Monday, March 24, 2014

Mike Vick, The Newest And Most Appropriate Jet

Nice and current, tabloids
Over the weekend, the NY Jets made a clearly correct football decision to swap out a hurt, inconsistent and turnover-prone young QB for a hurt, incon- sistent and turnover-prone older QB. But when you add in the names of Mark Sanchez and Mike Vick, it makes more sense.

(Oh, and tabloid headline writers... nice to see you really digging deep on this one. Could you try any less?)

Why is this actually a good move for NY? Well, because whatever Vick's failings as a QB -- and they are legion -- he's an outstanding teammate. Last year, he had a WR have a racist breakdown, worked with a new coach and offense, lost his job after performing fairly well due to injury, and never got back on the field... and didn't say a negative word to anyone. This comes at the end of a tumultuous 5-year run in which he more or less completely turned his life around after a prison stint, paid off all his debts, did extensive community service and never, not once, snapped at the protestors who refused to accept the possibility of rehabilitation and redemption.

If only, well, he were better at playing football.

As a back-up, Vick is one of the best in the league. He's been a star, still has game-changing wheels, stretches the defense with the arm strength, and has won big games, even in the playoffs. (Look it up: night game in Green Bay, tore Brett Favre up.) For a game or two, a quarter or two, flash plays where he bails out a half dozen teammates and confounds the defense with a first down, he looks like not just a good QB, but the best.

The fact that this is a mirage, and that inaccuracy and turnovers are sure to follow, especially when the field tightens up and defenses are more able to bring middle pressure, really isn't Vick's fault. Neither is the unacceptable injury history, the possibility that the concussions are borderline career-threatening, or that he isn't quite as quick as he thinks he is any more. He's doing the best he can; he's just too small, and didn't run into the right coaching situation until very late in life. (Seriously, if the man were an inch or two taller, able to execute a hook slide rather than engage the defender, and a decade younger, it wouldn't have mattered what Nick Foles did during his injury time. He'd had gotten the job back, and Chip Kelly would have coached him for years.)

A very good back up is, of course, the best QB the Jets have seen in forever, which makes him the most likely choice to start 2014 for NY. He doesn't really have the WRs (outside of Eric Decker, who is still going to be lucky to post half of his 2013 numbers in the downgrade from Peyton Manning), but the Jets are still going to have him handing off as much as humanly possible, and the defense isn't bad. In a weak division, in a year where he magically stays healthy and only commits about half of the number of turnovers that he did in Eagle Green, I could see him winning 8 to 10 games and threatening for a wild card, or maybe even the division. I could even see him being a useful mentor type to Geno Smith; Nick Foles said he was, and at least in Smith, Vick's a guy with similar skills.)

But there are two things that Vick can't do, especially at this stage of his career. First, he can't avoid turning the ball over, and second, he can't stay healthy. And neither of these things is going to change.

So he's not winning a Super Bowl, or giving you more than a good streak and some great highlights amidst the bad ones.

For a back-up, that's completely acceptable.

For a starter, that's the Jets.

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