“Sources Says: Random Thoughts From a Random Guy” by Josh Conn… a.k.a. “League Sources”
*blows dust off of keyboard*
— Michael Vick is not “Michael Vick” any more. Not even close, actually. Since a great 2010 season with the Eagles, his completion percentage has declined every year since, dropping to 52.9% last year. The same trend is true of his rushing yardage and yards per carry. He has either missed outright or been removed from a game with an injury in every one of those years, too. He still has the strong arm, the happy feet, and the tendency to sacrifice his body unnecessarily. He’s also still brittle, his touch on passes has gone from bad to worse, and he too often simply doesn’t wait for secondary receivers to get open before he either forces a pass or starts scrambling.
I’ve read numerous internet opinions in recent days that the Steelers couldn’t have a backup more different than Roethlisberger to fall back on. I agree… but only to a point. Actually, the Steelers need to do exactly the same thing with Vick that they have successfully done with Roethlisberger over the last couple of years… convince him to see the bigger picture.
Up until last season, Big Ben would seldom if ever give up on a play, breaking tackles and running around the backfield in a dizzying pattern that Jeffy from “Family Circus” would be proud of. But last year, we started to see a different Ben: an older, smarter Ben. He would throw the ball away once in awhile. He was much more willing to dump the ball off to a back or secondary receiver instead of forcing a deep throw. And he stopped trying to run people over, or even run as often at all, in order to preserve his body.
Other than the running people over part, since Vick would rather run past or around defenders than over them… doesn’t that transition sound a little like what the Steelers need to convince Vick to do? Take what’s there, dump it off or throw it away if you have to, don’t run as much, and don’t jeopardize your 35 year-old body if you do. Sounds awfully similar to me. Plus, there is the added factor of a short week to prepare and Vick’s limited familiarity with the offense overall. This isn’t going to be as much about “dumbing down” the offense as convincing Vick that the best way he can help his team, his career, and his reputation is to change and adapt. If he can do that, that offense is plenty good enough to let him manage a few wins.
—There are a lot of reasons why Ravens fans are, and should be, upset right now with their 0-3 start. One of the biggest targets of their frustration should be GM Ozzie Newsome, because quite frankly, he and the rest of the front office have failed miserably too many times lately. One area where Ozzie and Company have failed the most is in recognizing what the NFL has become: a pass-first league. Baltimore’s current collections of wide receivers and defensive backs are, quite frankly, grossly inadequate to compete consistently in today’s NFL.
Steve Smith is still good, but he’s 36 years old and shouldn’t be any team’s #1 WR. Breshad Perriman was drafted in the first round this year, but he’s hurt and shows no signs of being able to play soon. After Perriman, the contingency plan included… Marlon Brown, Kamar Aiken, and Michael Campanaro. No, really, that’s about it.
In the secondary, Ladarius Webb still isn’t what he was in 2013, but he’s starter material. Jimmy Smith is mostly solid. But this is 2015, when you had better have 3, 4 or even 5 cornerbacks who can play and cover in a pinch. And the Ravens have been parading a bunch of guys other teams didn’t want through their backup cornerback spots for over a year now, with next to no success: Antwuan Molden, Aaron Ross, Rashaan Melvin, Cassius Vaughn, and now Kyle Arrington, to name a few from a cast of seemingly thousands.
A team with supposed Super Bowl aspirations cannot be so blatantly and critically devoid of
talented depth at both wide receiver and cornerback in today’s NFL. It’s a pass-happy league. You can have questions at one or the other of these two positions and still have some success… but not both.