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  • Falcons let Vick be Vick

    By Lori Shontz

    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Michael Vick was injured while playing in an exhibition game a year ago and missed most of the season.
    (John Amis/AP)

    His biggest adjustment to the Atlanta Falcons' new offensive scheme? Michael Vick didn't have to agonize over that answer.

    "Waking up every morning and coming to the building to study the offense," he said.

    You see, Vick normally awakens at 8 a.m. But to be walking in the door to the practice facility at 7, Vick must wake up at 6:15.

    "That's a big difference," he said.

    "Other than that, it's just football," Vick added. "You've got to learn to execute the plays and do what the coach is asking for. There was really nothing tough about it."

    Yet for all Vick's blase attitude, his transition to the new scheme - commonly labeled as the West Coast offense - made the preseason a stressful one for Falcons fans.

    First, of course, came the worry that Vick would be injured. That was a leftover from the previous season, when a broken fibula in an exhibition game knocked him out for all but four games of the regular season.

    So Vick played sparingly during this preseason, sparking worries that he wasn't yet comfortable in the new offense. Plus, a hamstring injury kept him out of the Falcons' third exhibition game. Vick completed only five passes during the preseason.

    "I knew there was really no way I was going to win that one ... no matter what I did," said Jim Mora Jr., who took over as head coach when Dan Reeves was fired after last season. "I just couldn't wait for the regular season to get here so it would all go away."

    And that's just about what happened.

    The Falcons beat San Francisco in their opener and Vick played well, completing 13 of 22 passes for 163 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

    "Fortunately he went out in the first half and had a nice first half the other day, and I think that put a lot of people here at ease in terms of him being ready to play in this offense," said Mora, who insists that calling the Falcons' scheme the West Coast offense is not technically correct.

    To some who watched - including Rams defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson, who is preparing for Sunday's game in the Georgia Dome - that game showed that Vick is moving toward yet another level.

    "I see a progression," Jackson said. "I see a guy who's trying to be a quarterback, who's seeing the passes he needs to make. And then when a play breaks down ... you see the same old Michael Vick."

    To think of another level is saying a lot about Vick, who, as the Falcons' media guide puts it, possesses "rare athletic abilities not before seen at the quarterback position in the history of the NFL." But Mora is confident that Vick will prosper in a system that is based on the short passing game but has been tweaked to allow for rollouts and the best use of Vick's running skills.

    And no, Mora insisted, he doesn't want Vick to run less.

    "I love when he runs. I think it presents a huge challenge to defenses," Mora said. "All we're encouraging Mike to do is make good decisions when he is running. That means (the decisions include) 'When do I run, and stay here at the line of scrimmage and throw it away if there's nothing there down field?' 'When do I turn it up and get out of bounds?' 'When do I slide?' We don't want him to feel like he has to take it to the house every time he runs or absorb vicious hits. That's not what he needs to do, but we certainly want him to run."

    Jackson - who loves to watch Vick play, as long as Vick isn't playing against his team - said that from the first time he saw Vick, as a sophomore at Virginia Tech, he thought he was watching "a revolution."

    "No one ever had the tools to play quarterback like that before," he said.

    Actually, Jackson said upon reflection, that's not exactly true. He believes some black athletes who had those skills were directed toward other positions - running back, wide receiver, anywhere else.

    "Then there were white quarterbacks who ran, Fran Tarkenton, Joe Montana, Steve Young, and then people started to realize how big a threat that could be. Now they're looking for quarterbacks who are able to do that."

    For his part, Vick knows that such quarterbacks, especially Montana and Young, have paved his way.

    "It shows that mobile quarterbacks do have success in the West Coast system," he said. "It does allow you get out of the pocket and use your legs and run for first downs and pick up yards on the ground as a quarterback."

    The fact remains that as Vick goes, so go the Falcons.

    Two seasons ago, when Vick came of age as a quarterback by passing for 2,936 yards and 16 touchdowns and running for 777 yards and eight touchdowns, the Falcons qualified for the playoffs. They beat Green Bay in a wild-card game, becoming the first opponent to win at Lambeau Field in the postseason.

