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 Post subject: Knapp needs to stick Vick in better offense
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 8:22 am 
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Terence Moore - Staff
Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Flowery Branch --- Says here that Greg Knapp is outta here as Falcons offensive coordinator if Michael Vick continues to look clumsy when using his arm instead of his legs. To which Falcons coach Jim Mora responded Monday after the conclusion of his team's first minicamp by pointing upward to stress that nothing is clearer in Mora's mind than the fact that Knapp knows exactly what he's doing.

"Like the sky's blue. Not one of us can say that the sky's not blue," said Mora, still pointing after giving other "facts" that he says that nobody who knows the difference between a nimbostratus cloud and a blitzing linebacker "can argue."

This was the calmer Mora speaking, by the way. The slightly irritated one surfaced a few minutes earlier during his passionate defense of Knapp, who came with Mora to the Falcons from the San Francisco 49ers before the 2004 season. With voice rising, Mora said, "The guy is one of the finest offensive coordinators in the league. The fact is --- there's an undisputable fact that no one can dispute --- that we went from 29th to 12th [out of 32 teams in total offense]. We went from 29th or 30th on third downs to second. We led the league in rushing for two consecutive years."

Mora paused to unclench his teeth, before adding, "I'm flabbergasted when people question Greg Knapp. Go look at the numbers, and you tell me a team that has done that and has had that much [dramatic] improvement, then maybe you can argue with me. Until then, nobody has a basis for their argument."

Mora paused again, before easing into a smile and saying, "Well, unless they just want to throw [junk] up in the air and see what sticks."

This sticks: What Mora is neglecting to mention is that in 2003, when the Falcons' offense was ranked 29th, Vick played in just five games. He missed most of the season with a broken right fibula. It's a wonder how much an offense can improve when Doug Johnson is not your quarterback.

This also sticks: 73.1. That was Vick's passer rating last season, which ranked 25th out of the league's 34 qualifying quarterbacks. Not only that, his passer rating has spiraled toward oblivion each season since he reached a career high of 81.6 during his last full season under Dan Reeves in 2002 and the Green Bay miracle.

This sticks, too: The various excuses for Vick's inability to throw himself to the next level have dwindled to zero.

For starters, since Mike Johnson was the only coach dismissed by Falcons officials during the offseason, they essentially blamed all of Vick's struggles on the quarterbacks coach. Johnson's replacement, Bill Musgrave, already has been anointed as savior of the universe around here, or at least of No. 7. In fact, with the veteran Musgrave around, Knapp said he'll have more time to focus on the big picture of running the offense instead of functioning as he did with Johnson, as offensive coordinator and co-quarterbacks coach.

Said Knapp, who, like Mora, feels as if the guillotine isn't swinging above the head of the offensive coordinator, "Like any business, the more people around you that understand what's going on, it helps to make that business stronger. I feel like [Musgrave] will make us stronger as a unit, because I'm not feeling as obligated to be in there."

So any chance of Falcons officials playing the blame game again with the quarterbacks coach is definitely punted away. In addition, nobody can say that Vick is struggling out of discomfort with the new offense anymore. Well, they could, but among others involved with their versions of the West Coast offense, Steve Young already had won the NFL's most valuable player award by his third full year, Donovan McNabb was making his second trip to the NFC championship game, and Brett Favre had become Brett Favre.

One more thing: Vick spent much of last season with various aches and pains, but mostly there was his knee sprain that required a brace. He said it was the reason he chose to spend an usually high amount of time (for him) in the pocket last season. He said he is completely healthy now, which means he is his old self.

Which also means the pressure just increased even more on Knapp to make Vick go back to the future of his last season with Reeves, if nothing else.


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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 9:00 am 
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I don't believe that Knapp is the greatest OC in the league, but I believe he is more than capable of getting the job done.

Knapp is a scapegoat for most Falcon fans. Mora is a conservative coach. If it's up to him, the Falcons are going to win by playing tough defense and running the football. Regardless if it's Knapp or not, whomever the Falcons get to be their OC is going to abide by those principles. The Falcons lack of innovation does not start and end with Greg Knapp.

Knapp doesn't get credit for the strong rushing effort the Falcons have these past two years. Most owuld say it's GIbbs doing, and that its the blocking scheme. They forget how good a rushing team the 49ers were during his tenure there. They finished in the top 10 in rushing yards and yard per carry each season, if not the Top 5. The guy knows how to run the ball and effectively juggle 2 RBs as good if not better than any other OC in the league.

Despite the mundane passing statistics, Vick IMHO has shown great improvement in terms of his skills since the days of Reeves. People always point out 2002 as Vick's best year. I disagree. He may have put up better numbers or won more games then, but it was not his best year. His footwork, accuracy, and touch have all improved since then. But people then would argue that's just natural progresssion of the player rather than being overtly from Knapp's influence.

