As a starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Vick’s record is 27-13-1. He is a dynamic player and the face of the team. But four years into his career, Vick has gotten no better as a passer.
Coach Jim Mora defends Vick, pointing to his record and his playmaking. But Mora was also the one who has insisted at times Vick has improved his throwing, which simply isn’t the case. Last week against the Jets, Vick was scattershot at best, completing 11-of-26 for 116 yards and three interceptions. Of course, he also ran for two touchdowns in a win.
Vick has only 723 yards passing, or nine fewer than running back Warrick Dunn has rushing. Vick completed only 52 percent of his throws, a terrible number in today’s NFL.
"The only stat that counts is to win the game," Vick said, "but still, I don’t want my stats to look bad or not be up to par."
Vick said he wanted to throw for at least 3,000 yards this season, but also said to have that happen the Falcons needed to throw the ball 30 to 40 times a game. That’ll never happen, both because Atlanta’s running game is so good and because of Vick’s inconsistencies.
"Everybody knows I’ve got great talents and gifts and can do things 90 percent of the guys in the league can’t do," Vick said. "I don’t feel like I’ve got to do things differently, show off my status, my power. I can do it, but it’s no need. . . . I understand the concept of winning and what it takes to win."
CRACKS IN D-MAC
Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb has been heroic both in playing through a painful sports hernia and passing all the time, given Philadelphia’s horrible rushing game.
But the injury is robbing McNabb of some of the things that have made him so good. He is having trouble throwing deep. McNabb obviously can’t run anymore either, as shown by his 8 yards on 14 carries this season. Once, teams feared McNabb could run for 40 or 50 yards in a game. His career average is 6.1 yards a carry, but this year, McNabb’s longest run is 5 yards.
The irony is that McNabb hated being called a running quarterback in his career.
"There were a lot of times where I wasn’t able to run," McNabb said. "I tried to move, and I’d get caught by a defensive tackle or defensive end.
"You’re just not running as fast as you used to. And you try to make plays just like you normally do. When I’m out there on that football field, I don’t even focus in on what’s hurting or what’s bothering me. I just try to play football."
RICKY THE SAINT
Ricky Williams’ career has been nothing if not tumultuous. His few years in Miami alone, capped by his stunning "retirement" last year and a surprising return in 2005, are the stuff of novels.
But Williams gets to weave the past and the present today, when his Dolphins play the Saints, the team with which he spent his first three seasons. While in New Orleans, Williams wore a wedding dress for an ESPN magazine cover, wouldn’t take off his helmet during interviews and was later diagnosed with a social-anxiety disorder.
"It’ll take forever to discuss everything that went wrong (in New Orleans)," Williams said. "I just was in a situation that, at the time, I wasn’t mature enough to handle. I think after coach Ditka left (after the 1999 season), things for me kind of fell apart. I went from like the sweetheart of the organization to pretty much the goat."
Williams dominated for the Dolphins in 2002 and 2003. But he has struggled this year.
- This report includes information from league sources, wire services and writers from around the country.