Steelers can survive with Michael Vick

Can Michael Vick fill the shoes of top-ranked PFF QB Ben Roethlisberger for three-to-four weeks?

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Don Wright)

(AP Photo/Don Wright)

Steelers can survive with Michael Vick


Through three weeks of the season, Ben Roethlisberger (+16.0) is PFF’s top-graded quarterback, owning a league-best +15.7 pass grade. After suffering an unfortunate MCL sprain in Week 3 against St. Louis, however, the Steelers turn to backup Michael Vick for the next few weeks.

Through Week 3, Ben’s 75.3 completion rate and 10.2 yards per attempt are best among QBs who have played at least 50 percent of their team’s snaps. It’s not like he’s throwing checkdown routes either—his 68.1 yards in air rate (YIA) is second only to Jameis Winston (68.3 percent). Furthermore, he’s the second-most accurate QB when throwing without, and while under, pressure, at 82.6 percent and 68.8 percent, respectively.

It’s tough to use Vick’s 2014 numbers with the Jets as an accurate measuring stick, so let’s first look at how he did in the preseason with the Steelers. He did have a 100 percent accuracy rate on 16 dropbacks, and connected on his only pass traveling more than 20 yards in the air. While he was 100 percent accurate when under pressure, he saw the third-most preseason pressure at 62.5 percent, and tied for the eighth-highest sack rate (40 percent).

During his time with the Eagles (2009-2013), his sack rate hovered around 15.0 percent. On 154 dropbacks last year with the Jets, that jumped to 30.6 percent.

Steelers’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley will have to walk a fine line when calling plays for his new QB. While he’d be well-served to call mainly quick plays, Haley also doesn’t want to eliminate the explosive downfield shots from the Steelers offense.

Vick does have the potential to move the Steelers down the field with chunk plays—each year with the Eagles, Vick graded +1.0 or above on throws traveling more than 10 yards. However, last year with the Jets, things really bottomed out. He racked up a -8.4 rating on only 35 attempts. Even though the Jets’ offense struggled, there’s no justification to grade that poorly on such a small sample size.

It will be interesting to see how the absence of Roethlisberger affects Antonio Brown. He currently leads all receivers at 4.32 yards per route run. As is sometimes the case, second-string WRs have more chemistry with the backup QB; so, Darrius Heyward-Bey, or even Dri Archer, could be poised to put up decent numbers with Vick.

Baltimore (Pittsburgh’s Week 4 opponent) ranks No. 22 in pass coverage and No. 15 in pass rushing, so Vick might be able to take advantage of a floundering 0-3 team on Thursday.

While the Steelers will certainly miss Big Ben the next three-to-four weeks, Vick has the potential to keep Pittsburgh afloat until his return.

  • crosseyedlemon

    I expect the Steelers to try to rush 40 times a game now rather than risk their fate on Vick’s so called potential.

    • Izach

      Nothing would make me happier than to see us run bell like we should, 30 carries for him 10 for Dwill sounds good to me no more than 25 passes for Vick, and 10-15 targets for brown 5 for bell, rest to others we’d be good. Vick should have 18-20 completions that way Keep it simple

      • crosseyedlemon

        The 18-20 completions you mention will be Vick’s 6 week total right? How many of those will actually go to players wearing the same uniform as him?

        • John C

          Been saying the same things for years …Atlanta’s former HC called him a coach killer years ago …I agree and what makes anyone think he’s better now than four, five years ago ? .To me, always a better athlete than a football player …

          • Izach

            Will say Vicks on a much better team than he has ever had so while I don’t expect miracle are schedule isn’t exactly grueling either should be decent enough to win more games than we lose with Vick

          • John C

            The Birds weren’t too bad six, seven years ago with Vick playing , before that dog thing …He never lived up to expectations and was always injury prone ..As I said before he was a better athlete than an NFL QB …Saw him play 7, 8 times when he played for Va Tech …

          • Izach

            No they weren’t horrible but they were particularly good, and Vick led the team to the playoffs twice, but this steelers team is better than those Falcons teams were from 02-06 bell and brown id say are better than any WR/RB combo Vick has played with plus Bryant, comes back after the Ravens game, the OL is decent even with pouncey out, Heath is a good reliable target still. And Vick has the experience, at least better situation than weeden and Luke Mccown are in.

          • Backinmd

            Watched the game .. Vick looked OK but the play calling by Tomlin could have been better – which of course wasn’t Vick’s fault .. Steeler’s should have used Bell in the 4th qrt..great RB with great hands and they didn’t use him ..That 4th and 2 was a bad call ..Vick should have called a short pass or a running play to Bell instead of running it on 4th & 2 …. Tomlin, to me, seems a little too conservative at times …

          • friendship220

            the NFC championship appearance with the Eagles was after the dog thing.

        • Izach

          Throw to AB and it’ll be complete more often than not. Vicks never had a WR has good as Antonio plain and simple

  • Zack23

    It’s a drop off from a Top 10 QB to a bottom 10 QB. If Vick is in for 6 games he’s good for at least 8 TO and 1 pulled hamstring.

    • crosseyedlemon

      Vick is about as durable as a rainbow. If he avoids injury for 4 games I will be surprised.

      • Nik Hildebrand

        Haha … I’m no fan of the guy (cringed when my Jets picked him up), but I’ve never seen a rainbow get injured.

        • crosseyedlemon

          Aww shucks! I was hoping a colorful metaphor would earn me a positive grade this week.

      • John C

        Four games – I’d say two or less …

  • John C

    Not trying to jinx the guy, but i can’t see Vick winning any games for the Steelers .. Always felt Vick coming out of Va.Tech was a tad overrated .. Lost way more games when he was a Falcon than he should have ..A better athlete than a football player ..

  • Nick Punwani

    I honestly think it’s not very accurate to use his time from 2013 to judge his ability. Most likely closer to whatever he did last year with the Jets, then his 2013 Eagles self.