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Where will Michael Vick Land?

8-01-09

JAY'S WAYS
Michael Vick Edition

WHICH TEAM SHOULD SIGN MICHAEL VICK? I'VE GOT THE ANSWER

The Michael Vick rumors are flying, which is to be expected.

There was strong speculation that Vick would be brought in to talk to the New England Patriots (+575 to win the Super Bowl at BetUS), and frankly, I'm not sure what the basis of all that was, because I read Bill Belichick's quotes and I don't think there's any way you could get the impression that there was real interest in Vick, just because Belichick didn't blow the idea out of the water outright. According to Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, signing Vick is not a consideration. “Because we’ve got the number one player in the world at that position, as far as I’m concerned. Why would we want do anything that would take (Brady) off the field for one play?“

New England looks primed to sign Cleo Lemon, who was Miami's quarterback for much of their 1-15 season in 2007, as a backup, which virtually guarantees Brady won't be taken off the field for one play.

Yet people still want to get carried away with statements that imply nothing, or next to nothing. This quote came from John Fox, coach of the Carolina Panthers (+2200 to win the Super Bowl at BetUS): "We're pretty set at quarterback. We like the guys we have. I wouldn't want to rule anything in or out, but we feel comfortable with where we are."

Naturally, that prompted the headline "Michael Vick to Carolina?"

One scenario that would seem to have some basis in logic has Vick talking to the Seattle Seahawks (+210 to win the NFC West at BetUS), where one of his head coaches in Atlanta, Jim Mora Jr., has taken over for Mike Holmgren.

Greg Knapp is the offensive coordinator in Seattle, and under his leadership the Falcons finished #1 in the NFL in rushing three straight years. Vick, of course, was the quarterback, and he became the first at his position to rush for a thousand yards. Seattle already has a guy who can do some of the things Vick did - Seneca Wallace - but he doesn't do those things as well as Vick.

By the way, this is what Mora has gone on the record as saying: "We are very happy with the quarterbacks we have on our roster. We have no intentions of adding a quarterback to our roster."

Well, I'm not looking to start any rumors; I'm just looking to make an observation and offer an opinion as an analyst and a fan; an opinion based on common sense, with a rationale that is so reasonable it will probably never happen.

Let me say right off that I would not be keen on the idea of signing Michael Vick. From what I understand about his actions, he has shown some of the elements of a sociopathic personality, and I just doubt that would be the kind of person who would be selfless enough to lead a team to an NFL title. I know some people who have worked in the NFL recently, and I can tell you that all of them had said they wouldn't touch Vick, which is thought was kind of unusual, actually.

One former scout told me that when teams are getting ready for a draft, they will tend to completely disqualify certain guys on the basis of "character" out of hand, which means they would not draft that player under any circumstances. One of those players was Lawrence Phillips, the Nebraska running back who was taken sixth overall by Dick Vermeil at St. Louis but was off a lot of teams' boards.

Another guy like that was running back Cecil Collins, who went to McNeese State after being kicked out of LSU, who had been put in jail twice for "sleepwalking" (in his words) and breaking into the dorm rooms of women. During the investigation process, it was discovered by scouts (who do their homework on these things) that there was a sexual assault incident that had taken place before college, and when Collins was interviewed at the Scouting Combine he lied about it.

That took him off a lot of boards. Some teams, however, wouldn't disqualify him totally. One of them was Miami, with Jimmie Johnson, who believed the "sleepwalking" stories and took him in the fifth round. Well, he "sleeepwalked" through the window of one south Florida woman during his rookie season, presumably to do some sexual damage to her. He's in jail, with his career over.

I guess the point I'm making is that this difference in philosophy is why you've heard that so many teams have absolutely denied any interest in Vick. They just don't want further problems.

One of those teams may want to re-consider.

Minnesota's coach and owner had said they were not going to shop for Vick, but of course now the Vikings (+750 to win the NFC title at BetUS) may face real quarterback problems with Brett Favre not signing a contract and Tarvaris Jackson spraining his knee (although that's not going to keep him out for long). The Vikings, to me, represent a waste of talent, to some degree. Here is a team that controls things at the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense (as long as the Williams non-brothers are able to play). They have a pass rush now, and arguably the best running back in the game in Adrian Peterson (+225 to win the rushing title at BetUS). A team that has all that, not to mention a guy in Chester Taylor who can provide the "2" in the 1-2 punch, should be the prohibitive favorites in the NFC North, and should always be a threat to make it to the Super Bowl.

So why aren't they?

Of course the answer is that they have such poor quarterback play, and Brad Childress, the coach, has not addressed it seriously. It kind of reminds me of the how the Bears wasted the talents of Walter Payton before Mike Ditka got there.

So the Vikings, who run it so well, can't pass the ball, which has become an old joke by now. Ergo, it has occurred to me that if there was any team that was a candidate to run the spread option offense full-time, it is the Minnesota Vikings.

We saw what the Dolphins did with it as a variation last season, and we saw teams copying it to make up packages of their own. We saw the Kansas City Chiefs actually put it to work on an extended basis with Tyler Thigpen at the helm toward the end of the year.

Despite what any of my NFL friends tell me, I believe the spread is here to stay, and will become a genuine alternative for teams as their base offense. You've just got too many college teams doing it, with capable quarterbacks throwing the ball all over the field, and it is infiltrating the high schools to the point where if it is not the most popular offense, it soon will be. You wouldn't have to worry about QB's "adjusting" to the "pro style,' because the spread WILL be the pro style. Remember that the difference between the spread and the triple option is that the spread can be equally dangerous as both a passing AND running threat.

The Vikings have some of the elements that could make this offense work. They have the great offensive line. They have the great running back, which is so essential, and to boot, there's a partner for him in the backfield. They now have Percy Harvin, a "hybrid" guy who has played this offense at Florida. I wished they would have tried this offense with Jackson, who can run, because it would make him more effective, Now there is a guy on the market who can REALLY make it work for them, because it would drive defensive coordinators nuts. When is the last time Minnesota really did that?

If you recall, in Vick's last season in Atlanta, he was actually employing this offense to some extent, where he would the shotgun snap, read the linebacker, and decide whether to hand it off to Warrick Dunn or Jerious Norwood, or drop back and throw it. That team led the league in rushing. You need the right kind of ball-handler to do this with, and Vick could be the ticket.

Of course, there are stumbling blocks. Vick wouldn't be able to play until the sixth game, at the earliest, and I guess Minnesota would have to be convinced that Favre wasn't going to decide to come back and play (these things can drag on forever, as we know). Then there's that whole sociopath thing.

But you know, they could get the ball rolling with Jackson and then ease Vick into the lineup. Couldn't they? Yeah, I know it sounds silly to some, but to avoid another season of frustration; to avoid another year where you've got the rushing leader but went quietly in the playoffs - if you even got there in the first place - you've got to do SOMETHING.

Don't you?

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