Archive for July, 2009

Free Mike Vick

July 29, 2009

I think Michael Vick deserves a chance to play the entire season.  I also hope it’s with the Washington Redskins, and I think there’s a pretty good chance of that.

Let Vick Play

First, what Vick did to those dogs was obviously terrible.  I like dogs, and they like me.  But Vick paid a huge price, spending two years in prison, missing two full NFL seasons, and losing all of his money.  The whole idea that the NFL is suspending Vick on top of the jail sentence doesn’t make sense to me.  The NFL suspended Vick two years ago, so he has already been suspended for two full seasons.

The NFL has left the door open for Vick to come back right away, with its ambiguous ruling, but Vick may also have to wait until week 6 to play.  The NFL wants Vick to miss the opening week of the season so the story doesn’t dominate the headlines.  They also are concerned with reaction from extreme animal groups as well as a society that seems to place more value on the lives of animals than people.  Other players did worse and got lesser punishments.

  • Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis pleaded guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice in a murder trial in 2000.  Lewis was originally accused of having a role in the deaths of two people but he never received even a fraction of the vilification that Vick did.  In fact, he became a hero.  Lewis was not suspended by the NFL but was fined $250,000.  The next season, Lewis led the Ravens to a Super Bowl victory.  Lewis has consistently been one of the most praised players in the NFL since the incident.
  • St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little was suspended for only 8 games by the NFL after he was convicted of manslaughter in 1998, killing a woman while driving drunk.  Vick has already missed four times as many games as Little.  (Little spent 90 days in jail).  In 2004, Little was arrested again on charges of driving drunk.
  • Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donte Stallworth is on indefinite suspension from the NFL after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in April after killing a man while driving drunk.  Stallworth only spent one month in jail and will likely be reinstated to the NFL after this season.

Vick is a Quarterback

One of the problems with 24-hour sports talk, ESPN, and the sports blogosphere is that people don’t do much thinking for themselves.  They just repeat back what everybody else says (It’s the same with news).  I’d say 90% of the so-called NFL experts have said over the last two years that when Vick comes back, he will come back not as a quarterback, but as a wide receiver, kick returner, or situational quarterback.  The thinking goes that Vick wasn’t that good of a quarterback in the first place, and two years away from the game would not enable him to recover and play the complex position of quarterback.

Here’s why all those people are wrong.  Vick may have been one of the fastest players in the league during his first few years, but after 6 years of playing QB in the NFL, the wear and tear on Vick probably left his speed at merely faster than average for an NFL wide receiver.  Now after two years of inactivity, he may be just middle of the road as far as speed for NFL receivers.  Plus, he has never played receiver.  If you have Vick at wildcat QB, ok, then he can throw the ball, run with it, catch it, or be a decoy.  But he’s too talented to just play 10 plays a game long-term.

As I’ve said before in my other blog (www.mikefrandsen.org – click “Quarterbacks”), people don’t place a high enough value on quarterbacks who win.  It’s why quarterbacks like Vick (38-28-1 record as a starter) and Vince Young (18-11) get underrated, while quarterbacks like Jay Cutler (17-20) get overrated – because people care more about stats than wins.  Gee, I wonder what else it could be? The way the talking heads talk about Vick and Young makes you wonder if they have an axe to grind – as if they actually dislike them.

Vick’s 71-52 touchdown to interception ratio isn’t that bad despite the fact that he never had good wide receivers, and his WRs dropped a lot of passes his final two years.  Vick also led the Falcons to a 27-7 victory over Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field in 2003, at a time when the Packers had never lost a home playoff game.  The media constantly harps on Vick’s low completion percentage, (53.8%) as evidence that he is a bad QB, but you could take every player’s worst stat out of context if you ignore his good stats.  Who would you rather have, Vick, or a one-dimensional immobile QB with a high completion percentage?  They talk about Vick’s low passer rating, but quarterback ratings don’t take into consideration how well QBs avoid sacks and how many yards they gain on the ground.

Also, it’s not as if the Falcons from 2001 to 2006 were known for having great defense, or great anything, really.  What could Vick have accomplished on a good team?  Vick has 3859 career rushing yards and averaged 7.3 yards a carry.  In 2006, Vick rushed for over 1000 yards and had 8.4 yards a carry, an NFL record!  Great rushing quarterbacks have succeeded — look at Steve Young and Steve McNair.  The dimension that Vick has of running with the ball scares a defense a lot more than overrated quarterbacks who throw tons of interceptions.  Vick has never thrown more than 13 interceptions in a season.  Again, that’s not spectacular, but it’s not as bad as the so-called experts would have you believe.

The fact is that Vick is better than just about all of the backup quarterbacks in the NFL, and better than a lot of starters.  Maybe not this minute, but after he’s spent the month of August and the early part of the season practicing with a team he will be.  At the absolute worst, in my opinion, these are the only quarterbacks who are better than Vick (I put them in order of where I believe they rank).  And within a year, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Vick ends up starting somewhere and moves up to Tier 4, and maybe even up to Tier 3 after a couple of years if he gets into the right situation.  So that means that right now, or by the early part of the season, Vick would be better than nearly a third of the starting quarterbacks in the league.

