In the clear
Schaub trade offers Vick quiet vote of confidence
Posted: Friday March 30, 2007 2:23PM; Updated: Friday March 30, 2007 2:23PM
Musings, observations, and the occasional insight in the wake of this week's rather uneventful NFL annual meeting in Arizona ...
As much as I was impressed by the Falcons' ability to extract so much from Houston in exchange for backup quarterback Matt Schaub last week, I still think the real winner in the deal was Michael Vick, who no longer has to contend with the specter of Schaub's looming presence in Atlanta.
Every No. 2 quarterback to some degree embodies an empty vessel of hope and projection, and without Schaub around, Falcons fans, the media, and maybe even first-year Atlanta head coach Bobby Petrino can't scratch the itch that a potential quarterback controversy always presents.
With no drumbeat for Schaub building in the background, doesn't it stand to reason that Vick's somewhat tender psyche has to be strengthened? Let's face it, the perception that Vick and his struggling passing game would be on a shorter leash this year was going to be part of the backdrop in Atlanta if Schaub had returned for a fourth season.
But Falcons general manager Rich McKay this week wasn't buying the vote of confidence for Vick factor inherent in the Schaub trade. Not in the least. McKay could have been merely echoing the "In Michael We Trust'' company line that has now officially been adopted in Atlanta -- because at this point, why not? -- but he refutes the notion that the Schaub trade was intended to send any message to Vick. Either overtly or tacitly.
"Despite what people write and say, Mike is our starting quarterback, and has been our starting quarterback, and we're very happy to have him,'' McKay said. "We're committed to Mike, and I hope Mike, and I think Mike knows that. So I don't think anything changed that way. It might be good for the public's perception, in case the public has any different perception. But there shouldn't have been that perception (of a short leash this season). We clearly want to make it known.''
In discussing Vick's shortcomings in the passing game at last month's NFL Scouting Combine, Petrino came out and talked about needing to balance out the Falcons offense this season, and how he hopes Vick never again rushes for a 1,000-yard season. But McKay this week took a different tact, insisting that Vick's record-breaking season on the rushing front was an outgrowth of the sixth-year quarterback following the game plans authored by the previous Falcons coaching staff.
Sounds to me as if the prevailing spin in Falcon-land is to absolve Vick of as much responsibility for the team's passing game problems as possible, with the idea being that Petrino will finally solve the riddle of how to best use No. 7's unique blend of athletic talents. That's the whole ball of wax this year in Atlanta, isn't it?
"The guy had a year where he rushed for 1,000 yards, the first quarterback in the history of the NFL to do that,'' McKay said. "And he did it because we asked him to do it. In other words, we designed it that way and he carried it out. It didn't end up translating to as many wins as we'd like, but he executed what he was asked to execute.''
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