The Pittsburgh Steelers fanbase lost its collective mind on Tuesday when it was announced that QB Michael Vick was signed on as the newest member of the Black and Gold. With Landry Jones failing to prove his competence as an NFL quarterback and Bruce Gradkowski put on IR, Michael Vick will be the man tasked with filling in for Ben Roethlisberger if he were to be lost for any amount of time due to injury.
Signed to a one-year contract, the 35-year old NFL veteran spent nearly two years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to involvement in a dog fighting ring in 2007. Scores hate him because of his crimes, and just as many have enjoyed witnessing his comeback. Mike Tomlin commented on Vick's past, saying, "Rest assured he's done a lot since he's gone through some of the things he's gone through." I'm not sure coach Tomlin's words are enough to help the people of Steelers Nation rest easy.
Aside from his past crimes and subsequent resurgence, however, Vick is still a polarizing figure based on his on-field record. Dating back to his time at Virginia Tech, Vick's style of play was simultaneously enthralling and terrifying. Enthralling because the man can dart around on a field like a squirrel avoiding traffic on a highway. Terrifying because Vick, in addition to being prodigiously athletic and dynamic, also has some glaring deficiencies. Years in the NFL did not improve Vick's ability to accurately target his receivers and anticipate the movements of defenders.
Analysts and fans waited for it to finally "click" for Michael Vick, assuming his development into a more refined, thoughtful player was inevitable and that he would become one of the most dominant quarterbacks of his era. Instead, he continued to make the same mistakes throughout his career, and failed to make improvements that would set him apart. The man of whom it was written in a draft report, "Considered by many to be the most exciting player in college football," never did become the most exciting player in the NFL.
At this point in Vick's career, nobody is expecting he will figure out how to be truly elite. People know that Michael Vick will occasionally make dumb passes and other plays that reflect either confusion or inattentiveness. Nonetheless, Mike Tomlin seemed pleased with the newest member of the Black and Gold saying via ESPN, "There's not a throw on the field he can't make from an arm strength stand point. He's a very experienced guy at what he does at this point in his career. And obviously the mobility is still unique even at 35."
Obviously, just because Mike Tomlin is pleased with Vick does not mean that the fan base will welcome him with open arms. He does not need a particularly warm welcome, however. He just needs to be tolerated. After all, Vick isn't joining the Steelers as the face of the franchise. Instead, his job will be to sit on the sidelines and fill in effectively if Roethlisberger needs a backup.
Meanwhile between reactions to Landry Jones' first few preseason games and Michael Vick's arrival to the Steelers, it is safe to say that at QB the Steelers have the most depth.... in terms of drama.