Michael Vick is the Bruce Lee of NFL QBs. He was revolutionary and a few years ahead of his time. Both cats had to deal with the trials, tribulations, novelty and skepticism of being first.
Vick was the crash test dummy for QBs who ran like Michael Johnson and threw like Goose Gossage. Lee is considered by UFC President Dana White to be “the father of Mixed Martial Arts,” which was seen as gimmicky by traditionalists. Similarly, Vick’s unprecedented speed and scrambling ability was called a flash- in-the pan freak show by some coaches and QB purists.
With the proliferation of today’s mobile QBs getting mega props and being allowed to freely rock, imagine if Michael Vick – The Originator – was drafted in 2011. He’d be what he was, times ten.
As awe-inspiring as the early millennium Vick was (his ability to break down a defense like Rafer “Skip to My Lou” Alston at the Rucker was stupid), his untamable style gave heart attacks to old school head coaches like Dan Reeves.
Vick’s dual-skills were a blessing and a curse. There was a constant battle within the Falcons organization and amongst the media to traditionalize Vick, making him less reliant on instinct and pure athleticism. The big debate in the ‘11 NFL draft would be Cam Newton vs. Vick for the No. 1 pick. The heightened hype surrounds two black QBs vying for the top spot, in the same season.
The anticipation leading up to the ’11 draft would have produced goose bumps, but also tensions and doubt in the war room. Vince Young was picked third by Tennessee in ’06, went bonkers and imploded. The Raiders made Jamarcus Russell the No. 1 pick in ’07. He flopped and proved every pre-‘70s stereotype about black QBs correct with his laziness, poor leadership and addiction to watching Lil Jon videos and sipping syzurp.
Some media mouths would undoubtedly have even suggested that Carolina and new HC Ron Rivera still take TCU’s Andy Dalton (as they did a few years ago), a purer pocket passer, with less skills and no baggage.
Let’s assume Cam would still go No.1 because of his National Championship pedigree, passing totals and size advantage coming out of Auburn. Virginia Tech sophomore Vick would have gone No. 2 to Denver, where his style wouldn’t read like braille. Buffalo’s D might be better off too, as the Bills surely would have drafted Von Miller instead of Marcell Dareus with the third pick.
During the regular season, Cam would post his same eye-boggling rookie numbers. Fans and media would be captivated and torn between Vick’s mighty mouse Houdini routines and Cam’s brash ruggedness, fleet-feet and abilities in the cut. We could see Carolina releasing a statement standing by Newton, saying that he is a mobile pocket passer with “a true NFL body, less susceptible to injury.” Vick, however, would have owned the NFL stage by January, in a similar fashion to how talk of the The Big Three rookie QBs faded to black as Kaepernick and the 49ers rose to playoff prominence.
Broncos OC Mike McCoy would gladly institute a read formation/pistol scheme for Vick, as he did with Tebow during their run to last season’s AFC Divisional game. If “Timmy No Throw” could take the Broncos deep, Vick could’ve dug up gold.
With an offense designed to maximize Vick’s skill set, combined with the NFL’s new sissy soft rules, Vick and Denver would devastate, creating highlight films for the ages. Talk about trying to catch an ant with a pair of tweezers. Vick would have eclipse 3,000 yards passing and 1,300 yards rushing out the gate. He’s still the only QB to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and that was when the Run–n-Shoot was still poppin’.
It can be argued that Vick’s funkdified ‘10-‘11 season in Philly – when he finally put it all together with completion percentages of 60 percent – opened the flood gates even further.
Imagine a young, healthy Vick dipping and throwing bombs to Demaryius Thomas? Willis McGahee would be racking up sick rushing totals, and John Fox would probably be rocking Super Bowl bling.
You’d assume John Elway would surround Vick with some better weapons than the undersized Warrick Dunn and Algee Crumpler he got by with in ATL. At the very least, the luxury of Vick might have inspired Fox to go for the gusto against the Ravens.
Just think, Cousin Troy and dem’ could be boiling up that pig this weekend, preparing for a watershed, Vick–Kaepernick Super Bowl on Sunday.
The early-millennium Mike Vick was a cultural phenomenon, before Facebook, Twitter and social media explosion. His jersey was the NFL’s hottest cops and kids didn’t want to be Brett Favre any more. Rolling out and flinging it like Vick was way doper. If Vick was drafted in ’11, he’d still be a novelty. His 4.25 speed (still the fastest ever recorded by a QB), reckless approach and rocket-launcher arm would have captivated America, lessening the impact of RG3, Wilson, and Luck a year later.
Conversely, it strengthens Allen Iverson’s cultural stranglehold on rebellious youth, as him and Vick were neck-and-neck in the category of “athletes kids love and parents hate.”
These days, folks tend to forget how nice Vick was wit’ it. The cloud of his off-field fiascos makes his ATL-stint seem like something that fans have to watch on grainy 8mm film.
With that in mind, it’s safe to assume that what we saw from Vick a decade ago, pales in comparison to what he’d deliver in ‘11. That’s a scary freaking thought.
It’s scary, yet totally feasible.
There would be no struggle with an OC that wants to reign in Vick’s “undisciplined” game and confine him to pocket mush. The flavor of the day would be in Vick’s favor, as coaches would have limitless plays for him and the unfathomable unorthodoxies of his style would be praised for its rare beauty.
People view Vick as a tragic figure, with Zeus-like football talent and Dwight Gooden results. Gooden hit the MLB set like a comet, but crack did him dirty. What if Vick studied QBing more diligently than the art of pit bull-massacres? The what-ifs will follow him around like a bad scent on a bum.
The biggest knock on Vick is that he never stamped his style of play as being champion official. In fact, publicly, Vick’s failures only served to boost the props of pocket cats with championship hardware like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Bees. Still, in the larger scheme of things, none of that lessens Vick’s indelible and legendary impact on the game. An impact that can’t be measured in Ws an Ls.
Vick is the bridge from the NFL’s QB past to the future.
Regardless of what Johnny-Come-Latelies accomplish, Vick changed the game, forcing the NFL to deal with a dude like him and altered the way defenses approach the game. The shifty signal callers of today are offspring’s of Vick. Sure, it would’ve been orgasmic to see a fresh- faced Vick in today’s NFL, but Bruce Lee isn’t seeing that MMA and UFC money, so don’t feel bad for Vick.
At least his pockets are solid and he was first up to bat. History won’t front on him in that regard.