This article first ran at the DC Landing Strip.
Listen, I'm no Redskins apologist. I hate Dan Snyder with all but two fibers in my being (the two that realize that he's better than this guy). I hope Vinny Cerrato chokes on a Danish or, better yet, is fired. FedEx is Hell on Earth.
Also, I love puppies, and the worst harm I'd ever inflict on one would be to boot a really tiny loud one off a bridge.
But the Redskins had better dig their star-horny claws into Michael Vick and never let go—and not just because the jersey sales will correlate to an illogical 45 percent rise in FedEx concession prices. It will work for the Redskins on the field, and if you remember, that's the point.
1. The Redskins Offense needs an ATHLETE.
'Skins fans lament the lack of a No. 1 receiver, and it's hard to disagree. And some think JC17 isn't the answer behind center. But what's really lacking is a guy who can simply make tacklers miss.
Vick's presence alone means the other team has to account for him, game plan for him, think about him before the game. If you've made D-coordinators think that much harder, you've improved your offense that much...harder.
What position exactly? We'll get to that...
2. We've yet to see the Zorn Star work magic with a Shiny New Wand.
In 2008, Zorn adjusted his West Coast pass-happy offense to suit his personnel, which is the mark of an intelligent coach. The result was a bland running-based game due to bland running-based personnel. Enter insane athlete.
Now, Zorn has studied the Wildcat diligently this offseason and admitted the 'Skins don't have the personnel to make it happen. Yet. Why? "Cleveland, with [Josh] Cribbs...probably did the best, but he's got a real acceleration."
So we need someone with real acceleration, preferably with QB experience? Hmmm...
I'm not saying Vick should become the new 'Skins QB; far from it. I think his unique skills are best utilized in various roles at various times. Sometimes that might mean some QB snaps. Mostly though, he needs plays designed for him specifically in some quasi-hybrid tailback role, a la 1920s football.
There has never been an athlete like Vick in the NFL—why not make up a position that's never existed? I'd love to see what Zorn can do with a unique talent on the roster for the first time.
3. Vick will be cheap.
I know, I know, the Redskins are salary cap wizards, and yes, there might not be a cap after this year...but the 'Skins are still paying Mark Carrier like $4.3 million per, and contract terms will be critical.
Vick's market value is going to be around Bear Sterns' right about now—which for those of you who don't read the Wall Avenue Journal means Vick will be getting dick for salary, and for one or two years tops. Low risk (cap room wise)/high reward is the idea here.
4. Vick will be motivated.
There are just plain ruthless murderous sociopaths, and there are ruthless murderous sociopaths with 10-figure debt and the whole world watching their every move.
True: You have to be colossally stupid to squander what Vick had circa 2006, and I wouldn't be surprised if he, Clinton Portis, Albert Haynesworth, and Fred Smoot were caught financing an underground squirrel-fighting ring or something. But he has to have learned from this. Maybe not in that moral, soul-saving way...but in a superficial, my-job-and-life-are-on-the-line way, which is good enough for me.
Maybe he'll still have the urge to strangle a labradoodle at first sight—but I get the feeling he'll resist this time. He's in survival mode at this point.
5. Despite pleas from fans, the 'Skins are determined to win now and delay a rebuild.
To most logical fans, 14 years of consistent mediocrity with an aging roster is a sure sign that the talent has been maxed out. To Vinny Cerrato and Dan Snyder, it's a never-ending indication that the 'Skins are one player away from winning it all.
I'm not saying Vick is that guy. I'm saying given the right circumstances, a healthy year on the offensive line, and basic progress from JC17, a well-utilized Vick could help put up enough points to make the offense respectable again. The 'Skins D and running game remain their strong points, and if healthy could do some postseason damage. It's getting there that's the issue.
So as long as we're stuck with a front office and owner playing this game, Vick is worth a look.
6. The offense needs hope.
If there was one thing that defined the Redskins offense in the second half of 2008—other than three-and-outs—it was the look and feeling of hopelessness. Early in the year the group was unstoppable, and they had the swag. As passes starting slipping through hands, Jon Jansen opened the Sack Gates, and Portis' injuries caught up to him finally, they lost it.
And what have they done since the disastrous 2008 finale? Precisely dick. Unless you believe in UFOs, you realize that Devin Thomas is a joke and Malcolm Kelly's knees are made of peanut brittle, and there's no such thing as an NFL offense with two tight end weapons. The cavalry isn't coming from those three.
But inject Vick into a locker room with stable vets and leaders, and it's an instant spark. Suddenly you have a guy turning heads in practice, adding that "wow" factor, that extra ingredient that Antwaan Randle El was supposed to provide but can't, since he is 5'2" in real life and was never that good.
Sometimes that's all it takes for a football team to make it over the hump. Hope.
Now Vinny, get on the phone with the Falcons and send next year's first, third, and fifth into oblivion and make this happen. Even if Roger Goodell doesn't reinstate Vick, what do we have to lose? They're just draft picks.