    Last season, without Vick, the Falcons played so badly in a 36-0 loss to the Rams on a Monday night that the team's owner Arthur Blank took out newspaper ads apologizing for the team's performance. Vick returned for the season's final four games and guided the Falcons to a 3- 1 finish.

    Given the team's success with Vick as a running quarterback, it no wonder fans are nervous. But like Mora, Vick thought the San Francisco game answered some questions.

    "After what everybody was saying, I think I did a pretty good job," he said. "I don't worry about what people say, (just) go out and do my job and take care of my business, so to speak. To evaluate my performance, I think I did a really good job, but I know there's room for improvement."

    Reporter Lori Shontz
    E-mail: [email protected]
    Phone: 314-340-8205

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Can Rams 'account' for Vick the second time around?
    by RamWraith
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Tuesday, Jan. 11 2005

    The last time the Rams played the Atlanta Falcons, they didn't get a real good
    look at quarterback Michael Vick.

    He darted around some defenders and outran others. He completed 14 of 19 passes
    for 179 yards and a touchdown and he ran for another 109 yards on 12 carries.
    The Rams hardly got a whiff of him.

    Imagine Barry Sanders with a bit more speed and a cannon arm. That's Vick, a
    man widely regarded as the best pure talent in the NFL.

    "As an athlete, he is the best in the league, there is no question about that,"
    Rams coach Mike Martz said during his Monday news conference. "The first thing
    you need to do is account for him."

    So how do they go about that during Saturday night's playoff game?

    During his regular playoff segment on 1380 ESPN's morning show, former NFL
    offensive lineman Mark Schlereth offered up an interesting suggestion: Don't
    assign a defender to track his whereabouts.

    "I don't believe you spy on this guy," Schlereth said, noting that a 300-pound
    defensive lineman or a 250-pound linebacker isn't likely to take down Vick with
    a one-on-one tackle anyway.

    "How defensive coordinators come up with that garbage is beyond me," Schlereth

    Also, the ESPN analyst said, "I don't believe in keeping the integrity of your
    rush lanes." By trying to merely contain Vick, he explained, tacklers play
    tentatively. And this guy runs around tentative tacklers.

    Schlereth suggested the entire Rams defensive unit ought to play Vick
    aggressively and take its chances.

    "Tampa Bay does that as well as anybody and they usually shut down Vick," he
    said. Earlier this season, the Buccaneers held him to eight completions and 220
    yards combined passing and rushing in one game, and just 196 combined yards
    (with two interceptions and five sacks) in the other.

    With that approach comes risk, of course. Vick is a big play waiting to happen.

    "You have to understand that he's going to make three game-changing plays with
    his feet," Schlereth said. "You just can't let the other stuff beat you."

    Indeed, Vick is an average passer. He threw just 14 touchdown passes during the
    regular season and 12 interceptions. His passer rating was just 78.1. He
    clicked with tight end Alge Crumpler, but didn't get a whole lot done with his
    wide receivers.

    Teams that did get after Vick caused him to make mistakes. Vick fumbled 15
    times, losing seven of them, and he suffered 46 sacks -- a stunning...
    -01-12-2005, 05:49 AM
  • RamWraith
    The offense, not defense, will have to stop Vick
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Jan. 13 2005

    Playoff update: The Rams don't have the Seattle Seahawks to kick around
    anymore. As exciting as it has been to watch the Rams come to life, momentum
    can only take them so far. And this week the Rams are going to Atlanta.
    Unfortunately, they can't return to Seattle to torment Mike Holmgren and the
    NFL's most gutless team.

    It's one thing to travel to the Pacific Northwest and slap around the feckless
    Seahawks. After all, the Rams did that in the regular season, before they
    supposedly found a righteous path to their newfound glory.

    A playoff win is an impressive achievement, but was anyone really surprised to
    see the Rams hold off Seattle? The terrain, and the challenge, have changed.
    Now the Rams move up in class. Now they go to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome
    hothouse. Now the Rams must face the Falcons, who clobbered them by 17 points
    in the second game of the season.

    "They lined up and whipped us, and whipped us good," Rams coach Mike Martz
    said. "And not because we didn't have somebody. They lined up and physically
    whipped us on both sides of the ball."

