Friday, July 17, 2009

Mike Vick to the Rams? Part 2

So guess what? Jamie Dukes of the NFL Network just reignited the rumors about Michael Vick going to the Rams. In a lengthy discussion with Solomon Wilcots about Michael Vick's future, Dukes stated that he believes Vick makes sense for the Rams because:
  1. The Rams don't have a backup
  2. The Rams have a questionable situation with Marc Bulger.
  3. Vick is weapon who can help... presumably a lot
  4. Rams general manager Billy Devaney is the guy who drafted Vick at the Falcons
I hate to sound snarky, but how much to you think Devaney regretted making that selection when Dogfight-Gate went down in Atlanta some two years ago? I really don't intend that to be a snarky zinger. I mean this as a serious question. There is no reason to suppose that Devaney is still in love with Vick, if he ever was. I was always under the impression that Vick was chosen by Coach Dan Reeves. In his many interviews with NFL Films, Reeves has always made it sound that way. Further, when the Titanic hit the iceberg in Atlanta, you have to suppose Devaney was second guessing himself (kicking himself in the ass) for drafting Vick.

No slight is intended to Dukes. Do you know that Jamie Dukes is my favorite analyst in the NFL network? I think Dukes almost always has the most accurate take on just about every subject. If he were a QB, he'd have a completion rate of about 93%. Of course, I like Solomon Wilcots also. He's a hell of an analyst. He is an L.A. kid who grew up a fan of the Rams, so we have something in common there.

Because Dukes said it, I actually sat up on my couch suddenly listened like hell. This is not the sort of guy who would drop a bullshit rumor. Wilcots rejected the argument claiming that Vick will not be welcomed by any team where he might create controversy. Only teams with a stable QB situation will welcome Vick to the club. This would eliminate St. Louis, as Bulger is questionable.

Well, after considering this for an hour now, let me tell you what I think:
  1. Spagnuolo is entirely focused on building team character.
  2. Team character, perseverance, integrity, and courage has been a persistent problem for the Rams, with a brief respite during the glory of the team Dick Vermeil built.
  3. Vick may be a reformed man. He may have a humble and contrite spirit. He may be ready to go bigger than ever because of this attitude adjustment. Still, bringing him in would send precisely the wrong message to the team. It would say that almost anything will be tolerated if you can help us on the field.
  4. This is how you develop bad character problems. This kind of message causes a team to spiral out of control
  5. I think that the team with the worst QB situation in the NFL is the most likely team to sign Vick.
  6. I think Vick's greatest incentive is to sign with the team having the worst QB problems in the NFL. This is how you become a starter again quickly. This is how you get a nice sized contract. I am not talking about a giant contract either, but one large enough to get out of bankruptcy.
  7. If you think the Rams have the worst QB situation in NFL, you're on crack. We're not even close to the bottom.
  8. Denver, Buffalo, Oakland, Minnesota, Tampa, and San Francisco are all far worse off than the St. Louis Rams.
  9. I remind you that Bulger made it to two Pro Bowls under Mike Martz, and was considered the franchise savior after... we let Warner go. Don't make me cry. Bulger also lit the Pro Bowl with 5 TDs and was elected the MVP by the winning side. Of course, nobody cares about this.
  10. I have said repeatedly that Bulger has been killed by our formerly dreadful line. I can't count the times he has been hit in the face on a blitz up the middle on a quick 3 step drop. Why do you think the first priority was to grab an expensive free-agent center like Jason Brown? Because we had to stop the blitz up the middle. Why do you think we drafted Jason Smith with the #2 pick in the entire draft? Because we had to lock down either the right or left tackle.
  11. Hopefully, our line will be substantially better this year, and Bulger will return to form.
  12. If not, we will select Tim Tebow next year. We'll get a franchise QB and great character also.
What about Farve in Minnesota? I wish Brett well, however, if he comes back this time, his Ironman streak is toast. As I said, the Vikings have a far worse situation than the Rams. The Vikings would be better served if they got Vick.

Now, what if the Rams acquired Michael Vick? What happens then? Well, there would be a controversy. Some fans would be irate. Some would want to start him immediately. It would divide the locker room. Bulger would probably fail in this situation. For Vick, this could potentially be an ideal situation. He can't wear number 7, but he would have a powerful running back behind him. He would have the West Coast Offensive he once talked about wanting to run. He would have a revamped offensive line that would be strong enough to give the scrambler sufficient protection to avoid a sack.

Setting aside the vicious locker room politics this would create, the Rams would also have a guy who could potentially run the West Coast well. Vick always believed that he could be the second coming of Steve Young. He's left handed. He has an arm just as strong as Young. He can run even better than Young could. That is saying a hell of a lot, but it is true.

To be quite frank with you, Bill Walsh's offense doesn't work so well anymore. This is why nobody plays it in the pure form these days. Today, no NFL defense concedes the short pass. The quick slant, the shallow cross, and the dump off are all contested plays these days. To make the West Coast work, you must throw the ball deep and get the big play. Defenses cannot be allowed to guard a 40 yard box against you. To break the 40 yard box defense, you must throw it deeper than 40 yards. The deep pass is now a necessary addition to the West Coast. Bulger can do this. So can Michael Vick.

However, to make the 49er offense really, really, really dynamic, you have to have a QB who can run. The 49er offense was never more powerful, never to be feared more, never more dynamic than under Steve Young. If you covered his short guys with a 40 yard box, he went deep. If you covered his short and his deep guys, he simply took off and ran with the balll... 65 yards to the end zone.

There is a serious school of thought out there that thinks only Vick has a prayer of doing what Young did. Vick is the only mobile south-paw who can throw. Like Young, he stood accused of being a throwing tailback. Like Young, he might breath some new life in an aging system that doesn't work so well anymore without dynamic talent.

I must admit, that vision of the 1992 San Francisco offense up and running in St. Louis are passing through my head. However, I think it will be another mobile Southpaw named Tebow who will do this eventually.

So what do I ultimately think? I think the Rams are not going to do it. If they do do this, they better cut or trade Bulger. That won't happen because Bulger has a giant contract. It would be a massive salary cap hit to cut him, and no team will take that contract. It is cheaper to keep him, and not on the bench. The Rams have cash flow problems that aren't helped any by recession, inheritance taxes, and rumors that they are going to move back to Los Angeles. The money factor makes any move at QB extremely unlikely this year.

This is why Spagnuolo already met with Bulger and assured him that he is the starting QB in St. Louis in 2009. He has no reason to fear for his job.