The Falcons were a topic on First and 10 this morning. I am a huge fan of the segment on First Take and I do commend Skip Bayless for sticking to his feelings, even when they are sometimes way off. The topic was which has had a more successful turnaround, Vick or the Falcons? I am going to try and give a nonbiased summary of each and I am curious to hear your thoughts on the topic.
The Background- We all remember what happened back when Michael Vick admitted to and was subsequently suspended for his role in a dogfighting ring. Served a prison sentence, came out and was mentored by Tony Dungy. Got a chance to start his career again with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Numbers- Vick has been on a huge high as of late. He started the season as a backup quarterback and has quickly established himself as a potential MVP candidate. He has completed 149 of 235 passes (63.4%) for 1,941 yards and 13 touchdowns with only one interception (passer rating 106.0). He has also run the ball 64 times for 419 yards and five touchdowns. He has eight fumbles, but only lost one. His game against the Redskins was record breaking. He has helped Philly become a contender in the NFC East where a struggling Cowboys team has opened up the way for the Eagles or Giants to host at least one playoff game.
The Summary- Vick did something that rarely happens (frankly, I can't think of another story like it). He was out of football for two years. He came back to the league as a third string QB with an outside shot of getting some playing time. After the trade of Donovan McNabb and the injury to Kevin Kolb, Vick was granted an opportunity to be the starter for his team. He took that opportunity and certainly made the most out of it. He is a defensive coordinator's nightmare and he has certainly begun to try and reclaim his title as the most electrifying player in the NFL.
The Atlanta Falcons:
The Background- 2004-Falcons go 11-5, win the division, get a first round bye, win in divisional round of the playoffs. 2005- Mediocre 8-8 season, failing to have back to back winning seasons. 2006- Teams goes 7-9, fires Jim Mora, Bobby Petrino hired. 2007- Michael Vick suspended, Joey Harrington starting quarterback, Bobby Petrino quits, team finishes 4-12. 2008- In comes Thomas Dmitroff, Mike Smith, Matt Ryan, Michael Turner.
The Numbers- Falcons go from an abysmal 4-12 season to finishing 11-5, clinch a wild card spot, and lose to the eventual NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals. The next year, the Falcons fight through injuries to Matt Ryan and Michael Turner and manage a 9-7 record, just missing out on the playoffs but finally getting two consecutive winning seasons together. This year, Falcons are 9-2, considered by ESPN.com to be the best team in football, and are a few key victories from clinching home field in the playoffs. Matt Ryan is 19-1 at home.
The Summary- The Falcons were as down as any team could possibly be. Their face of the franchise was in prison. Their coach had bailed when times got tough. Joey Harrington was the starting quarterback. However, under the leadership of Dmitroff and Smith, the Falcons reestablished themselves through the draft and free agent signings. They went from being one of the worst teams in the NFL, to becoming a potential title contender for years to come.
My Take: There is no doubt that Michael Vick has changed and become a much more successful player than he was before his time in prison. He has become exciting to watch, and I am happy to see him succeed. However, Michael Vick has always had the talent. It didn't disappear when he was in prison. For the Falcons, their talent did disappear. They lost their best player, they lost their coach. They started with nothing, and became a great team. Just my thoughts though. What are yours?