Michael Vick was called upon in a matter of three days to prepare for a major divisional rivalry matchup against the Baltimore Ravens for Pittsburgh when he made his first start with the team last Thursday night.
His 19 completions on 26 attempts for 124 yards and a touchdown was better than what many seemed to expect out of the 13-year veteran who had just joined the team late in the 2015 NFL preseason. Though his yards were not high, he never turned threw an interception or lost a fumble that would have put the Steelers' defense in a difficult position to have to hold the Ravens offense on a short field.
In fact, his numbers would have been even better were it not for a few mistakes from the Steelers' all-pro wide receiver, Antonio Brown, making some uncharacteristic miscues.
Vick tossed a perfect bomb to Brown on a corner route that was right into Brown's breadbasket for what would have been a touchdown, had Brown not let it slip through his fingers.
Brown rarely drops passes, but part of the the reasoning for those dropped passes comes from not having the experience and chemistry with Vick that Brown has developed with Ben Roethlisberger over the years. Something that Brown blames himself for in the team's second loss of the season.
"Last week, it just wasn't (Vick's) fault," Brown said to Kevin Patra of NFL.com. "There is a lot of blame on me. I left a lot of plays out there. All of us are getting more comfortable, not just him. I am more confident and comfortable this week with him."
That last part will be a crucial factor to the Steelers' hopes of defeating the San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. Brown has become an NFL superstar that Roethlisberger has come to rely on over the years because of his reliable hands, precise route running and uncanny playmaking abilities. Earlier this week Jeff Hartman reported on how ESPN's insiders voted Antonio Brown as the "toughest player to cover" in the NFL. Such a reputation has been well earned by Brown, who has led all NFL receivers in yardage coming into week four (DeAndre Hopkins took the lead with his early week five performance). Let us not forget Brown leading the league in in all receiving categories except touchdowns in 2014 and being the second leading receiver in 2013.
But Brown can't do it all by himself, he needs a quarterback who knows his tendencies and his capabilities. Brown became the third fastest player in NFL history to 400 receptions earlier this season because Roethlisberger knows just how good Brown can be and how to put a football in the best position for Brown to be able to make a play. That's not something that only Roethlisberger can do, but it is something that takes practice and time to develop.
Three days does not a symbiotic relationship make.
Now Vick has played a full game with Antonio Brown and has had an extra full week of practice considering the team had all last weekend after the Thursday night game and now a full week of practice that passes the weekend when the Steelers play on Monday night. So far Vick is appreciating the time he's getting with the offense.
"I feel so much better just having more time to practice, more time to build chemistry and learn the offense," Vick said to Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "I don't have anything else to do. The family is back in Florida, and it's just football. I kind of like it like this. It is a chance for me to get everything in order and do everything to help the team and serve my purpose."
While Vick still should not be expected to light up the scoreboard with 5 touchdown passes, his time with Brown, Le'Veon Bell and now Martavis Bryant could be just what he needed to feel more comfortable with the offense so that he can throw more passes on deeper routes to stretch the defense and hopefully make big plays for Pittsburgh en route to their 3rd victory of the 2015 season.