Is Knapp predictable? Definitely,yes. But is he effective? Another definite yes. Considering what he's had to work with here in Atlanta, a developing QB, no WR support, and by what many would determine a talentless OL, he's done a pretty good job.

So I disagree with Terence Moore in that unless the Falcons fail to do the things that Mora wants to do: run the ball well and play tough defense, then and only then will we see guys like Knapp and Donatell come under pressure to keep their jobs.

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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 11:57 am 
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The only stat that bothers me is Vick's yards per pass average. it has never been higher than 7.9 YPP at any point in his career. They need to let Vick use his cannon and fire shots down field far more than they do today.

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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 4:01 pm 
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dirtybirdnw wrote:
The only stat that bothers me is Vick's yards per pass average. it has never been higher than 7.9 YPP at any point in his career. They need to let Vick use his cannon and fire shots down field far more than they do today.


He has yet to demonstrate that he can hit anyone with the cannon. He may have a big arm, but he has no touch on the long ball. Unless we grow some 9' receivers, we will have to hope Vick's working with Musgrave will bear some fruit.

People can blame Knapp, but if the QB cannot complete the plays, why call them?

W


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 10:30 am 
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They need to let Vick use his cannon and fire shots down field far more than they do today.

- This is what I had been saying too. They say we don't run the WCO, but boy that sure is a WCO per pass average. Send Roddy deep a couple times and see what happens.


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 11:30 am 
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FalconWease wrote:
dirtybirdnw wrote:
The only stat that bothers me is Vick's yards per pass average. it has never been higher than 7.9 YPP at any point in his career. They need to let Vick use his cannon and fire shots down field far more than they do today.


He has yet to demonstrate that he can hit anyone with the cannon. He may have a big arm, but he has no touch on the long ball. Unless we grow some 9' receivers, we will have to hope Vick's working with Musgrave will bear some fruit.

People can blame Knapp, but if the QB cannot complete the plays, why call them?

W


Well Vick's deep bombs won't improve if he never throws them. I'm not necessarily blaming anyone. I just think Vick should be given far more reign over what this offense does. I'd like to see Vick making a couple calls from the huddle ala Peyton Manning. But in the end I'd like to see Vick throw deep a bit more often. I wouldn't consider a 10 yard out a deep pass.

Nothing but sub-10 yard passes make your offense predictable. Not only that if you are throwing inside 10 yards on most passes the defense is going to tighten up and in turn close down more running lanes.

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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 11:39 am 
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Don't forget the link between yards per attempt and completion percentage. 18 QBs had averages of over 7 last year that attempted at least 100 passes, but only 4 of them had completion percentages below 60%. They were:

Trent Dilfer (59.8%)
Donovan McNabb (59.1%)
Byron Leftwich (57.1%)
Vinny Testaverde (56.6%)

People laud Vick's deep ball, but I'm in the same camp with FalconWease, I haven't seen enough indication to say that it's very good. Off the top of my head, I recall basically only 1 good deep ball all season long for Vick (in the opener vs. Eagles to Jenkins). Schaub had like 3 alone in the Patriots game (thus why he averaged 7.7 yards per attempt with only 51.6% completion percentage).

Vick definitely has the arm strength, but does he have the touch? I don't think so. 7.9 is also kind of stretching it, only a handful of passers ever reach the average of 8 yards per attempt. He averaged 7.2 in 2004, which is a pretty good number.

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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 1:20 pm 
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Not only that if you are throwing inside 10 yards on most passes the defense is going to tighten up and in turn close down more running lanes.

- to me this has been as big a problem as vick's accuracy and wr routes

all i know is a vt when he was in college, at least 1x per game he would chuck it 60 yards and andre davis would run right underneath it for a td more often than not. so imo, it's not vick, it's a lack of simply trying the play. at the worst we would open up the d a little.


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 1:39 pm 
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I've seen Vick throw some pretty deep balls before so I know he can do it...the problem is we never try to do it...

I am not saying that we should wing it down field 40 yards 20 times a game, but we should at least take a shot every now and then


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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2006 2:25 pm 
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All Moore is doing is trying to set Knapp up as the fall guy, obviously attempting to protect his,...ummm,...protect Vick if he plays poorly. Knapp does receive to much credit for the Falcons offensive woes when, in fact, football is a team sport that requires a defense to play some during the game. Our defense couldn't keep any offense off the field last season, especially later in the season, and that also contributed to the play calling as we all know when you're behind ya just can't stick to the run right, run left and it exposed the weakness our offense had,...the passing game.

I stick to the prediction Vick will pass much better if for no other reason, the two WRs will be working exclusively with Vick now.


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PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2006 12:40 pm 
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I think some of you here already know how I feel about Mr. Vick. I will wait until I see what Musgrave has accomplished with him before I say anymore. Musgrave has had success throughout his career, if he can't do it then no one can. Vick has a great opportunity here, if healthy, to have a great year. If his leadership lets the team down again, then management has a Plan B....my particular choice.


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