponent of Michael Vick for years since he was an electric Redshirt Freshman leading Virginia Tech single handedly to the 2000 Sugar Bowl and putting them on the college football map. Though he lost to Florida State in a close battle, he established himself as a one in a million prospect at the QB position with a rocket arm and blazing foot speed. However after Vick was selected #1 Overall in the 2001 NFL Draft critics have knocked him by saying All he can do is run with his 4.2 speed, but he is not a QB, winning games from the pocket. By the way, what is a real QB? (That is a topic for later discussion). All I know is that Vick did deserve to be the 1st player taken in the 2001 Draft even though he was not a complete product and that he has shown he is a winner at the NFL level (Over 60% winning percentage w/ 2-2 playoff record including a big win at Lambeau in 2002).
Now he is on a mission in 2006 to prove the naysayers (Haters) that he is a legitimate NFL QB, who can do more than run outside the pocket. While everyone is paying attention to Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, Vick is having a tremendous MVP type season. The change in Vick must be attributed to the Falcons improved WR play and Falcons O-Coordinator Greg Knapp and QB Coach Bill Musgrave developing an offense that works to Vick’s strengths (RB’s pounding the ball, Quick Reads, Spreading the ball around, and Rollouts/Waggles). The coaching combo has also emphasized good mechanics, patience, and trusting his WR’s. While Vick still does run (about 8 times a game), he is throwing the ball with extreme confidence and also beating teams with intangibles (leadership, heady play, etc).
The transformation of Vick’s 2006 season started after a bad 27-14 loss to the Giants on Oct. 15, which Vick called his toughest setback: seven sacks, four fumbles and an interception as the Atlanta Falcons gave away an 11-point lead. After the game Vick voiced his displeasure saying that he could be a drop-back passer if given the opportunity and that changes needed to be made. He responded by leading the Falcons to two big wins over the Steelers and Bengals and passing for more than two touchdowns in a game for the first time in his career. He finished with 38-of-58 passing for 523 yards and seven touchdowns in the games.
He now knows how to setup his throws with the run and his passing numbers through 8 games don’t lie (55.1 Completion Percentage, 1362 yards, 11 TD’s, 7 Ints and 19 Completions of 20 yards or more). He has led the Falcons to a 5-3 record and let’s also not forget that he is running the ball at a QB record pace, which is what makes him rare and keeps D-Coordinators up at night (576 yards w/ 2 TD’s). Vick is on pace to break Chicago Bears’ QB Bobby Douglass’ 32-year-old record of 968 yards set in 1972, which was challenged by Randall Cunningham (942 yards) in 1990.
I am not saying that Vick will run away with the 2006 MVP award at season’s end or that he is a finished product, but you have to like the new dimension to his game. Through the first half of the season he has shown an ability to throw 25-plus times in a game while getting the ball out consistently, hitting his WR’s in stride, moving the chains, and most of all winning games. By making adjustments, he is my first half MVP and defenses now have to develop a brand new game-plan for the NFL’s most dangerous and rare QB.