Many have said that Greg Knapp did not at all or did not do enough to adjust his offense around Vick. Well, in doing a bit of research, I’ve discovered that the stats paint a different picture.
ESPN.com has a thorough breakdown of Vick’s statistics based on formations. They break it down into 4 basic backfield formations: Shotgun, Split back, I-formation, and Lone setback. They also break it down by the number of receivers on the field: one or less, two, three, and four or more.
I discovered particularly in reference from 2005 to 2006, Knapp did do quite a bit to adjust his scheming. In 2005, Vick was at his most proficient as a passer throwing out of the I-formation and shotgun. He had a 97.1 and 83.5 rating, respectively, in those formations. So what does Knapp do for 2006? He essentially doubles the number of times he calls those plays. In 2005, a total of 26% of Vick’s passes came from the shotgun, and 17% from the I-formation. In 2006, 50% of Vick’s passes were in the shotgun, and 35% in I-formation. Well how did Vick respond? Well, he still remained relatively solid in I-formation, having a passer rating of 85.4. But in shotgun, his rating dipped to 68.2 in 2006.
Also, one notices that the number of times the Falcons utilized 4-5 WRs in 2006 increased dramatically as opposed to the previous year. Why? Most likely due to the fact that Vick’s passer rating in those situations went from 29.3 in 2004 to 72.5 in 2005. Thus, the team hoped for a similar increase in production in 2006, by increasing the nymber of passes from that situation from 10% in 2005 to 18% in 2006. Did it work? No, because Vick’s rating slipped back down to a paltry 45.7.
Also, you look at Vick’s work from the split back position. In 2004 and 2005, 20-24% of Vick’s passes came from that formation, but he had ratings of 66.3 and 57.1, respectively. Well, in 2006, Knapp virtually removed throwing from that set out of the playbook, as it represented only 7% of the pass attempts. Vick’s passer rating by the way wound up being 25.6 in those situations this past year.
This of course does not by any means “prove” that Knapp did a good job molding his offense around Vick. I personally believe that greater steps should have been taken, and also the stats don’t tell the whole truth. After all, if Vick was so good at passing in I-formation in 2004 and 2005 based on the stats, why then was this not utilized even to a greater degree in 2006 than it was?
But these stats show me something else as well, which is Vick’s inconsistency, which in my eyes helped further Knapp’s failures. His seesaw production, particularly with the shotgun formation, illustrate some of the limitations that any offensive coordinator would have difficulty overcoming when designing an offense around Vick.
If the statistics can be considered reliable, it shows Vick’s strengths. He was most consistently good passing in I-back formation, and with 0-1 receivers on the field. Which means for the next offensive coordinator, an offense built around twin tight ends and a more physical rushing attack may be the best medicine for the Atlanta Falcons and Vick’s woes. Essentially, the Falcons might have to become the Dallas Cowboys.