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lamberts-lost-tooth
10-22-2006, 08:52 AM
Ed Bouchette on the Steelers: A weekly look inside the team, the issues, the questions:

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Michael Vick might be the best running quarterback in NFL history, yet that's only because the Steelers tried to develop Kordell Stewart more as a passer.

Stewart was every bit the runner Vick is today. Anyone who saw his 80-yard touchdown run in Carolina in 1996 knows it. That's still the longest touchdown run by a quarterback in NFL history.

The Steelers, though, did not want Stewart to run as often, and he complied. He bought into the argument that a running quarterback won't last long in the NFL unless he develops as a passer. They were so determined to keep him in the pocket that after Stewart ran for a touchdown one day in Jacksonville, he was greeted along the sideline by coordinator Kevin Gilbride, who lectured him for not throwing into the end zone rather than running.

"I do think we put some restrictions on Kordell," said Steelers receiver Hines Ward, a rookie in Stewart's second year as a starter (1998). "Just let Kordell play and have fun and not worry about stats. I think people look into stats a little too much."

Ward witnessed the work that went into transforming Stewart into a pocket passer.

"He heard so much of it that when there were plays where he could have run the ball, he sat in the pocket trying to be that pocket passer rather than going out and being Kordell Stewart," Ward said.

They all may have been right, that a quarterback will not lead his team to a championship by running more than throwing. Donovan McNabb has transformed his game in Philadelphia to where he runs less. McNabb ran 86 times in 2000, just 41 times in 2004. He has run 17 times in six games this season.

Even some of the great running quarterbacks -- Fran Tarkenton, Steve Young, Billy Kilmer -- were accomplished passers. Joe Kapp, considered by many a successful running quarterback, led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC championship and a berth in Super Bowl IV. But, in that 1969 season, Kapp rushed 22 times for only 104 yards and no touchdowns. He passed 237 times for 1,726 yards and 19 scores.

Stewart averaged 5.2 yards a run in his career, including a high of 5.8 in his final season as their starter (2001). He ran 96 times that season for 537 yards and five touchdowns. He completed 60.2 percent of his passes that season, when he made the Pro Bowl and the Steelers went 13-3.

Compare that to Vick. He averages 6.9 yards in his career on the ground, 6.7 yards per pass attempt. He never has hit 3,000 yards passing -- Stewart eclipsed that mark twice -- and his best completion rate was 56.4 in 2004.

At his pace this season, he'll rush for more than 1,000 yards, something no NFL quarterback has done.

"Last year, they wanted him as a pocket passer, this year, they said we're going to your strengths," Ward said. "That's why they've done a tremendous job."

But have they? They are 3-2 after the New York Giants sacked Vick seven times last Sunday. Atlanta is third in the NFC South Division behind New Orleans (5-1) and Carolina (4-2). That may have nothing to do with Vick; the Falcons might be 2-3 or 1-4 if he weren't running so much.

There's another thing for coaches to consider when they buy into the running-quarterback format for their offense. Nobody wants to play wide receiver for a quarterback like that. The Falcons never will attract a good wide receiver in free agency as long as Vick is their quarterback.

They sent a first-round pick to Buffalo in a trade for Peerless Price after he caught 94 passes for the Bills in 2002. Over the next two seasons with Vick as his quarterback, Price averaged 54.5 receptions.

Defensive players and coaches often fear a quarterback like Vick. They can't defend him the way they do other quarterbacks. They constantly have to worry about him taking off, whether he seems hemmed in under a heavy rush or if there's no one open.

That does not mean Vick is more effective or dangerous as a quarterback than, say, Carson Palmer or Ben Roethlisberger. It's just that he does it differently. Different doesn't always make it better.



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Thank heaven the Oakland Athletics went belly-up against Detroit
Had the Oakland Athletics made it to the World Series and the World Series had gone to seven games, the Steelers' game in Oakland against the Raiders next Sunday would have been switched to Monday night -- kickoff at 10 p.m. Eastern.

What would the Steelers have done to deserve that kind of treatment, a late Monday night game on the West Coast?

Or their fans who would have to wait until 1 a.m. or later to see the end of the game?

The NFL should look into these situations more carefully. They try to schedule games around a possible World Series contender in towns that share stadiums. But where they can't, the onus should be put on the home team. If the Raiders want to share a stadium with the Athletics and a conflict arises, it should be at the expense of the Raiders, not the innocent visiting team.

In this case, had the conflict arisen, the Raiders should have been given some choices -- play the game at Stanford, at the San Francisco 49ers' Monster Park or move it to Heinz Field.

Any team that has such baseball/football conflicts can be informed of their options before the season begins.

19ward86
10-22-2006, 10:54 AM
very interesting, i knew kordell could run but i never thought he was that fast....watching the games on tv are decieving i guess. kordell should of stayed with us and developed into a reciever. dang.

Elvis
10-22-2006, 12:02 PM
:dang: who are you tryin' to fool sayin' that Kordell was as good or fast as Vick? Are you wasted? Kordell was never the athlete that Vick is.:sofunny: Vick is very talented but the best ever running/scrambling QB of alltime is Steve Young... he could do it all...:tt02: :helmet: