Three weeks into the 2010 NFL season, one of the biggest stories is Michael Vick, and this time he’s making headlines for all the right reasons.
Since emerging as a star quarterback with Virginia Tech a decade ago, Vick has had enough ups and downs to warrant a miniseries. He was a top NCAA player, then the No. 1 pick of the 2001 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons. He was a riveting quarterback who had a rifle arm, but with his speed and elusiveness, he became a highlight-reel regular for his electric runs. He made the Pro Bowl three times, even as NFL eggheads pointed out that he wasn’t an efficient quarterback.
Then, three-and-a-half years ago, he was implicated in an illegal dogfighting circuit. He pleaded guilty to felony charges, served 21 months and was suspended by the NFL. After doing his time, he was reinstated by the NFL in Week 3 of the season last year, but he was the third quarterback of three with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He moved up a notch after the Eagles traded incumbent starter Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins. Then, in the very first week of the season, he was thrust into the starting role when quarterback Kevin Kolb suffered a concussion. Vick’s performance since then has been nothing short of amazing. In Week 1, he led a rally that fell short in a 27-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers. In Week 2, Vick quarterbacked his team to a 35-32 win over the Detroit Lions. Then, last Sunday, he threw three touchdown passes and ran for another in an Eagles 28-3 romp over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Vick has led winning teams before — his 2004 Atlanta Falcons went to the NFC Championship game — but this time it’s how Vick is winning. He’s become the quarterback that the pundits thought he couldn’t be: He’s played smart and efficient football. Vick has completed 60.8 percent of his passes, and his 8.3-yards-per-pass attempt is startling.
During his six seasons as a signal caller in Atlanta, Vick never completed more than 55 percent of his passes in a season and topped 6.5 yards per attempt only once, in his second year. He has thrown six touchdown passes and no interceptions. In six years with the Falcons, he threw for 71 scores and was picked off 52 times.