    And now the Rams face their own version of Mission Impossible: They have to
    trap Michael Vick, who bobbed and weaved through an overwhelmed, overheated,
    oxygen-deprived, arm-tackling, flat-footed Rams defense on Sept. 19.

    In a one-man demonstration of futuristic quarterbacking, Vick all but used the
    game to film another Nike commercial, with Rams' defenders serving as extras
    and props. Vick rushed for 109 yards, averaging 9.1 yards a carry, and
    completed 73 percent of his throws. Vick played at 70 mph. The Rams crawled
    along in the slow lane.

    "Obviously, Michael Vick did what he wanted," Rams quarterback Marc Bulger

    Vick is basically the best option quarterback in football history.

    The Rams may be able to prevent Vick from going off again, but I tend to doubt
    it. The Rams did a superb job of halting Seattle running back Shaun Alexander
    last week, but Atlanta is a different beast. When Seattle opts to run, everyone
    in the stadium knows Alexander will carry the ball. But Atlanta isn't as
    formatted. Vick can zoom off on a designed bootleg. Vick can fake a run and
    slip the ball to halfback Warrick Dunn. Vick can hand off to 242-pound
    bulldozer T.J. Duckett. Or Vick can drop back to pass, then launch himself on a

    Tapping into such grand diversity and extreme athleticism, the Falcons led the
    NFL in rushing. Coach Jim Mora wisely plays to this strength. When the Falcons
    get the early lead, which is often the...
    -01-14-2005, 05:31 AM
  • ramsanddodgers
    Vick Pleads Stupidity. World Agrees.
    by ramsanddodgers
    Vick Pleads Stupidity. World Agrees.
    Written by Hugh G. Rection
    Tuesday, 29 May 2007
    ATLANTA (AP) -- Michael Vick blamed his woefully low IQ for taking advantage of him after a police raid found evidence of dog fighting at property he owns in Virginia.

    An animal rights group scoffed at that explanation, saying they long suspected the Atlanta Falcons quarterback was involved in the fight-to-the-death activity. Vick responded to the group's accusations asking "Are they kidding? That kind of thing takes organization, planning, and the ability to make change"

    Embroiled in another embarrassing -- and perhaps criminal -- situation, Vick traveled to New York on Friday to take part in a Memorial Day parade, but got lost inside the airport and missed the entire event.
    Appearing at a news conference to ask directions on how to tie his shoes and get home he described himself as an unwitting victim of relatives living on his property in Smithfield, VA who realize how bereft of basic intelligence he is.

    "I'm never at the house as I can't find it on a map. I left the house with my family members and my cousin who said they were running a business providing day care to attack dogs. It's unfortunate I am not smarter," Vick said. "Even if I'm there, I don't know what's going on. Mixing metaphors he added "When it all boils down to brass tacks, two in the hand is a penny saved"

    John Goodwin, who handles dog-fighting issues for The Humane Society of America and clearly has never spoken with Vick, was skeptical that Vick was unaware of such a large operation -- especially when police were led to the property as part of a drug investigation after arresting the quarterback's 26-year-old cousin. In addition he doubts Vick's sincerity in his claim that he has no idea how his football cleats became caked with dog ****.

    Falcon's spokesman Reggie Roberts said the team would not have a comment until it got more details and a copy of Vick's high school transcripts. Vick's attorney, Larry Woodward, did not return a telephone message seeking comment. However, his law partner attorney Ron Mexico did add he was sure Vick would be "exhenerated of all such falaciating acumazations"

    The NFL said it is looking into the matter. Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear he intends to crack down on players involved in off-the-field misconduct and who are unable to come up with better excuses than Vick.

    A recent string of embarrassing incidents have involved Vick including a lawsuit that accused him of knowingly infecting a woman with a sexually transmitted disease, and flashing an obscene hand gesture to heckling Atlanta fans as he walked off the field following a loss In January. Security officers at Miami International Airport seized a water bottle from Vick that they said smelled...
    -07-12-2007, 08:01 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Michael Vick At It Again
    by r8rh8rmike
    MIAMI -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick reluctantly surrendered a water bottle to security at Miami International Airport that smelled like marijuana and contained a substance in a hidden compartment.
    Police said Thursday it could be weeks before a decision is made on whether to file charges.

