FanHouse Roundtable: Enjoying the Michael Vick Show
Vick's game had the FanHouse Roundtable of NFL experts talking about whether it was the best performance ever. It was up there, but there might have been a better one in a Super Bowl.
Was Vick's game Monday night the single best first half of football ever?
Chris Harry: Yes. Next question.
Dan Graziano: I don't know. I feel like I once saw Doug Williams do something similar, only in the Super Bowl.
Thomas George: Some would argue what Doug Williams did in the Super Bowl was bigger and better because of the stakes.
Harry: Agreed about Doug Williams. But if we streamline the subject to regular season, I think most of us would agree it was Vick. Doug had to wait until the first play of the second quarter before throwing an 80-yard TD. Vick needed 14 seconds
George: The Hall of Fame wanted Vick's jersey from it. That says a lot.
How much credit does Andy Reid get for Vick's growth, or is this just the Vick everyone waited to see from the day he was drafted?
Graziano: I think you have to credit Andy Reid. He took heat for signing him, took heat for trading McNabb instead of him, took heat for starting him over Kolb after one good game. (He) took it all because he believed this could happen. He deserves a lot of credit.
George: Certainly, it looks like Reid and (offensive coordinator) Marty (Mornhinweg) have gotten their hands all over him and inside his head on what to do, how to operate and what to look for at the position.
Harry: Vick's maturation as a passer has been something to behold. And here's the scary part: he might just be scratching the surface of how he can master what the Eagles do.
Graziano: I do wonder about the long-term viability of this, though. If teams can focus on getting him out of the pocket and making him run, does the dominance last? He could get hurt running so much. And as great a runner as he is for a QB, he's not Chris Johnson.
Any possibility he plays anywhere but Philadelphia next season?
Harry: If you're the Eagles, do you let him hit the market?
George: If the Eagles let him get away, that would be the biggest blunder in their history.
Graziano: Yeah, assuming he finishes the season healthy and playing this well, there's no chance he leaves.
Harry: Back to the first question, can we agree it was the worst half for a defensive performance in history (Redskins were coming off a bye)?
George: When you say "in history," that accounts for a lot. Even the 73-0 Bears game (Ed. note: Chicago beat Washington 73-0 in the 1940 NFL title game). There has been worse.
Can anyone please explain the Donovan McNabb contract extension?
Graziano: It was a P.R. move, right? Announce it Monday to get the focus off the goofiness going on around McNabb and the team, then let it leak out Tuesday and Wednesday that it wasn't really a contract extension and nothing's really changed.
George: I think there is a lot going on there in relationships and in coaching behind the scenes. If they don't pull it together, it is going to boil over. It's a tricky situation that is only going to be resolved by winning. It is a story that all should watch, because it is far from over. The real issue here is they need McNabb to do what he was brought in to do: win. Same with Shanahan.
Harry: The only thing that changed appears to be that McNabb is getting an extra few million to play the second half of the season. Like everyone else, the news of the deal (especially the initial figures) seemed ridiculous for the 28th-ranked QB in the league. Like Dan said, it had to be a P.R. move to smooth out that mess from the Detroit game and hopefully put the team back on a positive track -- for Dan Snyder, what's a few extra million for someone who's played well somewhere else? But all it did was make the organization look silly. McNabb is not having a good season. Neither is the coach and his mini-me offensive coordinator.
Referring to McNabb and Shanahan, Shanahan took McNabb out in late minutes of a close game, then made him finish a blowout. Do we believe that Shanahan believes in McNabb?
George: I think so, for now. I think he is going to let McNabb answer that question the rest of the season.
Graziano: I wonder if they'll regret not going for Sam Bradford after all. If this thing falls apart, as it appears it will, aren't they back at square one next year? And maybe without as high a pick?
George: One thing about the Philly game is McNabb did direct them to nearly 30 points. That number of points will win you most games.
Graziano: Yeah, but Thomas, that's like praising the Pittsburgh offense for what it did in the fourth quarter against New England. The game was over by the time they got anything going. And McNabb did throw three picks!
George: True, to a degree. But with as big a lead as the Eagles had and the Eagles knowing the Skins would pass, that was an accomplishment to score in the passing game.
Graziano: McNabb can play, and he's got to be given a bit of a break for what he's done with no offensive line and a poor WR group.
Who will win the NFC West?
Graziano: I think the Padres. ... Oh, wait.
George: I really didn't think Seattle could win it because it's the first year of Pete Carroll's program with all the changes. But it looks like it's Seattle's to lose. The Cardinals have fallen so far so fast. Wow, was Kurt Warner ever a glue and leader there.
Graziano: I think Seattle wins it. They have the lead. They have the best division record, conference record and road record of anybody in the division. I like their coaching situation better than anybody's except Arizona's. I say Seattle. But whoever it is, I don't expect them to win a playoff game.
Harry: This may sound crazy, but I'm leaning toward the 49ers. I love the jolt that Troy Smith has given them. If they win this week -- at home against the Bucs, who have won two regular games in their history in the state of California -- I think they have a great shot. The Seahawks are unbelievably inconsistent. St. Louis is not talented enough. Arizona is bad. The Niners needed to find their QB. It looks like they have. 8-8 could win it ... maybe even 7-9.
George: By all means, if Smith gets hot and the 49ers play any kind of defense, sure, they could win.
Graziano: Everybody has a shot.
George: But I'll take Seattle.
Graziano: And I still like Seattle.
Should the league have a rule that a sub-.500 team is not playoff eligible and the spot goes to the third wild-card team?
Graziano: The league accepts and/or encourages mediocrity in so many other areas. Why take a stand on this one?
George: You get what you earn, and if you win the division, no matter the record, you are in.
Harry: Well put, Dan. 8-8 has won divisions. What's another loss?
Finally, why is there no great team this year? Or will there be a great team by year's end?
George: Things truly do run in cycles. Yesterday's dog division can become tomorrow's bully one. It wasn't that long ago we were talking about seeding in the entire playoffs because the AFC was so weak. Now look at the landscape.
Graziano: There will not be a great team by year's end. It's a down year for the league. Truthfully, the product is poor, and most of the football being played in the NFL week to week is subpar. It's been trending that way for a while, and it's coming home to roost. Somebody will get hot in January and win it all, but it won't be because they're a great team.
George: I think we are going to see some separation here in December. I believe two or three teams will rise into clear favorites. I'd look the way of Baltimore, New Orleans and possibly Philadelphia and the Jets.
Graziano: Baltimore-Atlanta looks like a good pick right now. Still think the Jets have room to get better (and I think it matters that they're winning while not playing great). I'm also fascinated to see what comes out of the AFC South. I wonder if Tennessee can be good.
Nobody likes New England?
Harry: Patriots? Not to represent in Dallas.
Graziano: New England, with Belichick and Brady, might be the perfect team to steal a title in a year when no one's very good.
Graziano: I don't think the Patriots are that good, but no one is, and they've got some folks there with some pretty good track record to fall back on.