Vick is unique - and wins

November 06, 2005|By KEN MURRAY | KEN MURRAY,SUN REPORTER

Michael Vick is one of the most dynamic forces in the NFL today, but at the same time he is one of its most perplexing.

How to define the Atlanta Falcons' five-year veteran is the dilemma. As a running quarterback, Vick is capable of changing a game with one breathtaking scramble. As a passer, he often misses the mark and generally receives low grades for accuracy.

Yet, if you go straight to the bottom line, Vick has won 30 of 46 career starts for the Falcons - including playoffs - with one tie. That's winning two games for every loss. Who can't accept that?

It has been suggested that the Falcons can't get to the Super Bowl with Vick's suspect passing. In last season's NFC Championship Game in frigid Philadelphia - a 27-10 loss to the Eagles - he completed just 11 of 24 passes (45.8 percent) for 136 yards.

But judging Vick strictly by his passing statistics is like judging winter solely on snowfall accumulation. There's a lot more to it than that.

"He puts so much pressure on the defense," said James Harris, who heads player personnel for the Jacksonville Jaguars. "You've got to scheme for him if you're going to try to keep him in the pocket."

The problem for Vick is that critics want him to fit the mold of a pocket passer when he really falls into another category altogether. With the NFL's No. 1 rushing game this season and last, he wins using a different formula.

"He doesn't have to be the same kind of quarterback the other guys are," Harris said. "People [playing against] him would like for him to become that kind of guy."

This is the kind of quarterback Vick is: He has rushed 49 times this season for an average gain of 6.2 yards. He has thrown 126 passes for a gain of 5.74 yards per attempt. Falcons coach Jim Mora encourages Vick to run and is cautious with the pass game.

Vick ranks 29th in the league with a completion percentage of 52.4. He is 30th in passer rating at 63.0.

In the run-first, West Coast scheme the Falcons use, Vick often makes some of his best throws on the run. His passes zip downfield with uncommon velocity. The team just doesn't have him throw very many deep balls.

The Falcons are tied for the second-fewest pass plays of 25 yards or more with five. Backup Matt Schaub had three of them in his only start when Vick was hurt.

Bottom line? Vick has won 16 of 21 starts over the past 1 1/2 years.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Vick said he doesn't try to capitalize on his celebrity status because it's not in his makeup.

"I'm a team guy," he said. "I understand the concept of winning and what it takes to win."

Harris thinks the Falcons can continue to win with Vick, and that Vick can get better as a passer.

"His style of play is different, and it is risky because of the opportunities you give other people to hit him on the move on blind angles," Harris said. "He's more at risk, but, no question you can win with the way he plays. I'd rather be with him than against him."

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