    "We'll do an analysis and see what it is. There's no sense of urgency to it," Detective Alvaro Zabaleta said Thursday.

    The bottle was found to have a compartment that contained "a small amount of dark particulate and a pungent aroma closely associated with marijuana," the police report said. The compartment was hidden by the bottle's label so that it appeared to be a full bottle of water when held upright, police said.
    Vick entered an airport concourse Wednesday morning with the 20-ounce bottle. His initial reluctance to turn over the bottle aroused suspicion among airport security screeners, a police report said. He eventually handed it over and boarded his flight to Atlanta.

    Police said the bottle was sent to the Miami-Dade County crime lab.
    Vick did not immediately return a phone call early Thursday.

    "We plan to look into the matter and discuss it with Michael Vick before having any further comment," Falcons spokesman Reggie Roberts said.
    Under Florida law, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. First offenders rarely do any jail time.

    Two Transportation Security Administration screeners recognized the 6-foot, 215-pound Vick.

    Vick, 26, just finished the second year of a 10-year, $137 million contract he signed in January 2005. While he remains one of the NFL's most potent scoring threats and athletic performers, he has also been questioned for his consistency, particularly as a passer. However, new Falcons coach Bobby Petrino said earlier this month that he intends to design the team's offense around Vick.

    In 74 career NFL games, Vick has completed 930 of 1,730 passes for 11,505 yards and 71 touchdowns with 52 interceptions. He had career bests of 20 touchdown passes and 1,039 yards rushing in 2006.
    -01-18-2007, 12:31 PM
  • RamFan_Til_I_Die
    Michael Vick playing prison football
    by RamFan_Til_I_Die
    NY Daily News
    Gary Myers
    Sunday, April 6th 2008, 12:16 AM

    Michael Vick has a new job and is playing football again. The money is not quite the same and the records of the players are a bit different, too.

    Falcons owner Arthur Blank has been communicating by letter with Vick, who is at the United States Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., incarcerated at the facility's minimum security satellite prison camp.

    Blank told the Daily News that Vick writes that he is washing pots and pans for 12 cents an hour. He was sentenced to 23 months in December after pleading guilty to federal dogfighting charges.

    And in a scene straight out of the Longest Yard, Blank says Vick is playing football at Leavenworth. That's one way to pass his time and keep his arm loose. He's likely the first player picked when the inmates are choosing up sides or the guards are choosing up sides for them. Vick's sprinter speed surely comes in handy just in case a dog-loving inmate thinks it's cool to sack an NFL quarterback and break his shoulder.

    "He is staying in shape, Blank told The News. "Apparently, there was a prison football team and he played quarterback for both sides.

    That's only fair.

    Blank, a Flushing product, says Vick wrote to him first and they've now opened a dialogue by mail. He also says that Kevin Winston, the Falcons' senior director of player development, has visited Vick several times in prison. Blank says he has no plans to visit Vick.

    "He's written me a couple of times, Blank said. "I've written him back, he's stayed in touch.

    Vick's life has taken quite a nosedive from his days as a superstar quarterback. He can be comforted financially by Judge David Doty's ruling in Minneapolis in February that he can keep $16.25 million of the $20 million in bonus money the Falcons were trying to recoup. The NFL is challenging the ruling.

    Even if Blank feels betrayed by Vick, whom he signed to a 10-year, $130 million contract in 2004, he still clearly has a place in his heart for him, if not on his team.

    "I just try to be supportive and as understanding as I can be, Blank said. "He talks about the process he is going through and what he has learned, the lessons of life, how he's going to come out a different person. He's sorry he has affected so many people in a negative way the league, our club, our fans. He feels awful about that. The letters sound quite sincere to me. From a mental standpoint, he sounds good.

    What does he write to Vick?

    "I told Michael I'll do whatever I can to be helpful to him personally. Nothing to do with the Atlanta Falcons, Blank said. "He's a human being and I would like to reach out and if I can be productive to him in some way, I would be happy to do that.

    "I'd love to...
    -04-06-2008, 03:19 PM