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Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Football Scientist: Vick's luck may run out

By Dan Graziano

As you've probably figured out by now, I'm not a huge metrics guy when it comes to covering the NFL. That said, I've always admired the work of KC Joyner, a.k.a. the Football Scientist. In his latest column for our ESPN Insiders, Joyner suggests that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick's numbers have been somewhat misleading during this remarkable season.

In fact, Joyner has looked at metrics and game video that indicate Vick should've thrown eight interceptions by now instead of none. If you buy into KC's research, Vick's passer rating should look more like Matt Schaub's and Josh Freeman's. I'm not allowed to share the entire column with everyone, but I'm circumvented the rules to bring you a small yet unforgettable excerpt:
The game-video analysis shows him as having made 12 bad decisions in 202 dropbacks (The dropbacks in this case include plays that were nullified by penalties but do not include spiked passes or sacks.)," writes Joyner. "That equates to a 5.9 percent bad-decision rate. That means one out of every 17 passes Vick has thrown this season have been unnecessarily risk-laden.

To put that total into perspective, consider that Chicago Bears fans were almost ready to run Jay Cutler out of town last season in large part because of his risk-taking, and he posted a bad-decision rate of 3.4 percent. Vick's current rate is nearly 75 percent higher.

Joyner has gone where no other NFL writer's willing go in suggesting that Vick's success might be based more on good fortune than his brilliant play. And to compare Vick to the ridiculous Jay Cutler will make it tough for KC to return to Philadelphia in the near future.

Vick's on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week (jinx alert!), and he's become perhaps the most compelling story of the 2010 season. But here comes Joyner poking holes in Superman's game. He goes on to talk about Vick's durability issues, saying the quarterback's efficiency took a steep dive after he started getting hit by Giants defenders in the second half of Sunday's game.

The Bears are second in the league in interceptions, so it will be interesting to see if the odds/metrics finally catch up with Vick. I'll see if Joyner will give out an e-mail address in case any Eagles fans would like to contact him and have a friendly discussion.

And let's make sure Vick sees this blog entry. He's been tweeting a ton this week, so I bet he'll have a response for Joyner. Have a wonderful evening.