Tier 1

Peyton Manning

Tom Brady

Tier 2

Drew Brees

Kurt Warner

Donovan McNabb

Ben Roethlisberger

Carson Palmer

Eli Manning

Philip Rivers

Tier 3

Aaron Rodgers

Tony Romo

Matt Ryan

Jay Cutler

Matt Hasselbeck

Chad Pennington

Kerry Collins

Tier 4

Jake Delhomme

Matt Schaub

Matt Cassel

Marc Bulger

Joe Flacco

Vick to the Redskins?

I believe that the Redskins should sign Vick.  They are the perfect team for him.  The team is already established and will have a huge fan base no matter what.  The higher than usual minority population will support Vick more than in other cities, and Vick is also somewhat local, as he is from southern Virginia.

Dan Snyder will get a lot of criticism if he signs Vick, but Snyder should not let that bother him.  People will talk about Snyder’s past signings of “fantasy” players, but those decisions are a sunk cost.  You can’t ignore Vick’s upside.

The Redskins have an established starter in Jason Campbell, but he still hasn’t proven that he is here to stay.  This is Campbell’s fifth season, so he will need to produce.  He has only been on average teams and has had several coaching changes in terms of offensive systems, but the time has come to be more consistent.  He has poise and a strong arm, but we’re still waiting for him to live up to his first round draft selection.

The Skins have two relatively weak backups.  Todd Collins is 37 and has started 3 games in the last 11 seasons.  Colt Brennan is a second year QB and former 6th round draft choice who played great in the preseason last year, but is unproven.   I actually think he has great potential, but it’s still too early to tell for sure.  The other QB on the Skins roster is Chase Daniel, a winner out of Missouri but a rookie who went undrafted.

Ironically, even though Vick is a huge name, the expectations are low for him – a lot of people are assuming he won’t play QB or if he will then he will only be a backup or a situational player.  Take away the off the field problems Vick had and there is no way the Redskins can afford not to sign Vick.  The upside that Vick has compared with the Redskins backups is much greater.  Expect the Redskins to sign Vick and for him to possibly play occasional series once the middle of the season gets here.

Again, obviously what Vick did with dogfighting was terrible, but he paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance.  That chance may be with the Washington Redskins.

***

Update August 8 – It appears unlikely that the Skins will sign Vick.  The league probably wants him to go to a small market like Green Bay, Kansas City, or St. Louis.  That way, the animal protest groups will have a harder time getting out there, whereas in DC they would have an easier time protesting.  Secondly, I have a feeling Snyder may be sensitive to the criticism of him signing big name players.  But those signings – and some worked out okay – are a sunk cost and Snyder or any other owner would be wise to consider someone like Vick who is likely better than their backup QBs and may eventually challenge for the starting job.  I think Minnesota makes sense.

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Art Monk and Darrell Green inducted in Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2008

July 29, 2009

By Mike Frandsen

A year ago I went up to Canton, Ohio to see former Washington Redskins wide receiver Art Monk inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  It was a long wait – eight  years after Monk was first eligible, he got in.  The good side of that is that Art learned how much the Redskins fans really supported him.  In fact, the support Monk garnered was unprecedented as far as athletes getting into a Hall of Fame.  I wrote an article stating that Art was truly worthy of being in the Hall of Fame at http://www.coachmike.net/artmonk.php.   There were many other articles, emails – even a highlight film.  All along, the vast majority of voters were for Monk – it was just a couple of influential voters who held him back, and they finally admitted they were wrong.

Darrell Green and Art MonkOf course, Darrell Green also made it.  He was a great cornerback for 20 years – a shut-down corner, and could have played even longer if he had wanted to, but I write this mainly about Monk, because he was my favorite player, and because he had to wait so long.  Monk was such a great team player, with a legendary work ethic, and was so humble, that sometimes it gets lost on people that he was simply one of the greatest wide receivers to ever play the game.

Monk held three NFL records at one time – most receptions in a career, most catches in a season, and most consecutive games with a catch.  He had seven playoff touchdowns for an amazing average of 25.5 yards per catch for those TDs, and the Skins were 4-1 in those games.  He had a game-changing 40-yard catch vs. the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII when the Skins were down 10-0 that helped change the course of the game, even though he was coming off an injury.  He had at least 38 catches of 40 yards or more.  He had the ultimate respect of his teammates and the players he played against.

Art Monk and his son James
Art Monk and his son James

The induction ceremony itself was amazing, and it was highlighted by Monk’s speech.  There was an unbelievable amount of electricity in the air when it came time for Monk’s speech.  The moment was finally here.  I snuck forward and stood right next to former Skins receivers Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders, who were there cheering on Monk. Monk was presented by his son. Monk’s standing ovation lasted more than five minutes and surely would have lasted longer had he allowed it to continue.  It was the greatest standing ovation I’ve ever seen.

“The reality of getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame didn’t really hit me till a few days ago,” Monk said.  “And then to see the magnitude of all of this, and all of you, it’s been something amazing.”

