Michael Vick sure seems to enjoy being a quarterback, but there are two aspects of throwing a football that he doesn’t find especially thrilling: getting drilled after he’s thrown said football, and getting injured.
For the record, we don’t blame him. Many jobs require employees to work under a strict deadline, and Vick’s occupation is certainly no exception. While standing in the pocket he has four, maybe five seconds tops to either deliver the ball to a receiver, tuck and run, or throw it away. Often it’s less than that, especially with the leaky offensive line Vick plays behind.
Imagine that there’s one last stack of paperwork on your desk before that magical home time hour, and you have to finish it in five seconds or else Jared Allen will plant his shoulder into your larynx. This is why we watch football on Sundays, and don’t ever, ever play.
Vick does play, and after suffering a hand contusion Sunday during Philly’s loss to the Giants he was candid about his displeasure with the officials, hinting at the possibility that his unique athletic style leads to a lack of protection in the pocket from the rule book.
In his mind he hasn’t been getting the same calls and the same delicate protection afforded to other quarterbacks, and Vick knew something “catastrophic” was going to happen.
“Everybody saw the game. I was on the ground constantly. All of the time. Every time I throw the ball in all my highlights and just watching film in general, every time I throw the ball I’m on the ground, getting hit in the head and I don’t know why. I don’t get the 15-yard flags like everybody else does but hey- I’m not going to complain about it. I’m just making everybody aware and hopefully somebody will take notice.”
Ummm actually Mike, you do get those flags. In fact, according to ESPN’s Trey Wingo since the beginning of the 2010 season no team in the NFC East has benefited from more roughing the passer calls than the Eagles.
But Vick’s complaint was a little more specific than that. He noted that over the past three weeks he hasn’t seen enough yellow hankies flying in the Eagles backfield. This is a trend that’s apparently so 2011 in Philadelphia, as if perhaps Vick had a one-year amnesty period that recently concluded.
The reality is much more boring, and truthful. Reality sucks like that.
So far in the 2011 season 47 games have been played, and officials have thrown a flag for a roughing the passer call 24 times. Vick has benefited from one of those penalty flags (Week 1 against St. Louis). On the surface that may seem paltry considering how often he’s hit, but Vick has still benefited from the safe haven provided by an official more times than over half the league this season. He isn’t behind, he’s ahead, and all it took was one flag because roughing the passer isn’t called nearly as often as what’s widely believed.
In a league currently on pace to have about 256 roughing the passer calls in 2011, only 13 quarterbacks have been on the receiving end of one through three weeks. Kyle Orton is blazing a steady pace, and has drawn a roughing the passer call each week so far. Others who’ve benefited from at least two include Cam Newton, Colt McCoy, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Jay Cutler.
Some quarterbacks like Cutler and Orton receive calls out of sheer volume. They’re pocket-passers with below average mobility playing behind weak offensive lines (the bears are tied for the league lead in sacks allowed with 14). If you get enough shots at a sitting duck, eventually you’ll rip its beak off by accident.
But the inclusion of Newton and others with at least above average mobility (McCoy, Tarvaris Jackson, Jason Campbell, Sam Bradford) drives a wedge into the perception of bias against mobile quarterbacks. Established veterans or perennial league leaders aren’t favored either, with Tom Brady, Matt Schaub, Drew Brees, Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Hasselbeck among the names who haven’t seen a roughing the passer flag.
Vick is understandably frustrated after leaving a game for the second straight week with an injury. But his frustration should be vented behind close doors towards an offensive line that’s consistently allowing the franchise quarterback to get creamed.
Some anger can be directed at the front office too, a group that acted like a kid with his first credit card during free agency, but still forgot to come home with the milk mom asked for by leaving Vick with that feeble offensive line.
Let the officials do the officiating though, Mike. You’re better off just playing quarterback.