A lot of speculation has been thrown around recently about Michael Vick, the former quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons now free from non-NFL punishment of his dog-fighting scandal. On talk radio mainstreamers and fans alike have wondered which team would be (supposedly) insane enough to sign a player who carries a lot of baggage and will most likely be suspended for the start of the regular season.
So how shocking it is that the Bengals frequently come up in these discussions. Vick appears to be an excellent candidate to be redeemed by Mikey Boy; no one else wants him following numerous lies and a gruesome crime, and soon he may practically be begging for a single chance back into the league.
So, before jumping to the knee-jerk (but still correct) opinion of not wanting Michael purely based on his past (which is more than enough already), I'll take a rational look at what bringing him on-board would do.
For starters, the Bengals could obviously use a better backup quarterback than JT O'Sullivan. We still have no idea how Carson Palmer's elbow is going to hold up, and if he goes down for even two or three games, the season will most likely be lost if JT starts. In this sense, acquiring Michael Vick as insurance would be a perfectly logical move.
However, let's consider how good Vick really would be in a backup role. In six years with the Falcons, Vick compiled a terrible 5.4 NY/A (net-yards per attempt, including sacks taken), struggling in completing the ball, not turning it over, and in taking sacks. Basically, even when at his peak performance, he struggled.
Those numbers would only get worse with Cincinnati, or any team for that matter, as Vick has now been away from the NFL for two full seasons. He'll need a healthy adjustment period in order to start, one only a team throwing away its season would be willing to give. If Palmer gets injured and a competent QB needs to come in and produce immediately, Vick certainly will not fufill that need.
And it must be mentioned that Vick played a West Coast system in Atlanta, one much different from the passing-heavy scheme the Bengals run. I suppose the offensive gameplan could be changed to fit Michael's strengths on-the-run, but then again, the team isn't blessed with a very innovative offensive coordinator due to the head man's inability to recognize a coach failing to do his job.
Unless the Bengals are looking to completely start over on offense, including at quarterback and in scheme, getting Vick is pretty pointless.
But another potential benefit of having Vick around could be using the speedy QB in different looks, perhaps the wildcat, to keep the defense on its toes and offering an easy score here and there. Vick was known as an exciting player, and definitely made use of his athleticism by tucking and running with the football on many plays rather than dumping off to a running back.
Again, I refer to the Bengals' offensive coordinator, and how he's not one to change his schemes up, especially not in a last-second move (which this one would presumably be). Giving Bob Bratkowski a player who can be used in unique ways is like giving Charlie on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia a platform to express his love for the waitress; it ultimately leads to nothing but creates a whole lot of headaches.
Lastly in just a football perspective, acquiring Vick and plugging him in at quarterback either to give Palmer a short rest or to replace him because of injury would force the already-developing offensive line to change its patterns and schemes. Carson Palmer obviously wants a pocket built around him following a five-step drow, while Vick works best rolling out and in a three-step drop. For a young line that will need to work on its continuity early in the season in order to be successful later in '09 (hopefully) and beyond, plugging Vick in will not help.
And finally, the extremely obvious points: Michael Vick brings far too many character questions and controversy to bring in, even for a team like the Bengals that already has numerous bad seeds. Forget the jokes among NFL fans about the ridiculousness of the organization; we're all used to rooting for a laughingstock, and the more outside criticism thrown on Mike Brown the better. But consider other implications of signing Vick, including some players and coaches not liking the move and thus distancing themselves from the organization, which would inevitably happen, and commissioner Roger Goodell's already-present bias about the Bengals being renewed. I would not appreciate more lengthy suspensions being put down on Bengals' players in-part because of Goodell'shatred of these types of moves.
In summary, signing Michael Vick would be highly illogical in my opinion, in both a football and organizational sense. The Bengals, other than in their obsession with bad characters, just aren't a fit.
That doesn't mean the move won't happen, though, with Mike Brown calling the shots. In a few days, while sitting in his ninety-five degree office and reading a stolen New York Times from his public library, Brown may very well jump at the thought of another redeeming opportunity.