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Of Vick: Ignore the Rushing For Now

Sunday's game against Pittsburgh was a triumph for Michael Vick. After an HBO interview in which he put on his busdriver hat, put the bus in drive, threw his entire receiving corps under it, and then drove over them, Vick went out and used that same collection of dubs to pick up a 4 TD day. It was such a warm and fuzzy story that ESPN's Michael Smith devoted a whole article to it. Vick also got big props from Gregg Easterbrook from Tuesday Morning Quarterback, and he's actually ranked 12th in the weekly QB ratings. Let's take a look at Vick's season line, courtesy of (grey box for highlighting purposes):

Michael Vick Att 147 Comp 77  Yds908 Comp%52.4 TDs7 INTs5 RTG 73.2

The important numbers here: Vick has completed only 52.4% of his passes. He has 7 TDs against 5 interceptions. His overall passer rating is a decidedly mediocre 73.2. I'm well aware that Vick makes things happen with his feet, and I'm willing to accept that these numbers are basically a part of Vick's package. He brings many dimensions to the table, it's true. But those are not numbers for a 12th rated QB, no matter how well he runs. Compare those numbers to the QB twelve spots lower than him at #24, Byron Leftwich of the Jags:

Att 183 Comp 108 Comp% 59.0 TD 7 INT 5 RTG 79.0

Leftwich has completed 59% of his passes, has the same TD/INT ratio as Vick, and his rating is about 6 points higher. The only sizeable difference is in completion percentage, and yet Leftwich is 12 spots lower, according to Gary Horton. What gives?

What gives here is that Vick, working with a receiving corps only slightly less talented than the Jaguars', is wondering to HBO what it would be like to have an elite receiver to throw to. Everyone from experts to my uncle complain that Vick is overrated, yet the instant he has one good game, everyone's tripping all over themselves to priase him. If Leftwich had a similar game, I can guarantee you he wouldn't get the same coverage and accolades, and the reason is simple: Leftwich is not as exciting. He can't break off huge sprints, he can't get things done out of the pocket, and he can't sell Nike like Vick can. And right now, I don't care about those things. I want to talk about Vick the passer.

Let me tell you something, Vick, and I'll say it because I really love your talent and what you've done for this team: an elite receiver would not make that big a difference to you. You already have an elite tight end in Alge Crumpler, and not even Marvin Harrison as Mr. Fantastic can rope in some of the off target throws you make. When you decide to tuck that ball in and gallop off to the races, Terrell Owens would be basically useless to you. Can I understand your frustration when your passes are dropped or somebody screws up their route and ends up in Flowery Branch? Yes. I'll be the first to defend you when those things happen, believe me. But you need to improve, too.

Come back a month from now with improved accuracy and more days like you had on Sunday and I'll be perfectly willing to listen. If Oven Mitts handles another TD pass like a flaming Christmas ham, I'll listen. If you hit Roddy White in the chest and he practically throws it to a cornerback, I'll listen. But until then, I'd really like to see you take a page from Byron Leftwich and do the best you can with what you have.

Can you do it? Of course you can. You're possessed with an extremely live arm and athletic talent that no other QB in the league can touch. If you put it together on a consistent basis, there isn't a team in the NFL that will be looking forward to playing against you. But a 52% passer needs to take a hard look at himself before he uses his receivers as a road bump, even if he's as talented as you are.

That's my opinion, anyways. What are your thoughts, guys?