September 30, 2010
You have to imagine that former Falcons and Seahawks head coach Jim Mora is a bit frustrated with the current amount of Michael Vick(notes) love spreading across the televisions, radios and collective interwebs of the American football landscape. Mora had Vick in Atlanta from 2004 through 2006, and though those teams led the NFL in rushing each season, only the first season saw the Falcons finish over .500 -- in part because Mora and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp couldn't get Vick to play like a "real" quarterback. Back then, the game plan was to set Vick out on a bunch of simple speed-read option stuff as he let his athleticism do the work. And that didn't require a complex playbook, to say the least.
Now, after all of Vick's legal travails, and a year of working his way back into the NFL, he's become the toast of the league with his quarterbacking skills. Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are getting the credit for this that Mora and Knapp never did, and deservedly so. The transformation has been remarkable.
You could see this defensiveness when Brian Billick recently asked Mora about Vick on the NFL Network during the Wednesday episode of "Total Access" -- Mora seemed to be more concerned with what Vick did under his "tutelage." "I saw him do great things in Atlanta," Mora told Billick. "Remember now, he went to three Pro Bowls when he was with the Falcons, and people don't talk a lot about that!"
Mora's Thursday morning appearance on ESPN radio with host Doug Gottlieb displayed his insecurity on this subject in much sharper relief. Gottlieb started the portion of the interview, seen on the video below, with a perfectly reasonable question -- does it bum Mora out that Vick didn't buy into the playbook as much when he was in Atlanta? As you can see, that's pretty much all it took for Mora to start his bittersweet symphony all over again. The highlight is when he asks Gottlieb, "Is this your first interview?" and ends the spot with, "You were a real joy -- thanks." Gottlieb was stunned by the invective, and I can't say I blame him. Nothing in this interview from his side seemed destined to elicit an angry response from a reasonable individual.
One quick note: Mora was not fired by the Falcons for anything Vick did on or off the field; if anything, the stuff Vick was doing in Atlanta should have provided an ironclad out clause from any blame Mora might accept for the team's disappointing results in 2005 and 2006. Mora was actually fired after he went on Seattle radio station KJR and said (while he was still Atlanta's head coach!) that if the Washington Huskies head coaching job that was then filled by Tyrone Willingham ever came open, Mora would be "at the friggin' head of the line" to coach his alma mater "even if [the Falcons] were on a playoff run."
Which proves one thing beyond a reasonable doubt: When you get Jim Mora the Younger on your radio show, it's a fair bet that some sort of jackassery is soon to follow.
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