Monday, May 18, 2009

Let Ron Mexico Play

Grant Hill sounds exactly like Tony Dungy. I mean exactly like him. I was listening to the radio this morning and Hill was on the Mike & Mike show, but before I realized who it was I just assumed that it was Dungy, probably on the show to talk about visiting Michael Vick in prison. But it was Hill and he didn’t have anything interesting to say. That’s no knock on Hill, it’s just that he’s one of those boring/nice guys who doesn’t add much to a broadcast because he’s not especially insightful, he’s definitely not funny, but he’s a nice enough, well-spoken (channeling the Chris Rock Colin Powell bit) guy, who is good looking, so he get opportunities. You know, exactly like Tiki Barber.

Regarding Vick, I’ve been reading about his imminent release from prison and the possibility that he’ll have to kneel before Zod before he’s reinstated. I’ve also read that if Goodell does reinstate him, that he may make him sit out some games to punish him for what he’s done. I guess because a 23-month prison sentence wasn’t punishment enough. Why does the NFL feel the need to tack on its own extra special suspension? Because he lied to almighty Goodell? Does the suspension have any meaning to Vick? Does Goodell think that this extra suspension will make Vick more remorseful for what he’s done? If Goodell doesn’t want “bad” guys in his league, then he simply should use Vick as a warning to all of the current and prospective players in the NFL and deny him reinstatement. F with me and you don’t play in this league. Plain and simple. This half-assed possible suspension serves no purpose, unless, of course, that Goodell is using the suspension as a passive-aggressive way of denying Vick reentry. He could impose a suspension that is so onerous (eight games, for instance) that would turn off nearly every team in the league because they’d have to sign Vick knowing that he couldn’t play for half of the season. That might essentially end Vick’s chances this year. Plus, if he does come back as a QB, then it would be even more difficult for him to assimilate because, as we’ve been told many times, NFL playbooks are difficult to learn.

That being said, this may not matter to some teams because I doubt very seriously that any team looking at him views him as a fulltime solution at QB. Because of the NFL’s copycat nature, Vick, through a strange twist of fate, may be coming back into the league at the right time. Because of the University of Arkansas’s success running the “Wildcat” with Darren McFadden, and the subsequent success that Miami had with the formation last year, suddenly teams are looking for a guy who can possibly run this scheme a few times per game. To wit, Miami nabbed West Virginia’s Pat White in the second round solely for this purpose. White is essentially Michael Vick. They’re about the same size, both are extremely elusive, and both are left-handed. Of course, White does not have nearly the arm strength that Vick has (or had, we don’t know if he still has it) but he’s far more accurate, and while White is fast, he’s not the Madden-99-speed fast that Vick is (or was). Actually, the guy that Pat White resembles the most is Seattle’s Seneca Wallace. For those of us Seattle fans who want to see more of Wallace, perhaps this the year because Holmgren has departed and the new regime is probably a little less conservative than he was offensively (on a consistent basis, I’m not talking about flanking him out wide for one play in one playoff game). It would be hard for them to be as conservative and impossible to be more conservative. Wallace may actually get some burn this year in certain packages and not just because Hasselbeck is hurt, but because it’s part of the game plan. But I digress…

Back to Vick, he’ll be 29-years-old next month, and I haven’t seen any footage of him running or throwing a football, but suffice to say, he’s going to be rusty. I doubt that he’s anywhere near tip-top shape, I’m guessing that a near superhero-level elite athlete like Vick can rebound with aplomb.

As an aside, with the advent of the Wildcat and Vick’s likely position running such an offense, it’s a good thing that he never had any problems with cats or else his comeback could go awry. Although I suppose that it’s possible that the authorities haven’t unearthed “Bad Pusseeezzz Kat Fightazzz,” the underground mountain lion fighting ring that Vick is financing.

Taking a look at current NFL rosters after the draft and free agency, here are each team’s QB situations.

AFC East:
New England: QB1 Tom Brady, QB2 Kevin O'Connell, QB3 Matt Gutierrez
New York Jets: QB1 Kellen Clemens, QB2 Mark Sanchez (R), QB3 Erik Ainge
Miami: QB1 Chad Pennington, QB2 Chad Henne, QB3 Pat White (R)
Buffalo: QB1 Trent Edwards, QB2 Ryan Fitzpatrick

AFC South:
Indianapolis: QB1 Peyton Manning, QB2 Jim Sorgi, QB3 Curtis Painter (R)
Jacksonville: QB1 David Garrard, QB2 Cleo Lemon, QB3 Todd Bouman
Tennessee: QB1 Kerry Collins, QB2 Vince Young, QB3 Patrick Ramsey
Houston: QB1 Matt Schaub, QB2 Dan Orlovsky

AFC North:
Pittsburgh: QB1 Ben Roethlisberger, QB2 Dennis Dixon, QB3 Charlie Batch
Baltimore: QB1 Joe Flacco, QB2 Troy Smith, QB3 John Beck
Cleveland: QB1 Brady Quinn, QB2 Derek Anderson, QB3 Brett Ratliff
Cincinnati: QB1 Carson Palmer, QB2 J.T. O'Sullivan, QB3 Jordan Palmer

