So how would Dan Reeves defend Vick?
November, 18, 2010
By Matt Mosley | ESPN.com
Hunter Martin/Getty ImagesMichael Vick's record-breaking performance against the Redskins proved he's once again one of the most dangerous players in the NFL.Like any other fan, former coach Dan Reeves sat on his couch Monday night and marveled at what Eagles quarterback Michael Vick did to the Washington Redskins in a 59-28 win. With his record-breaking performance, Vick inserted himself into the MVP conversation and served further notice that his remarkable comeback could be the story of the 2010 season.
Reeves has a unique perspective on Vick because he traded up to No. 1 in the 2001 draft to select Vick and made him the face of the Atlanta Falcons franchise. Even when Vick was sent to prison for running a dogfighting ring, Reeves was convinced that his former quarterback would once again star in the league. And that's why he's not shocked that Vick has regained his superstar status at age 30. Reeves has coached in seven Super Bowls with the Cowboys, Broncos and Falcons, so he's not easily impressed.
"I've seen [Roger] Staubach, [John] Elway and Michael Vick make you scratch your head and wonder what you just saw," Reeves told me Thursday morning. "I can remember Mike going to Minnesota [in Dec. 2002] and him running for nearly 200 yards . You just don't see those types of things on a normal basis."
Vick's next test will come against a New York Giants team coming off an embarrassing 33-20 loss at home to Jon Kitna and the Dallas Cowboys. Nothing against the 38-year-old Kitna, but it's not as if he requires a defensive spy at this (or any other) point in his career. The Giants are claiming that Vick's not unbeatable, but there's plenty of evidence to the contrary when you look at the four games -- all wins -- that the quarterback has started and finished. Some would say that's too small of a sampling to place a man in the MVP race, but I'd suggest those folks take another peek at his performance against the Redskins, who looked like they were an Atari game system to Vick's Madden 11. (I'm still partial to Intellivision).
Reeves and Vick have remained close throughout the quarterback's struggles. Reeves sent Vick a congratulatory text after Monday's game, to which Vick responded, "Thanks. I'm going to keep working to get better every day." Vick has said numerous times that he didn't work hard enough when he was with the Falcons and that he's now making up for lost time. His former head coach said he didn't have an issue with Vick's work ethic during his three seasons with him in Atlanta, although it always bothered him that the quarterback wanted to spend the offseason in Virginia rather than working out at the team's facility. Reeves had been warned by Vick's college coaches at Virginia Tech to keep a close eye on Vick's associates, so that's exactly what he did when the quarterback was in town.
I think one of the things Reeves regrets most about being forced out during the '03 season in Atlanta is that he lost the chance to continue mentoring Vick. He knew that Vick was one of the most unusual players in the history of the game, and he wanted the opportunity to see what the two of them could accomplish. On Thursday, I asked him to put on his coaching hat and come up with the best way to defend Vick.
AP Photo/Paul BattagliaDan Reeves said opponents never came up with an effective way to stop Vick when he was coaching the QB.
"I'd try to make sure he had a bad pregame meal, so he couldn't play," Reeves deadpanned. "I'd hate to defend him. It's just a nightmare. The offensive line looks so much better because guys are scared to death to get out of their lanes. And he has unbelievably strong legs, so even if you get to him, he can run through you. And the other thing is that he has one of the quickest releases I've ever seen. Honestly, no one really came up with a way to stop him during the short time I was with him."
That's why Reeves would have to chuckle at some of the bravado coming out of the Giants' locker room this week. It's almost as though they're trying to convince themselves that stopping Vick is a possibility. And given the Giants' record of knocking quarterbacks out of games -- five at last count -- maybe there's some validity to what they're saying.
Giants safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant have set the tone this week in trying to suggest that Vick's an actual human. But you'd have a hard time convincing their Washington counterpart, LaRon Landry, of that after Monday's game. Perhaps Landry wasn't counting on Vick's delivering a ball 63 yards in the air to DeSean Jackson on the first play from scrimmage, but he should've been.
"Ain't nobody Superman out on that field," said Grant per ESPNNewYork.com. "Vick is just like me, ain't won no Super Bowls yet."
With all due respect to Grant, Vick's not like anyone in the league right now. And I hear he's planning to pack the cape for Sunday's game after reading that quote.