Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Undone Origami



Here’s the thing: We all knew exactly what Michael Vick was capable of doing. The man didn’t get three Pro Bowls and playoff wins because he sells jerseys. To say that we are only just now seeing what we believed Michael Vick could be is a lie for that very reason. What we’re seeing now is something even more remarkable; Vick is becoming the sort of singular engine of effective offense that only Brady and Manning have been up until now. Watching him operate on Monday night was a revival of the dream of a quarterback becoming something more dynamic. It’s not a rejection of the classic way the position is played, as there will always be a place for pocket passers like Brady and Manning, but it certainly provided an alternative path to success, one built on a gripping combination of athleticism and cleverness. The way Vick uses his speed to hold defenders in place, allowing his weapons to find space and exploit mismatches, is just as effective as any well timed pocket play or pinpoint accurate pass; it is, then, a different way to play a game that has long been perceived as immutable (as untrue as that perception may be).

There is, perhaps, a second beauty to be found here, as well, one that extends beyond the breathtaking game that Vick is playing. Certainly, he gives hope that coaches can, and therefore will attempt to win by leveraging unique gifts as weapons in and of themselves rather than as tools fitting a system, but he also gives a voice back to creative game planning and risk taking in the NFL. If a team can win by playing THIS kind of different, who’s to say that another team can’t also create their own way? Coaches desperate for success, rather than retreating to old standards, could now push into undiscovered territory of schemes and systems, unearthing new tactics in the process. It all allows for the possibility of completely unique identities for teams, each one distinctly built to succeed based on the unique combination of individuals and abilities involved. Yes, I’m rooting for one player, but if you can’t see Vick is bigger than that, you’re missing the future unfolding before us.

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