Michael Vick is a square peg in a round hole, and it's increasingly obvious that he always will be under this coaching staff. When Vick came into the league in 2001, he was, quite simply, a freak of nature. There have been good scrambling QBs before, but none with the lightning speed, agility, and cannon arm that this one had. Vick had so much potential that it was impossible to predict a ceiling for him.
And where is he now? On a struggling 5-5 team, completing less than half his passes, sitting in the pocket, and basically being a subpar QB who is capable of taking off for a big run. This is not what Vick was supposed to be. His ability doesn't indicate it, his contract doesn't indicate it, and his attitude doesn't indicate it. He's trying. He really is. But this team is more interested in making money off of him than maximizing his potential. When Vick is allowed to run simple plays that allow him to scramble all over the place and roll out, he often succeeds. When he sits in the pocket and tries to play the part of West Coast passer or "real" QB, he often fails. This isn't rocket science, folks. The problem is that Vick is surrounded by average receivers and coaches that insist on him being the QB they think he should be, rather than the one he is. I'm not angry about this so much as I am resigned.
And so yesterday, the square peg went out there again and tried real hard to fit into the round hole that Greg Knapp lovingly put together for him...and he didn't do well. The Ravens defense was tough and he wasn't capable of putting it together. End of story. The coaching staff won't criticize Vick because they know, in their heart of hearts, that their game plans are increasingly to blame. Lord knows you can only blame Vick for the same thing so many hundreds of times. Why is it so hard for the Falcons to tailor to Vick's strengths? Let him do what he does best. If he still loses you the game, then there's nothing more you can do. You've put your most dynamic player in a position to flash his skills, and that's all a coaching staff is really positioned to do with someone like Vick. I, for one, am tired of having to say that Vick isn't the QB he should be.
Let him be the QB he is, and let him sink or swim by that.
And the Ravens game? Very little to say that I haven't said before, of course. The new finger point for this week is aimed directly at the special teams, which allowed BJ Sams to traipse down the field as though they were a patch of tulips. That extends to the run defense, which was missing key players like Kerney and Abraham and stunk accordingly against Jamal Lewis, who is basically a creaky old man. The offense blew their chances repeatedly thanks to poor route running and poor throws by Vick, and once again the running game didn't get going as it should have. It was, in short, a very predictable loss for the Falcons at this point in the season. After picking them to win 5 weeks in a row and having them lose 3, I am a severely chastened man. Can this team beat the Saints next weekend without an infusion of healthy players or amazing talent? It's not very likely, that's for sure. But maximizing the potential of the players we do have should help us avoid sloppy, embarassing losses like the one we suffered yesterday.
Game MVP: BJ Sams. His returns were absolutely critical to a puttering Ravens' offense.
Game Theme Song: Hair by Atmosphere. Suitably tragic ending.
One Thing to Take Away: The good ship Falcon, if not sinking, is certainly taking on water rapidly enough.
Next Week: The Falcons are home against the Saints, who are going to have a field day on the secondary but who are also struggling.
Final Word: Lots of changes need to come, but it starts with playing better. Tough loss to a scrappy club, and it's time to turn around now before it's too late.