AFC West:
Denver: QB1 Kyle Orton, QB2 Chris Simms, QB3 Tom Brandstater (R)
San Diego: QB1 Philip Rivers, QB2 Billy Volek, QB3 Charlie Whitehurst
Kansas City: QB1 Matt Cassel, QB2 Brodie Croyle, QB3 Tyler Thigpen
Oakland: QB1 JaMarcus Russell, QB2 Jeff Garcia, QB3 Andrew Walter

NFC East:
New York Giants: QB1 Eli Manning, QB2 David Carr, QB3 Rhett Bomar (R), QB4 Andre Woodson
Philadelphia: QB1 Donovan McNabb, QB2 Kevin Kolb, QB3 A.J. Feeley
Dallas: QB1 Tony Romo, QB2 Jon Kitna, QB3 Stephen McGee (R)
Washington: QB1 Jason Campbell, QB2 Todd Collins, QB3 Colt Brennan

NFC South:
Tampa Bay: QB1 Byron Leftwich, QB2 Luke McCown, QB3 Josh Freeman (R), Josh Johnson
Carolina: QB1 Jake Delhomme, QB2 Josh McCown, QB3 Matt Moore
Atlanta: QB1 Matt Ryan, QB2 Chris Redman, QB3 D.J. Shockley
New Orleans: QB1 Drew Brees, QB2 Mark Brunell (what?), QB3 Joey Harrington

NFC North:
Green Bay: QB1 Aaron Rodgers, QB2 Matt Flynn, QB3 Brian Brohm
Minnesota: QB1 Tarvaris Jackson, QB2 Sage Rosenfels, QB3 John David Booty
Chicago: QB1 Jay Cutler, QB2 Caleb Hanie, QB3 Brett Basanez
Detroit: QB1 Daunte Culpepper, QB2 Matthew Stafford (R), QB3 Drew Stanton

NFC West:
Arizona: QB1 Kurt Warner, QB2 Matt Leinart, QB3 Brian St. Pierre
Seattle: QB1 Matt Hasselbeck, QB2 Seneca Wallace, QB3 Mike Teel (R)
San Francisco: QB1 Shaun Hill, QB2 Damon Huard, QB3 Alex Smith
St. Louis: QB1 Marc Bulger, QB2 Kyle Boller, QB3 Brock Berlin

Any team with a young QB as a starter or as a starter of the future is likely out because the attention that Vick will receive will detract from the young QB’s development. Even if it’s best for young QBs to fly under the radar, I’ve got to think that the distractions from a media perspective will cause the young QB to harbor some resentment. So for that reason, the following teams are out: New York Jets (Sanchez and Clemons), Miami (Henne and White), Houston (Schaub, while he’s not exactly young, he hasn’t started much, plus he was Vick’s backup and I’m sure he’s telling the front office to stay the hell away), Baltimore (Flacco and Smith, kind of), Buffalo (Edwards), Cleveland (Quinn), Oakland (Russell), Washington (Campbell), Tampa Bay (Freeman and Johnson), Atlanta (Ryan and other reasons), Green Bay (Rodgers, Brohm, and Flynn), Chicago (Cutler – he would melt down), and Detroit (Stafford).
Similarly, any team that has an established core of three QBs that suit their needs or who don’t gamble on “character risks” (either they never have or have sworn off of them) will be eliminated. So the following teams are out: Indianapolis (they’ve got as solid 1 and 2 in the league and a pretty decent rookie in Painter at 3), Tennessee (after dealing with Vince Young, would they want to pick up Vick? I could see if they dumped VY, but not if they kept him), Cincinnati (come on, they can’t do it, right?), Kansas City (they’ve got a solid 1-3), New York Giants (Plaxed out), Philadelphia (McNabb still has it; despite Kolb’s meltdown, they still like him; Feeley is capable especially at no. 3), Dallas (Jerry Jones has to draw the line somewhere, doesn’t he?), Minnesota (while their QB situation is far from solid, they’re still holding the line for the stubbled one), and Seattle (for two reasons: 1. Ruskell is a slave to character, 2. Mora would never coach him again).

Some teams already have a player like Vick in the mix without the baggage, so they’d likely be out as well (I already mentioned Miami for different reasons): Pittsburgh (Dixon)
That leaves the following teams in play: New England, Jacksonville, Denver, San Diego, Carolina, New Orleans, Arizona, San Francisco, and St. Louis.

So let’s take a closer look at these remaining teams:

New England. Brady is coming off of his serious knee injury and we’re all expecting him to be fine, especially given that they let Cassel walk for a second rounder. But no one has seen Kevin O'Connell or Matt Gutierrez play any meaningful minutes. Vick would be surrounded by a team chockfull of veterans and would have no pressure to perform except in limited circumstances (or in case Brady goes down again). He would best be used in a package situation because New England’s offense requires an accurate passer and Vick has never been that.
Jacksonville. David Garrard is a good player who had a down year in ’08, but their backups are not inspiring. I’d be surprised if Cleo Lemon and Todd Bouman could beat Vick in a pie-eating contest much less for the number 2 job in Jacksonville. They’ve got a good running game and a revamped offensive line and a fairly basic offense. Vick could excel here as a package guy and as a backup.

