It's really about coaching, and the fact that the Patriots have a very consistent running/passing attack.
I know its not a popular idea, but IF Vick and the WRs were more consistent, the offensive line would not look as bad as it does.
People point to how many times Vick is sacked, but I still think nearly 50% of those sacks are avoidable in that Vick causes a lot of them.
Here's Vicks numbers since his rookie year of how many times he's sacked per dropback:
2001 = 6.4 dropbacks
2002 = 10.6 dropbacks
2003 = 12.1 dropbacks
2004 = 8.0 dropbacks
I also think that it is no mere coincidence that Vick was more fumble-prone this year as well:
2001 - 1 per every 24 touches
2002 - 59.3 touches
2003 - 35.0 touches
2004 - 28.8 touches
Now, some will see this as a total reflection on Greg Knapp, and I can agree somewhat. Knapp (and Mike Johnson) are responsible for this area, of Vick's ball control.
But I think basically Vick played sloppy this year, and because of it, it made the O-line seem a lot worse than it is.
Do I think we have one of the best O-lines in the league? No. Is it still one of the worst? Yeah, probably. But I honestly believe that if Vick starts to play smarter and more under control, it will probably cut our sacks in half. I know its in his nature to hold onto the ball longer because he thinks he can make a huge play with his feet, and many times you want him to try to do it, but I think there has to be sometimes when Vick throws it away more.
I look at the #s (sacks per dropbacks) from Denver under Gibbs when Elway and Griese were the QBs, here are the totals:
1995 - Elway (25.6)
1996 - Elway (18.9)
1997 - Elway (15.8)
1998 - Elway (20.8)
1999 - Griese (17.7)
2000 - Griese (20.8)
Point being that I don't think Gibbs has ever coached a line that was one of those units that only allowed 10 or 15 sacks in a year. They have always typically been a unit that allowed 25-30 sacks per year. And I think that's probably the goal for the Falcons. Hopefully we can get it under 40 next year, and in the future consistently under 35, or if lucky 30.
But it seems that many of my fellow Falcon fans have the undertones of overhauling the O-line. Most people agree that Forney should stay, but pretty much everyone else is up in the air. Some want to dump Weiner, others don't, and most are saying keep him for a year and then get rid of him next year. The same is said about McClure and Shaffer, and I think we all know someone better than Garza needs to be in there at LG. But it would seem that many people are of the mindset that the unit as it appeared in 2004, may only have 1 player remaining by 2006 (Forney). I don't think it needs to be that drastic.
It's a process, and short of adding Jon OGden and Kevin Mawae next year, to expect drastic improvement from our line for next year, no matter whom we pick up is just a bit naive.
I just think too much of the blame goes to guys like Price, Shaffer, etc. when I think Vick deserves just as much of the blame. And this is not to say that I think all our problems stem from Vick, or that I don't realize Vick is a developing QB and he's going to make many mistakes along the way. But I think the same issues that DET is going thru with Harrington are very similar to the issues that we face with Vick. The only major difference is that Vick makes big plays to make up for his MANY mistakes, and people tend to forget about the sloppy footwork, ball control issues, and errant passes.
And I agree that in order to facilitate faster/better development from Vick, we need to improve these other positions. But it seems that people tend to solely relate Vick's lack of development to the problems at these other positions, and not his own deficiencies.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.