Ron Jaworski continued his QB countdown today, naming Michael Vick his 12th-ranked signal-caller in the NFL.
Vick landed ahead of guys like Matt Schaub (13), Matthew Stafford (14) and Cam Newton (15).
During the segment on ESPN's SportsCenter, Jaworski discussed Vick's running ability and how it hurts him at times as a passer.
"The issue I have always had with Vick has been his willingness to run, to play the position outside of the pocket, outside of the structure of the offense," Jaworski said. "There’s no question he’ll always make plays, but he also leaves throws on the field."
Jaws then showed a play against the Buffalo Bills where Vick took off to run, despite having a clean pocket from which to throw the football. He was tackled after a short gain, while the film showed he had Jason Avant wide open in the middle of the field.
As I've written about at length here, deciding when to run will be something Vick continuously works on until his career is over. The official stats show that Vick ran 76 times for 589 yards last season. That averages out to 5.8 runs per game and 7.8 yards per attempt.
But I dug deeper into the numbers this offseason and found that 53 of those runs were improvised, meaning they occurred on plays that were originally designed for Vick to pass. So he took off to run on pass plays about 4.1 times per game. He averaged 10.2 yards per carry on those improvised runs, which is a huge number, but it's important to remember he was also sacked 23 times.
According to Jaws, Vick was hit more than 11 times per game.
"Vick always reminds me of something my former coach Dick Vermeil says: The problem with quarterbacks who can run is they run," he said.
Jaws also brought up a point that we probably don't discuss often enough: Vick has shown that he can make plays from the pocket.
"Vick has shown he is capable of throwing the ball exceptionally well from the pocket," Jaworski said. "His overall throwing skill set can be top five in the league. His objective in 2012 must be to play that way more often. It becomes an availability issue. You can’t be an elite NFL quarterback if you can’t be counted on every single week."
Earlier this week, I wrote about how Vick performed last year against different kinds of pressure. Many readers probably focused on his numbers against the blitz, but take a look at Vick's numbers when teams only rushed three: 31-for-40 for 470 yards. He was deadly (77.5 percent completions, 11.8 yards per attempt) when he felt comfortable sitting in the pocket and was not worried at all about the pass rush. Even though teams had eight defenders in coverage, Vick effectively found targets and delivered the ball accurately.
Jaws seemed confident that Vick can take another step in his development this offseason and lead the Eagles to big things in 2012.
"A more disciplined player will result in fewer turnovers," he said. "I would not be surprised if we’re getting ready to see the best year of Vick’s 10-year career."