The Pittsburgh Steelers met with quarterback Michael Vick on Tuesday in the wake of Brad Gradkowski's in-game injury to his finger that required surgery. Though Landry Jones' performance against the Green Bay Packers in the second preseason game was not dismal, he was a long way from looking like a true NFL quarterback. With the release of Tajh Boyd, the only other option after Jones has been Tyler Murphy, who had an astoundingly good game at WR. His versatility could earn him a spot on the final roster or on the practice squad, but it seems the Steelers have another idea in mind.
Steelers fans have commented on the availability of Michael Vick for weeks, and Tuesday it became clear he has been on the front office's radar as well. Is Michael Vick a good fit for the Black and Gold?
Michael Vick has a lot of NFL experience having been in the league since 2001 with a brief hiatus due to his incarceration for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring (more on that later.) Unlike Landry Jones, he has played in many games-- 138 to be exact. Having played with the Falcons, Eagles, and Jets, Vick is also familiar with a variety of offensive systems. Who would have imagined he could run a West Coast offense based on what we saw of him with the Atlanta Falcons?
At 35, Vick is fourteen years removed from being the Falcons first-round pick after only two years at Virginia Tech. He did not play particularly well last season when he was with the Jets, but he also did not see much playing time. That does not mean he is rusty, but at 35, he is far past his prime. If Vick sees playing time this year, he probably won't be the fleet-footed, tailback-like player we saw flashes of when he was at the peak of his career.
The biggest controversy about Vick doesn't involve his accuracy, on-field decision making, or inability to lead a team to a championship of any sort. The name Michael Vick is inextricably linked to the 2006 dog-fighting scandal that landed him in federal prison. Who didn't make some sort of dog joke after hearing the news that Vick would be meeting with the Steelers?
While the scandal provided the opportunity for a comeback-- his 2010 season with the Eagles was stellar-- the dogfighting saga is still a source of distraction, derision, and disdain.
As one of the more polarizing figures in professional football, Vick has to have felt the intense scrutiny and pressure of someone in his position. Perhaps coming to the Steelers as a back up and being part of an organization that is not generally a hotbed of over-inflated egos and larger-than-life personalities, will allow Vick to finally meet expectations. And, as a backup in 2015, expectations are far different than they were when he was a heavily touted first-round pick in the 2001 draft.
Vick brings even more unknowns than he did earlier in his career. He could be a difference maker, throwing and running for touchdowns with grace, or a total disaster, moving the ball in the wrong direction via fumbles and avoidable sacks. If Roethlisberger needs a back up, at least with Vick there is the potential of brilliant play instead of painfully inadequate novice-level attempts from Landry Jones.
Two questions are equally valid here: Is Michael Vick ready for Pittsburgh? Is Pittsburgh ready for Michael Vick?