PHILADELPHIA -- Even when numbers aren’t lying, they don’t always tell the whole truth.
The numbers say Michael Vick is holding the football 4.3 seconds per dropback, as measured from the moment he receives it to the moment he releases it. According to ESPN Stat & Information, that number is tied for the longest release time in the NFL, and is a half-second longer than the 3.8 seconds Vick held the ball on average in 2012.
For perspective’s sake, Peyton Manning is getting the ball out in 2.35 seconds on average.
When asked about the issue, Vick did not mince words.
“I am not holding the ball too long,” Vick said. “Don’t try to make that an issue. It’s not. Whoever says I’m holding the ball is wrong. They need to go watch the film.”
So what gives? The numbers say no other quarterback is holding the ball as long, right? Are the numbers lying?
It’s important to look at how the numbers are reached. If Vick catches the snap from center, scans the field for three seconds, gets forced out of the pocket and rolls out, slowly looking for someone to come open, that can take six or seven seconds. Those plays drive his average time up, but that ability is one of his strengths.
He held the ball for 4.5 seconds on one of the best plays he made Sunday in Denver, for example. Vick took a shotgun snap, set his feet, then started rolling out to his left. With a defender in his face, he threw a 15-yard pass to Riley Cooper along the sideline.
On that play, holding the ball for 4.5 seconds certainly wasn’t holding it too long. According to Pro Football Focus, Vick has been pressured on the highest percentage of dropbacks and his throws have been deeper, on average, than any other NFL quarterback.
Chip Kelly famously likes his quarterbacks to get the ball out quickly -- ideally in under three seconds. That takes quick-developing routes, open receivers, decent pass protection and good quarterback reaction time.
Vick is responsible for only one of those elements.
“I play within the offense,” Vick said. “I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing.”