As bad as the offseason has been, Michael Vick's life might get worse in a few months when the Falcons actually hit the field.
While the negative press from his airport water bottle drama and a possible connection to dogfighting have been PR nightmares, barring an indictment, Vick will survive those events just fine. But a 3-13 season would be another story.
The Falcons have been a playoff contender since Vick took over as the starting quarterback. This could be the year Atlanta slides from being a slightly above average team to an also-ran. And if that happens, Vick will get the blame even though he might not deserve it.
The Falcons have at least three problems bigger than Vick's on-field performance:
- They're hurt: Two of their best defensive players, Rod Coleman and Demorrio Williams, won't be available at the beginning of the season. And pass-rushing stud John Abraham has been injured three out of the last four seasons.
- They're old: RB Warrick Dunn is 32 (the witching age for his position), OT Wayne Gandy is 36, starting receiver Joe Horn is 35, safety Laywer Milloy is 33 and DT Grady Jackson is 34.
- Their coach is straight out of college: Former Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has some NFL experience with the Jags, but he seems like a Nick Saban college dictator type. Recent history indicates college coaches fail quickly in the NFL.
One interesting statistical anomaly: the Falcons play 12 games in domes this season, which should be an advantage. But they were 3-7 indoors and 4-2 outdoors last in 2006.
The Falcons might not be good on any surface in '07. And if they do tank, the organization's loyalty to Vick could be severely tested. Say they have the top pick in the draft and Petrino's QB at Louisville Brian Brohm or another potential star quarterback is available in the draft. The cap hit of releasing Vick is problematic, but not 100 percent guaranteed to preclude a move.
I'd love to hear from someone who actually thought things looked peachy in Atlanta if anyone would care to argue.