Denver. No one knows what the hell is going on there. Kyle Orton is a nice QB, who can throw it around a little bit and might very well thrive under McDaniel’s guidance. Chris Simms is always going to be a guy who people are going to be disappointed in because he really looks like he should be better. The whole spleen thing really screwed him up and he hasn’t gotten any real action for a long time. No one knows if he’s any good or not, but if he was, it would make sense that he’d see the field given the lack of quality QB play in the league overall the last few years. I am unfamiliar with third-stringer Tom Brandstater. Vick would do well here in packages, but since the offense would be similar to what McDaniels ran in New England, it’s not well-suited to Vick’s strengths. Also, unless Vick could also play defense, I’m pretty sure everyone in Denver would be pissed. If he did join the team, he could wear No. 7 because no one of any note wore that number here, right?
San Diego. Billy Volek and Charlie Whitehurst at 2 and 3. Come on. Volek had some crazy games in Tennessee a few years ago, but he’s not that good and I’m sure that Clemson fans could tell you a thing or two about Whitehurst. Vick is clearly superior to both of those guys and you know how much he loves throwing to tight ends and even though Antonio Gates is getting old, he can still bring it. Plus they’ve got a great running game. San Diego looks very promising for Vick as a Wildcat QB and backup, even if Tomlinson might get upset about getting TD passes taken away from him.

Carolina. Jake Delhomme was as bad as he possibly could have been against Arizona in the playoffs last year. Josh McCown may be an able backup, but doesn’t seem to have much more ability than that. Matt Moore could grow into something given time, but he’s not going to threaten any number 2 guy out there right now, much less any starter. They have an absolutely fabulous running game featuring DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart aka “Double Trouble” formerly known as “Smash and Dash.” With the addition of Vick, I’d suggest that they change the moniker to “Boom Bash Dash” which, aside from sounding incredibly cool, actually fits their running styles and would be harrowing for D-coordinators to stop if all three were on the field at the same time. In case you’re wondering: Vick is “Boom” (as in “boom” he’s gone), “Bash” is Stewart (because of his bruising running style—and underrated speed), and “Dash” is Williams (because of his speed both in the hole and breakaway). Yes, I’m a loser.
New Orleans. I love Drew Brees and so does the City of New Orleans and his coach. Vick’s role here would be solely for Wildcat package purposes and to cause D-coordinators to dampen their khakis when he and Reggie Bush are on the field. They could run the legitimate veer option and gain 10 yards a pop. Believe it. The backup QB situation is pathetic here. I loved Mark Brunell—19 years ago at UW, now? Please. As for Joey Harrington. I’m not even going to waste my time. Let’s just say Vick has a good chance of making this team.

Arizona. Just as in New Orleans, Vick would go here as a Wildcat specialist. Warner is entrenched (obviously) and to the extent that Arizona still has faith in Leinart, it would be weird if he was pushed out in favor of Vick. I’m wholly unfamiliar with Brian St. Pierre. I doubt that Arizona would make this move. I don’t have much else to say here except that I look forward to them having a letdown year and Anquan Boldin playing for someone else (please).
San Francisco. Let’s be honest with each other here. San Francisco’s QB situation might be the worst in the league. I’ve been hearing about this as a team on the rise, but how could that be with these as your top three guys: Shaun Hill, Damon Huard, and Alex Smith? Get the hell out of here. There’s no chance. Huard has had his chances and has hung on in the league far longer than anyone could have anticipated and good for him for doing so, but get real. Alex Smith has been on death watch for years now (even though he did renegotiate his deal to stick around, everyone always says that he’s a really bright guy…). Vick could absolutely give this team some life, so much so that he could literally compete for the starting job.

St. Louis. Ok, St. Louis might be in a worse QB situation than San Francisco. That’s not entirely fair because Marc Bulger is still a nice player, but he’s suffered some injuries and there is no chance that either Kyle Boller or Brock Berlin will be successful. Boller has had numerous chances to make his way and has failed miserably. Berlin was awesome. In high school. Not since. Vick might be a good backup guy here and since they already have a guy who killed someone on their team, they could make room for a dog murderer.
Of the teams that I’ve decided could take a look at him for various reasons, I like Carolina, Jacksonville, and San Diego as my top three destinations for him. All three are in smallish markets, so the national spotlight would not shine too brightly on him or the team, he would be able to make a difference on winning teams by playing in spot situations, and he fits the personnel of the teams.

As a dog owner, I view Vick as a despicable human being and I wish (as he does, I’m sure) that he had the good sense to not commit those terrible acts (dude, a rape stand?), and I hope that he never has a chance to play again, or if he is, that he has to run from a pack of rabid dogs in order to gain reinstatement. As a football fan and a guy who is entertained simply by watching an incredible athlete run as fast as he can, I want Vick back in the game—or to watch a video of Vick running from said dogs, either one.

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