I felt a little bad for some of the other inductees – Gary Zimmerman, offensive lineman for the Broncos and Vikings; Fred Dean, defensive end for the Chargers and 49ers; Andre Tippett, linebacker for the Patriots; and Emmitt Thomas, cornerback for the Chiefs (and former Skins Assistant Coach) – because almost all the fans there were Redskins fans cheering for Monk and Green.HOF 093

Clark actually deserves to be in as well but the committee would never put another Redskins wide receiver in who played with Monk, although there is precedent as both Lynn Swann and John Stallworth of the Steelers are in.  In my previous blog entry, I note that Clark’s statistics were nearly identical to Michael Irvin’s, and Irvin got in several years ago.  In fact, it was insulting to see Irvin get in ahead of Monk, especially since Monk had more yards, catches, and touchdowns than Irvin, and Monk didn’t get to play with a Hall of Fame quarterback.  Anyway, it was great to see Clark, along with Sanders, cheering on Monk.

Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders Cheer on Monk
Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders Cheer on Monk

A bunch of former Redskins players and coaches made it to cheer on Monk and Green.  Here’s my unofficial list:

  • Gary Clark, Wide Receiver
  • Joe Gibbs, Coach
  • Tim Johnson, Defensive Tackle
  • Jim Lachey, Offensive Tackle
  • Charles Mann, Defensive End
  • Mark Moseley, Kicker
  • Mike Nelms, Kick Returner
  • Ricky Sanders, Wide Receiver
  • Joe Theismann, Quarterback
  • Rick “Doc” Walker, Tight End
  • Don Warren, Tight End

Two of the original Hogs, Tight Ends Don Warren and Rick "Doc" Walker
Two of the original Hogs, Tight Ends Don Warren and Rick “Doc” Walker

I’m sure there were a bunch of other players who were there that I didn’t see.  I was a little disappointed that John Riggins didn’t show up from the standpoint that he was the only other Redskins player in the Hall of Fame from those teams.  It’s pretty amazing that until last year, no other Redskins from those teams that went to four Super Bowls and won three between the 1982 and 1991 seasons made it in.  Especially because that 1991 team, though underappreciated by the national media, was one of the greatest teams of all time.  Excuse me while I sprain my arm patting myself on the back here:  On January 1, 2008, after the Patriots had completed their regular season undefeated, I wrote on www.coachmike.net, “The 1991 Redskins only outscored their opponents by 17 points a game, better than every team in history except for the 2007 Patriots and the 1985 Bears. (It’s unfair to compare the 2007 Patriots to the 1991 Redskins, though, because the Skins were so much better.”)

Me with former Skins Kick Returner Mike Nelms
Me with former Skins Kick Returner Mike Nelms

Anyway, it was cool seeing some of the former Redskins.  I saw former Skins kick returner Mike Nelms and got a photo with him.  I told him I remembered a punt he returned against the Eagles.  He didn’t score on the play but it was an unbelievable run.  He ran into a pack of defenders, it looked like he was down, and with just about the entire Eagles special teams surrounding him, he broke out of the pack and got an extra 20 yards.  Maybe it was my imagination, but mark Moseley had a look on his face like, “Why is he getting a photo with Nelms instead of me?”

Jim Lachey Redskins
With former Redskin Jim Lachey

I saw Redskins left tackle Jim Lachey after the ceremony and told him that he should be in the HOF too and he would be in a few years.  He thanked me and seemed like he genuinely appreciated it.  He was definitely good enough – anyone who is good enough to move Joe Jacoby from left tackle to right tackle was good enough – and Lachey had the athleticism to go along with size – he was the prototypical left tackle.  He helped QB Mark Rypien have a great season in 1991 that resulted in Rypien being Super Bowl MVP.  But in reality, Lachey probably won’t get in because his career was cut a little short because of injuries, and if any Hogs get in it’ll be Russ Grimm or Joe Jacoby.  I definitely think the Skins should have at least one representative from the Hogs – one of those three, maybe two.

After the ceremony, Skins fans went to the NFL Network set to support Monk and Green as they were interviewed along with Gibbs live on TV.  Art Monk on NFL Network SetFormer NFL Coach Steve Mariucci was there along with Michael Irvin for the NFL Network.  Mariucci seemed to be marveling at the fact that so many people were singing “Hail to the Redskins.”  The crowd was pretty hostile toward Irvin, but he took it in stride.   John Elway was there to support Gary Zimmerman – a few fans reminded Elway of the Skins win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.

Gary Clark watches Art Monk's Hall of Fame Induction Speech
Gary Clark watches Art Monk’s Hall of Fame Induction Speech

So the long wait is over.  Art Monk is in the Hall of Fame.  As I said when I finally finished my MBA to a few classmates, “Now what?”  What do we do now?  Even if the Skins get back to the Super Bowl several times like they did in the 80s and early 90s, it’ll never be the same because of free agency as well as the type of players the Skins had back then.

I think everyone should try to be more like Art Monk.  Great, but humble.Art Monk NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony