With all the Calvin Johnson-to-Atlanta buzz that has intensified this past week, why am I not as excited as I should be to get possibly the greatest receiving prospect to ever come out, and the consensus No. 1 player in the draft?
I’m sure it has everything to do with Michael Vick, and little else. I’m a believer that the QB makes the WRs, not the other way around. I won’t deny that having a great receiver certainly helps, but the great QBs can build up WRs of average talent. A good case is what John Elway did with two journeymen receivers in Denver in Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith. When his career is over, Smith is going to be a Hall of Fame candidate. Not bad for an undrafted receiver. Now, obviously Smith himself had a lot to do with that, but I don’t think Rod Smith would be where he is today, if it had been Brian Griese or Hugh Millen as the Broncos QB when he started out.
I’m not trying to bash Vick, just saying that his record of working with receivers is not too exemplary. Case in point, last year at this time we had been hearing for weeks how Vick was working so hard on building up his relationship and rapport with Roddy White and Michael Jenkins, and how both were poised for breakout years. Well, any such rapport that had been built in the off-season, evaporated very quickly once the regular season began. The drops certainly had a lot to do with that. But I think if the rapport had been as strong as the Falcons P.R. people had led us to believe, those drops wouldn’t have occurred, or at least would have been dramatically less.
Jenkins basically admitted as much not too long ago about how difficult it was playing with a passer like Vick because you don’t know what’s going to happen. If having a good rapport with your QB means being on the same page, then Jenkins is suggesting that the rapport is weak.
It remains to be seen if Vick can build a strong relationship with Johnson. He has done so with Finneran and Crumpler, but I’m sure it helped that when Vick took the field as a Falcon for the first time in practice way back in 2001, Finneran and Crumpler were probably the first two players he threw to since all three were second stringers back then. All those that have followed, just haven’t been able to get access in that seemingly exclusive club of receivers Vick trusts: Willie Jackson, Jenkins, White, Peerless Price, Dez White, etc.
Will Johnson be different? If talent was the only thing that had to do with it, then certainly he would. But it takes more than talent.
If the Falcons do ship their three top picks in the draft to move up and get Johnson, I can’t really complain. He is the best player in the draft. But considering the $28-30 million we are going to have to guarantee in his contract, and that Atlanta doesn’t seem like the ideal place for a young receiver to develop, I’ll be far from ecstatic.
If the Falcons passing game shows significant improvement this year, then it will probably have less to do with the relationship between Vick and Johnson, and more to do with the one between Vick and Petrino.