Quote: "The young have exalted notions, because they have not been humbled by life or learned its necessary limitations; moreover, their hopeful disposition makes them think themselves equal to great things – and that means having exalted notions. They would always rather do noble deeds than useful ones: Their lives are regulated more by moral feeling than by reasoning. … All their mistakes are in the direction of doing things excessively and vehemently. They overdo everything; they love too much, hate too much, and the same with everything else."
From Tony Dungy, writing for SI.com... I firmly believe Michael (Vick) deserves a second chance in life. I understand how appalling dog fighting is, and in no way do I condone it. But he was given a punishment that the court deemed appropriate, and now he exits prison having paid for that crime. It's time to let him bounce back after that loss. If we are willing to forgive Michael and take an honest look at the person who is leaving that prison, we might be surprised at what we see. We might see a man who says "I'm sorry" with his actions and not just his words. We might see a man who wants to get back to his three children and stop the cycle of young people growing up without a father to help them. Least important, we might see him play football again. I'm not sure of the Michael Vick(notes) we would see on the field, but I believe we would see a very different person off the field. That's what would be exciting to me.
These words from Dungy are strong and powerful. He's not a man to sugarcoat anything, and I'm confident that if Vick continues his relationship with Dungy, it will improve his chances of getting back in the league next year. If I were working for the Jacksonville Jaguars, I would pay very close attention to these words; I would monitor this situation closely every day.
Why is Jacksonville a good destination for Vick's return? Let's start with the football reasons.
Reason 1: Jacksonville needs a backup quarterback. Now, that's not very complicated to determine. The Jags recently signed Todd Bouman(notes) to compete with Cleo Lemon(notes). Vick is better than both players, even after missing two years of football. He needs to come to a team where he can get his feet wet, integrate into the system as a backup, then, after the season, compete for a starting job.
Reason 2: Dirk Koetter, the Jacksonville offensive coordinator, spent most of his career coaching in college and was the head coach at Boise State. He knows how to blend a player into a system, which is critical in at that level. Koetter has an extensive background in offensive football that would allow him to utilize Vick's skill set to the fullest. He is not labeled a pro offensive coach; he can bring different elements of the game into his offense.
The offense that benefits Vick is a non-traditional pro offense. I give Jim Mora huge props because when he was the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, he sent his offensive staff to the University of West Virginia to learn the spread attack. Mora was searching for ways to make his offense Vick-compatible. The perfect offense for Vick is not completely the Wildcat, but it must have some elements; it's not the West Virginia spread attack, but it must have some elements of that, too. And it's not the West Coast, but it must have some of those elements.
Side note: When I was with the "Hotel" (Oakland Raiders) and first saw how Vick impacted the league with his style of play, I wrote a profile for a personnel department about dealing with the "Vick Factor." Even though I was not working for a team that played Vick twice, I wanted to think like a team that would face him. You learn in the NFL by watching, observing and learning from other teams. Here are my notes:
1. Cannot draft, sign or bring anyone to camp on defense that cannot run. Before every signing, you must ask if the player can help us chase this person down. You play two games a year against this guy in perfect conditions. The weather and elements are not going to give you any help. Speed is your only solution to this problem.
2. Must lower your standards for speed in the secondary – especially at safety. Having a 4.7 safety is of no use when dealing with this player. Need to be diligent in demanding speed for the secondary. … Size/speed players will be your only answer to help solve this problem. The average size and speed of a safety in the league as a starter is 6-feet, 199 pounds, 4.53 40-yard dash. You are playing with two safeties that are well above the average speed.
3. Might want to consider playing a nickel defense all the time to deal with the speed. If you get beat with the running game, they will score only around 17-20 points, a manageable game – but it will force the ball out of his hands.
4. With their guards, you might want to consider playing all ends in the game to give you more speed. They will not be able to drive anyone off the ball no matter what personnel you play inside.
5. Might need to carry more linebackers next year, to think about a three-man line, thus allowing you to be able to play with more speed. Might want to create a package to deal with this team. A 3-4 defense does give you better athletic ability on the field, if the linebackers can run.
6. You will need more flexibility in your player core to ultimately help solve this problem. Design the scheme and then define the players that you need to fit the scheme, then go and get them. Do not worry about what you do not have; figure out what you need and then go and find it. With your ability to teach, once you identify the scheme solutions, you will find the players. It will make dealing with this player somewhat more manageable.
7. Need to keep a copy of all his runs on a reel, for the entire season, not just three games. Have a log of all runs, separated from when he goes left and when he goes right and when he attacks the middle.
8. Sign a practice squad player, college FA, or draft a player that has the size and the speed that would be similar to Vick. Even if the guy is a bad quarterback in college, and all the scouts hate him, get him so that he can give you some work in camp and during the season as to what it's like to chase this guy. Every scout will claim it's a wasted pick, but if it helps you get ready for Vick – it's a great pick.
9. Need to bring in someone for the week to run the scout team. He must be practice squad available and he has the arm and athletic ability to create some problems for your defense. He is not Vick, but he would give a good look to simulate the speed of the game.
Reason 3: Having Mike Tice as the offensive line coach would help the Jags design an offensive protection scheme for Vick. Tice has been around players similar to Vick who are not classic pocket passers (Randall Cunningham) and has been able to find ways to make it work. Adaptable coaches on an offensive staff will benefit teams that want to find ways to utilize Vick. The Jags' offensive staff features some very fine coaches who have been involved in college football most of their careers – quarterbacks coach Mike Shula, running backs coach Kennedy Pola and wide receivers coach Todd Monken. Having this background will help them to be adaptable in dealing with Vick.
Reason 4: If Vick is the backup, starter David Garrard(notes) will feel the pressure to improve his play. The Jags struggled in every area of offense last year, from dropped passes to converting third downs in the red zone (they finished 29th, averaging 27.3 percent). They struggled to score, struggled to make big plays and struggled to protect the passer.
Reason 5: The Maurice Jones-Drew(notes) factor. One of the most versatile players in the NFL, Jones-Drew can do it all in extremely well. But where he benefits a player like Vick is in the passing game. He can pass protect and he can catch the ball short or long and make big plays. In addition, his style of play spreads the field, making teams defend the width of the field. It's when the width of the field is spread out that Vick becomes like a great point guard in the NBA penetrating into the paint.
Now, the off-the-field reasons:
Reason 1: The Jaguars are located in an area of the country that Vick is familiar with since Jacksonville is close to southern Georgia. He needs to go to a town where he can remain in the background, avoiding any potential for trouble. He would be close to Atlanta and Hampton, Va., which would allow him to do his civic obligations as he attempts to rebuild his career. He must not lose touch with his roots.
Reason 2: Jacksonville owner Wayne Weaver is in need of some national attention, although this might be negative attention. The Jags have had trouble selling out games in recent years, partly because of the economy and partly because of the team.
With each decision you make in the NFL, you must weigh the risk-reward factor.
From my chair, the reward for signing Vick far outweighs the risk for Jacksonville.
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