Michael Vick: By The Numbers

The news is official: Michael Vick is a Pittsburgh Steeler

As previously argued for at the end of July, in my column “Michael Vick: Steeler Material?” I had justified that Vick has comparable measurables to former Steeler backups Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich. The former, Batch, is a beloved figure in Pittsburgh, not only for his some of his heroics (such as defeating eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore at the ripe old age of 38) but also being a native of the area.

However, some fans do not realize the difference between good and great.

Ben Roethlisberger is great. Without hesitation, I claim he is a future Hall of Famer.

Charlie Batch was good. Batch was good enough to lead the team to victories, but also had his share of downfalls.

That’s where Michael Vick is a good signing. Even compared to Bruce Gradkowski, the number 2 QB on the depth chart for whom Vick will presumably replace, Vick has more experience and has put up better stats.

To that degree, let’s compare all of the aforementioned quarterbacks, save for Big Ben (who’s numbers are off the charts.)

Charlie Batch

Year Tm G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate GWD
Career 81 55 25-30-0 908 1604 56.6 11085 61 52 77.2 11
8 yrs PIT 33 9 6-3-0 165 278 59.4 2069 12 12 79.0 3
4 yrs DET 48 46 19-27-0 743 1326 56.0 9016 49 40 76.9 8

Charlie Batch’s career was up and down in Detroit for many reasons. The telling statistic is his 19-27 record and 56.0 completion percentage before the Steelers signed him. In his Steeler career, Batch went 6-3 as a starter, but threw as many touchdowns as he did interceptions.

Byron Leftwich

Year Tm G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate GWD
Career 60 50 24-26-0 930 1605 57.9 10532 58 42 78.9 10
4 yrs JAX 46 44 24-20-0 789 1344 58.7 9042 51 36 80.5 10
4 yrs PIT 8 1 0-1-0 51 96 53.1 617 2 1 75.7 0
1 yr ATL 3 2 0-2-0 32 58 55.2 279 1 2 59.5
1 yr TAM 3 3 0-3-0 58 107 54.2 594 4 3 71.2

Leftwich was a formidable starter in Jacksonville and boasts the best completion percentage of the four QBs being compared here, before those players joined Pittsburgh. His seasonal QB ratings also favorably compare with those of Michael Vick.

Note: Leftwich appeared for the Steelers for 1 season in between stints with the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, before returning to the Steelers for his final 3 NFL seasons.

Bruce Gradkowski

Year Tm G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate GWD
Career 38 20 6-14-0 375 709 52.9 4057 21 24 65.8 7
2 yrs CIN 4 0 13 29 44.8 174 1 1 61.6 2
2 yrs OAK 13 8 3-5-0 165 307 53.7 2066 11 10 73.3 2
2 yrs TAM 18 11 3-8-0 190 352 54.0 1791 9 10 65.0 3
1 yr CLE 2 1 0-1-0 7 21 33.3 26 0 3 2.8

Gradkowski, who was the current backup, gets mostly an incomplete, having not started in a game since 2010. His 2 years in Cincinatti, prior to joining the Steelers, were the worst numbers of his career (save for his short time with the Browns, in which he lost his only start 31-0… against the Steelers.)

Note: Gradkowski has not played in the regular season for the Steelers. Bruce’s was 2 of 3 for 22 yards in the Steelers Wildcard loss to the Baltimore Ravens on January 3rd.

Michael Vick

Year Tm G GS QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Rate GWD
Career 138 112 59-50-1 1767 3151 56.1 22093 131 87 80.4 14
6 yrs ATL 74 67 38-28-1 930 1730 53.8 11505 71 52 75.7 8
5 yrs PHI 54 42 20-20-0 773 1300 59.5 9984 57 33 87.7 6
1 yr NYJ 10 3 1-2-0 64 121 52.9 604 3 2 68.3

Vick has the best TD-INT ratio of the 4 quarterbacks: before, during and after joining the Steelers. His 14 game-winning drives are the most of anyone in this conversation and his completion percentage in Philadelphia is also the best of any of the QBs runs with any specific team. (I’m using Philadelphia as the benchmark, since we know the dumpster fire that the New York Jets offense was last season.)

It appears that Vick is largely comparable and perhaps superior in many categories, when put up against his peers. This is why I’m completely okay with a 1-year deal for for a 35 year-old player. We do not know the extent of Bruce Gradkowski’s injuries, and when he will return. Bruce has also had limited time to train with the team, and this injury further displaces a player I was already uncomfortable with having as a backup, should Big Ben get hurt.

And while I defended Landry Jones and the progress he has made this offseason, it’s clear he is not a capable NFL starting quarterback, nor should we expect him to be. It’s also why Tyler Murphy is being worked out as a WR and why Tajh Boyd was cut: neither of those players were capble either. And while Landry could fill the role, if needed, but would you rather have a quarterback who measures with up with Charlie Batch or an unproven commodity in Jones, as the worst case scenario?

My thoughts exactly: welcome to Steeler Nation Michael Vick. Continue to be good and it may help the 2015 Steelers become great.

Now it’s time to do work. Look forward to seeing what you bring to the table in these next 2 preseason games.

Data courtesy Pro-Football-Reference.com.

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