Here’s an amazing revelation: I’m leaving wild-card weekend feeling better about Michael Vick than Peyton Manning.
Vick knows he screwed up Sunday and took full responsibility for the Eagles’ failed comeback attempt against the Packers.
“To be on the 27-yard line,” Vick said after throwing the game-deciding interception in Green Bay’s 21-16 upset, “and for me to make the decision that I made and try to get the big play, that’s something I definitely need to work on. I try to do everything I can to protect the ball and keep the ball away from the opposing team and make positive plays, and I failed to do that in that situation.
“It’s something that I’ll have to really work on in the offseason, and it’s something we’re going to have to work on. I’ve just got to deal with it on a personal level.”
Yep, David Akers blew two field goals, and Andy Reid bungled Philly’s timeouts. But with 44 seconds to play, Vick was 27 yards away from glory. He had marched the Eagles 39 yards in one minute and then, on first and 10 from the 27, he inexplicably lobbed a floater down the sideline to Riley Cooper.
“I feel like I got greedy,” Vick explained, “and took a shot at the end zone and didn’t throw the right ball I wanted to throw and then it got picked off.”
The margin for error at quarterback in the NFL is as small as an ant’s ass. It’s even smaller at playoff time. Vick tricked off a major opportunity.
Riley Cooper in the clutch? Really?
If Vick finishes the go-ahead drive, he adds $30 million to his offseason contract demands and fickle Philly fans embrace him the way they once loved Dr. J.
Now, anything is a possibility. Vick knows it.
“In this business, you never know,” Vick said when asked about returning to the Eagles next season. “We’ll see. I’m going to stay optimistic and keep believing. I still feel like I can play at a high level for the next couple of years. I still have a lot of work to do, though, and I’m conscious of that.”
Again, I feel really good about Michael Vick. There are no guarantees that he’ll make it through the offseason without screwing up, without involving himself in an embarrassing, off-the-field incident.
But at least he knows the answers to all of his problems begin and end with Michael Vick. He gets it.
Peyton Manning? I’m not so sure.
The Colts lost a 17-16 heartbreaker to the Jets on Saturday. When it was over, and the Jets had dropped Manning’s career playoff record below .500, all the talk in Indianapolis centered on the injuries the Colts survived throughout the season.
No one asked the most gifted pocket passer in the history of the league why he consistently comes up short in the postseason. Every year it’s a different excuse – no running game, injuries, a bad defense or bad luck.
Manning is rarely forced to do what Michael Vick has been doing the past three years – look inside and examine himself. If he looks, the answer is obvious and fixable.
Manning needs to cede control of the Indy offense to a legit offensive coordinator and head coach. Manning needs help. He’s bought the broadcast-booth hype that he can compete with Bill Belichick, Rex Ryan and other high-priced defensive coaches in a game of chess.
Manning can’t. He keeps getting exposed at playoff time. His high-scoring, regular-season offense falls apart in the postseason.
Under Manning’s direction, the Colts have averaged 22.4 points in 19 playoff games.
Saturday, Manning failed on numerous third-and-short situations, choosing to throw rather than run. Late in the game, he underthrew Blair White on a critical third-down pass that would’ve left virtually no time on the clock when Adam Vinatieri attempted a go-ahead field goal, rather than enough time for the Jets to execute their game-winning drive.
Manning blew the game. He’s carrying too big of a burden.
The postseason is a different animal. Coaches spend the entire regular season preparing to break tendencies in the postseason. They add wrinkles they’ve been waiting to unveil for months.
Belichick never takes a helmet-to-helmet hit during a game. He never breaks a sweat trying to escape a pass rush. He focuses and thinks for three straight hours.
Manning is trying to do too much. The one year he won a Super Bowl, Tony Dungy’s defense covered up Manning’s poor playoff play (three TDs, seven INTs).
Jim “Chris Webber” Caldwell can’t cover up his own incompetence. C-Well’s ridiculous timeout late in the Jets game all but sealed Indy’s fate Saturday night.
If Tom Moore, Indy’s longtime offensive coordinator, were some sort of real genius, trust me some NFL owner would’ve rained money on him years ago and enticed Moore to leave Indianapolis for a head-coaching job.
Nope. Manning has been a one-man offensive army. Everyone knows it. People have improperly interpreted Rex Ryan’s pregame comments about Tom Brady getting more coaching help than Manning. It wasn’t a shot at Brady. It was a shot at Manning.
Smart defensive coaches love to take on Manning at playoff time. A good football coach can always outthink a player, no matter how intelligent or talented the player is.
If Manning had Vick’s self-awareness, the Colts QB would demand that Caldwell be relieved of his duties and that someone like Jon Gruden be hired.
Joe Montana had Bill Walsh. Tom Brady has Bill Belichick. Terry Bradshaw had Chuck Noll. John Elway had Mike Shanahan. Troy Aikman had Jimmy Johnson. Bart Starr had Vince Lombardi.
Jim Caldwell? Really? No, really?
Manning is going to be 35 next season. I hope he doesn’t waste his twilight years trying to prove he’s smarter than Bill Belichick. Manning can’t win that battle. He should focus on proving he’s better than Brady, Montana and Elway.