What Kind of QB is Michael Vick at This Stage of His NFL Career?

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystMarch 24, 2014

The veteran-quarterback carousel has taken its spin in the NFL in 2014, but among the aging signal-callers who find themselves on new teams, the most interesting case has to be the latest member of the New York Jets.

As Michael Vick prepares to head to the Big Apple and his third NFL team, the questions abound:

What are the Jets' plans? Was Vick brought in to push Geno Smith or supplant him?

The most important question left to be answered, of course, is what exactly the Jets are getting for their $5 million. Will they receive the explosive athlete with the cannon left arm or the over-the-hill, turnover-prone injury waiting to happen?

The Jets, for their part, are all smiles about the 33-year-old's arrival. Even Smith lauded the signing, telling The Associated Press (h/t NFL.com), "Awesome, man. Vick's my guy. We needed to find a guy that was legitimately a guy that could come in and play. I think that's what we did."

We'll see if Smith feels the same way about Vick in September if he's watching him play from the bench, because depending on which Vick shows up in training camp, that may well happen.

Just ask Nick Foles.

In essence, the career of Michael Vick has unfolded in three acts, with a first and third act that are very similar.

The first act, "The Atlanta Years," were a blur of motion. That Michael Vickhe of the first overall pick and later of the 10-year, $130 million contractwas lightning in a bottle, dodging would-be tacklers and flicking lasers down the field with equal ease.

Mike Vick 2001-2006
YearComp. %P YardsR YardsTotal TDTotal TORating
Per Pro Football Reference

You may not have always known where the lightning was going in Atlanta, but it was good enough for three Pro Bowl nods and two trips to the playoffs, including a memorable win over Brett Favre's Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in 2002.

Then, of course, everything came crashing down. The dogfighting scandal. Prison time. Two years of his life, his career and everything Vick had were gone. Squandered.

Vick was released from federal prison in 2009, was reinstated by the NFL and signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. That's where the second act begins, although Vick played sparingly that year.

The 2010 campaign was a different story. After Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion, Vick took over the reins under center and took off.

Mike Vick 2010
Comp %P YardsR YardsTotal TDTotal TORating
* Career Bests

Despite playing in only 12 games that season, Vick set career highs in passing yards, completion percentage, passer rating, passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. He also led the Eagles to the playoffs and won the Comeback Player of the Year Award. Vick's 413 total yards and six touchdowns in Week 10 that season was one of the greatest individual game performances of the past decade.

When he signed the second $100 million contract of his career in 2011, it appeared things had come full circle for Vick. They had—in more ways than one.

The third act of Michael Vick looked a lot like the first act, only older. The "wow" plays were still there, but they were fewer and farther between.

Mike Vick 2011-2013
YearComp. %P YardsR YardsTotal TDTotal TORating
Per Pro Football Reference

It was not the same case for the turnovers, though. In both 2011 and 2012, Vick threw double-digit interceptions and fumbled at least 10 times. He also missed at least three games.

Vick restructured his deal to stay in Philly last year and was able to beat out Nick Foles for the starting job in camp, but after getting hurt yet again, he lost the job for good.

Vick wasn't shy about wanting an opportunity to start in 2014, and while it appears he'll get that opportunity to do so in New York, he told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News that he'll have to pass Smith on the depth chart in order to do so:

Mind you, it's not exactly a stretch to forecast that happening. Smith had his moments as a rookie, but he also had his share of struggles. And if the Jets were completely sold on Geno Smith, I wouldn't be writing this article.

Plus, Vick showed flashes, even last year. The first half of the Eagles' season opener against the Washington Redskins last year, when the NFL got its first look at Chip Kelly's uptempo offense, was a clinic.

The wheels are still there, too, although they are not what they once were. In fact, the longest run of Vick's NFL career was a 61-yarder against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3 last year.

There's enough left in Vick's tank for him to beat out Smith and be the Week 1 starter for the Jets. With that said, though, fans looking for a return to his 2010 form are setting themselves up to be disappointed.

That transcendent season was a one-shot deal. The fact of the matter is, Vick didn't post numbers like that prior to 2010, and he hasn't since. It's simply not happening again.

However, even in the twilight of his NFL career, Vick has a plus arm, and an old Mike Vick is still fleeter of foot than more than one young linebacker.

But for every "wow" play, there's going to be one that leaves fans shaking their heads—quite possibly more than one.

Vick has never completed an especially high percentage (56.2) of his passes. He's also been sacked 287 times and has turned the ball over over 120 times in his career.

Outside of 2010, Vick has never made the best of decisions with the football, and in recent seasons he's been very careless carrying it, with 36 fumbles in 42 games since 2010.

Even if Vick does win the job, Smith will need to be ready, because at some point he's all but certainly going to see action.

As reckless as Vick has been with the football during his career, he's been even more so with his body. In 11 NFL seasons, Vick has played in 16 games all of once.

Mind you, this could all be moot. It's possible that the Jets' interest in signing Vick is more about hopethe hope that Vick's arrival will push Geno Smith to up his game during his sophomore season.

ESPN's Mike Greenberg thinks that's a real possibility:

That's likely what's best for the Jets.

This isn't to say that Geno Smith is the answer for the Jets over the long term, but Vick as a mentora role he took to with surprising ease and success last year in Phillyis probably more beneficial to the Jets than Vick as a starter.

That may not be what some fans want to hear, and it's probably not what Vick believes, but here's the thing: The perception of what Vick can do at this point in his career and the reality of what he will do are two very different things.


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