Welcome to the Devil's Take! Normally, I would discuss Colts football in this segment, but I saw a topic that really struck me as hilarious and felt the need to cover it. Today, I'm going to discuss the recent signing of Michael Vick. If you haven't seen or read it by now, the Eagles have signed Michael Vick to a new 6 year, 100 million dollar contract, with almost 40 million guaranteed.
Did you hear that pin drop? Yes, the Eagles just signed Vick to another dumbo sized contract based on what exactly?
Absolutely nothing. That's right. The Eagles signed a QB with less than league average numbers to a six figure deal reserved for arguably the upper echelon QB's. You know, the guys like Rivers, Brees, Brady, and oh yeah, that Peyton Manning guy.
In the history of bad deals, it's still not the worst. However, you would think that the Eagles would have done their homework on this one.
Let me first start off by saying I am not a Vick hater. He committed his crimes, he did his time, and he's free to start his own life over again. If someone wants to let him play football, that's not my decision. In fact, the NFL needs guys like Vick to be honest. It's what makes football, football in my opinion. The ability to love or hate a player simply because you can.
So why do I think the Eagles did a dumb thing here? First, you have to look at the Eagles track record. Their top 3 QB's in the history of their franchise are Ron Jaworkski, Randall Cunningham, and Donovan McNabb. For most of you, the last two occurred in the last 25 years, so you are familiar with the name, if not the player. Cunningham would be the prototype for basically every black QB, and some white QBs, to enter the league to this very day. Good arm, fast legs, and the ability to outrun people. McNabb, was essentially a newer version of Cunningham, holding or setting virtually all of the Eagles QB records in his time with the team. As the starting QB, he would direct them to the playoffs virtually every year as their QB and go to the NFC Championship 5 times, 4 times in a row, and lose their lone SB appearance.
So how does Vick fit in here? Well, let's go back to when McNabb was first brought into the team for the Eagles. McNabb was the starter for the Eagles in 1999-2000, and was signed to a mega-million contract extension in 2002, for $115 million. Vick meanwhile, would be granted the keys to the Falcons starting job in 2001, and would get a mega-million contract extension in 2004 for $130 million. You are probably saying to yourself, what's the big deal? Both of these QB's were given new contracts despite never even fulfilling their first contract, and neither had even outplayed their first contract.
So why the big deal? Neither player really produced any numbers meriting that kind of contract extension. To put it bluntly, both QB's were run of the mill average QB's, even being equaled by poorer QB's on crappier teams.
Vick 2001 to 2004 - 43 games played
512 completions, 955 attempts, 72.9% QB rating, 51.4% completion , 6619 yards, 36 TDs, 26 INTs, 109 sacks
2223 yards rushing, 13 rushing TDs, 35 fumbles, 19 fumbles lost
2 playoff appearances
Donovan McNabb - 1999 to 2002 - 54 games played
932 completions, 1639 attempts, 77.1% QB rating, 55.8% completion, 9835 yards, 71 TDs, 38 INTs, 140 sacks
1884 yards rushing, 14 rushing TDs, 25 fumbles, 17 fumbles lost
3 playoff appearances
Now if you look at just those guys stats, of the two, only McNabb played anything remotely worthy of a massive contract extension. The difference between these two players is solely that while McNabb was winning, Vick was a hype machine, drawing "attention" while not really doing much in terms of staying on the field or producing for that matter. Yes, Vick went to the playoffs twice, but that's not the whole barometer of success. Many a team has gone to the playoffs with a weak QB (Trent Dilfer anyone?). And as an added comparison, a QB who we all know was relatively horrible...
Joey Harrington - 2002 to 2005 - 58 games played
986 completions, 1802 attempts, 68.3% QB rating, 54.7% completion, 10242 yards, 60 TDs, 61 INTs, 77 sacks
Roughly 300 yards rushing, 0 rushing TDs, 21 fumbles, 8 fumbles lost
Wow. Arguably one of the worst QB's in recent memory, and yet, produced almost equal numbers across the board to two "mega-million" contract QB's. Why is that? Unlike Harrington, Vick and McNabb went to teams with past winning pedigrees, and in the case of Vick, only a few years removed from a SB appearance. The Eagles, while not exactly doormats like the Lions, had only had a few bad years since a stretch of 4 playoff appearances in 6 seasons. So while both the Falcons and Eagles stunk it up for a year or two, their issues weren't so much as a team but a few pieces while Harrington went to the bottomless pit of teams in the NFL.
Now, I'm sure many will point out that guys like Rothelisberger got a massive upgrade on their contracts with a limited resume. The only difference here is that the kid went 15-1 his rookie year, went to the AFC Championship the same year, and would go on to be the youngest SB winner the following year. He would go on to win another SB 2 years later. He so out played his rookie contract that it merited a new contract. Do I agree with it? Not really. Still, if you want to compare the contracts, compare the deeds.
So that brings us to the present. Vick has once again been handed a massive contract and I'm still sitting here going WHY? The answer? The hype. It's the what if's, the could have been's, because that's all this guy has right now.
His best year as a QB in the NFL was last year, in which he played 12 games. As a starting NFL QB, you can't play just 12 games to be a franchise QB.
100.2 QB% rating, 233 completions, 372 attempts, 62.6% completion, 3018 yards, 21 TDs, 6 INTs, 34 sacks
676 yards rushing, 9 rushing TDs, 11 fumbles, 3 fumbles lost
His best season. The guy who replaced Vick in Atlanta, Matt Ryan, had a better year his rookie season. That's barely better than Joe Flacco's, Tony Romo's, and Carson Palmer's rookie years. If you toss out mop up duty in a worthless game their "rookie season", Drew Brees, Daunte Culpepper, and Kurt Warner all had better years their true rookie year as a QB. And of course, Peyton Manning had a better season as a rookie than Vick has ever had in his career.
Many will point out that I make no mention of his ability to run the ball as adding a dynamic others cannot. However, that ability often hurts the QB as much as it helps short term. Not to mention the injuries. Vick missed a few games because of injury. McNair spent countless games banged up and taking shots just to get in the game. Then you have tough guys like Favre, Manning, and Brady, who simply shrug off most ailments to play regardless. The difference however is that these guys are pass first run second type QBs. Yes, Favre tended to run, but most of his running was to extend the pass play, not run for yardage.
There hasn't really been a run first QB that has truly succeeded in this league in recent years. At the very least, not a year in and year out effect. Teams adjusted and counter acted it. Elway, Young, McNair, Cunningham, even McNabb, all changed to a pass first style QB to truly succeed. Vick has never done this, and while last season was arguably the best year of his career, will it carry over to a new year?
Lastly, before I go, I want to again stress that I have zero hatred or envy of Michael Vick. I think the guy is a dynamic player who has immense talents and could be a great QB in this league. However, like many other players in the history of the NFL, he's never lived up to the full ability of his hype. He's still a mid level QB in terms of passing and he's still more reliant on running as a QB than actually passing the ball. It's kind of like the comparison of Ryan Leaf and Peyton Manning. Leaf had the talent, the ability, but he never lived up to the hype and results on the field. Manning did. Vick still has yet to really show us his full potential....and here's one person wondering if he ever will.