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Michael Vick Shows Us Why the Era of the Running Quarterback Is Finally Here

Topher GuthrieContributor INovember 18, 2010

Michael Vick Shows Us Why the Era of the Running Quarterback Is Finally Here

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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    Sure, it just happened Monday.  But, for player personnel experts and casual fans alike, Michael Vick’s jaw-dropping performance against the Redskins was enough to herald a new era of QB play in the NFL. 

    It wasn’t long ago that seven-step drops and high Wunderlich test scores were the hallmark of a Pro Bowl quarterback.  But with more signal-callers hitting the 4,000-yard mark each year and zone blitz schemes ratcheting-up the pressure from every angle, running QBs are more valuable than ever before. 

    The last 10 years have seen run-first quarterbacks like Kordell Stewart, Randall Cunningham and Daunte Culpepper choose between staying in the pocket and staying home.  Scores of successful mobile college QBs have either switched to wide receiver or been released (I’m looking at you, Pat White). 

    But in a copycat league, Vick’s performance Monday will have pro personnel directors looking harder than ever for the next accurate passer who can pick-up big yardage when a play breaks down.

    Think I’m wrong?  Here are seven reasons why you should root hard for your team to find the next elite running QB…

Michael Vick Vs. Donovan McNabb

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    Win McNamee/Getty Images

    Both are 30-something, Pro Bowl quarterbacks vying for redemption in the hard-nosed NFC East.

    The similarities end there. One just signed a huge contract with $38 million in guaranteed money.  The other filed for bankruptcy and owes over $20 million to creditors. 

    One has a sterling reputation, tons of playoff experience and has earned millions in endorsements. 

    Oh yeah, one just put up one of the all-time great single-game performances from the quarterback position, against a tough defense in prime time.

    In the early 2000s, McNabb was lauded for reining in his desire and skill as a runner in the pass-insane Eagles offense.  His success remains predicated on patience in the pocket and running as a last resort. 

    Also in the early 2000s, Vick was a run-first QB with electric talent and only one playoff win.  McNabb has six Pro Bowl berths to Vick’s three, almost every Eagles passing record and the massive contract. 

    That was the 2000s.

    For 2010, see last Monday night.

Josh Freeman

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Think Josh Johnson had a chance in the Bucs QB battle this summer? 

    The Buccaneers are a 6-3 playoff contender with below-average talent.  Who has two hands and is the biggest reason?  (Point to yourself, Josh.) 

    Freeman is the elusive, big-armed signal-caller everyone wants with the ability to pick up extra yardage on any play.  Oh, and his 221 rushing yards through 10 weeks puts him just ahead of Marshawn Lynch and Jonathan Stewart.  

Ryan Fitzpatrick

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    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    The Harvard grad is doing his Master’s work in balling for the 1-8 Bills. 

    Fitzpatrick is one many quarterbacks to emerge from two-man battles, sending the loser to the bench or packing.  It just happens all the QB winners are more mobile than their bench-bound counterparts—Fitzpatrick, Jason Campbell, Vick, Troy Smith and Vince Young, for instance. 

    Oh, the established running quarterbacks, you ask?  Three of the top five QBs in the league by passer rating are threats to run at any time—Vick, David Garrard and Vince Young.

Aaron Rodgers

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    It’s already the era of the elusive quarterback.  The prototype for success in the NFL is the big-framed quarterback who can step up in the pocket or sidestep a charging 260-pound defensive end. 

    Think of Ben Roethlisberger or Aaron Rodgers extending the play with his feet, giving the receiver time to make a second move and get open.

    What era is it not?  The era of the running back.  The team with the league’s worst running game has been good enough to make the Super Bowl each of the last two years.  So what if the ’09 Colts and ’08 Cardinals both lost.

Tim Tebow

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

    Why did the Broncos trade three picks to move up in the draft and take Tebow? 

    Not to look at his Heisman and not for his mechanics. 

    Coach Josh McDaniels might feel as though the run-first quarterback has some skills that translate on the next level.  Makes you wonder how many picks will be traded to draft Jake Locker, Terelle Pryor or Cam Newton when they come out.

Matt Leinart

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    There’s no bigger risk in the NFL than drafting a quarterback in the first round.  Nobody wants to be the guy that gave huge guaranteed money and planned the future around a quarterback that eventually gets cut in training camp. 

    The Cardinals, Raiders or Browns might have more regrets than a Vegas wedding at 3:00 am.

    On the other hand, a team that never takes the first-round plunge might be left with a lead-footed journeyman directing them on a collision course with mediocrity.  Think the Seahawks, Panthers or Dolphins would benefit from a quarterback that could elude a pass rush?

Zone Blitz Schemes

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    Jim Prisching/Getty Images

    When do you know where the blitz is coming from?  At the line of scrimmage or when your QB is tasting more grass than Les Miles?  Zone blitz schemes force quick check downs. 

    One-two, then go.

    Now, imagine your “go” portion of that formula is followed by Michael Vick sprinting for a 30-yard gain.  Maybe next time that zone blitz won’t be so… blitzy.  

    The Giants will sport one of the best pass rushes in the league when they face the Eagles next Sunday night.  They bring pressure in a variety of ways from every angle and present a huge challenge for any offensive line.  Let’s see how much pressure they’re bringing in the fourth quarter after chasing No. 7 for a couple hours

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