Does Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick play his position better than
Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers –oops, I mean – Alex Smith?
After watching Alex Smith and the San Francisco 49ers go toe-to-toe with the almighty Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, it’s a legitimate question. Actually, I found myself astonished that this question even entered my head.
Is Alex Smith better than Michael Vick? Normally, that question would be met with a “what the hell have you been smoking?” response.
Going by past track record, Smith doesn’t even come close to anything Vick has done. During his six seasons in San Francisco, Smith has been labeled as a bust, has been in and out of the starting lineup and has never scored more than 18 touchdowns in a season.
Michael Vick scored 30 touchdowns in just 11 games in 2010 and put on the kind of performance a player like Smith could only dream about.
However, if you compare Smith and Vick on just this season, their numbers are very similar:
Michael Vick completed 59.8% of his passes for 3,303 yards with 18 TDs, 14 INTs, and 589 rushing yards with one rushing touchdown. Alex Smith completed 61.3% of his passes for 3,144 yards with 17 TDs, five INTs, and 179 rushing yards with two rushing touchdowns.
As far as yards and touchdown passes, they’re pretty even. The two obvious discrepancies are the rushing yards and turnovers. Vick, by the way, added two lost fumbles to his turnover total while Smith didn’t lose any.
I’m not here to argue statistics though, I’m just using them as a backdrop for a QB comparison.
The real thing I wanted to point out is that Alex Smith did something in the playoff game against New Orleans that I have not, and probably never will, see Michael Vick do with the Eagles: lead his team down the field for a touchdown drive in the waning moments of a big game.
Smith did this not just once, but twice against the Saints.
Late in the fourth-quarter, the Saints had just scored to take a 24-23 lead. The 49ers got the ball back with four minutes left in the game and began the drive at their 20 yard-line. Smith promptly led his team right down the field that included a beautiful pass that hit TE Vernon Davis in stride for a big 37 yard gain.
Smith capped the drive off with a masterfully-designed QB run that went for 28 yards and the go-ahead touchdown.
Of course, Drew Brees was the other QB and he then did what he always does and leads his team right back. The Saints scored pretty quickly on the next drive to put them on top yet again.
This set up Smith’s second consecutive drive that proved to be the game winner.
The 49ers got the ball back at their own 15 yard-line with one minute and 37 seconds left in the game. After a few short passes to get themselves some breathing room, Smith again hit TE Vernon Davis with a great pass for a big play of 47 yards.
This ultimately put them in a position to get a touchdown rather than settling for a game-tieing field goal. With about 14 seconds left, Smith hit Davis with a bullet, in stride and in heavy coverage, for the game winning score.
All I could say was “wow!”, did Smith really just do that? He looked calm, cool, and confident in leading those two drives. He made excellent throws when he needed to and stood tall in the pocket.
After witnessing that, from an offensively-challenged team and a QB who was thought to be roadkill entering this season, I couldn’t help but wonder if that were the Eagles, would Vick have been able to do what Smith did.
Not only lead his team at crunch time, but also do it with the added pressure of it being a playoff game.
We have a few examples of how Vick has fared at crunch time with the Eagles, they are as follows:
October 9th, against Buffalo, the Eagles were trailing by seven points when they got the ball back with 5 minutes and 39 seconds left in the game. This wasn’t even a “two-minute drill” mind you.
He led the team down the field to the Bills’ 25 yard line. Just after the two-minute warning, Vick ends the comeback attempt by throwing an interception, his fourth of the game.
November 7th, against Chicago, the Eagles were down by six points when they started a drive with just under four minutes left in the game. Again, not exactly a two-minute situation. The drive ultimately ended with under two minutes in the game on a 4th and 10 play that went for nine yards
November 13th, against Arizona, the Eagles were trailing by four points when they began a drive with one minute and 53 seconds left. Finally, a legitimate two-minute drill!
After three plays that gained 22 yards, the next three plays went like this: Vick pass incomplete, Vick pass incomplete, Vick pass intercepted.
Then there was last year’s playoff game against the Packers. Vick and the Eagles took over at their own 34 yard line with one minute and 45 seconds left on the clock. This is perhaps the best comparison to what Alex Smith did against the Saints.
Vick led the team down the field, just like Smith did. However, while Smith threw a pin-point accurate pass for the winning score, Vick lofted up a rainbow that was intercepted and ended the game.
With all that said, I’m not saying Alex Smith is Captain Comeback or the second-coming of Joe Montana. And at this point, I still don’t think he’s an overall better quarterback than Michael Vick.
However, what I am saying is that, against the Saints in his first-ever playoff game, Alex Smith looked better than Michael Vick in a clutch situation.
And to me, that’s a real eye-opener.