Can Michael Vick Still Be a Viable NFL Starting Quarterback?

Last season was disastorous for Michael Vick in New York. Does he have enough left in the tank to compete for a starting job?

I still remember playing Madden 2004, at age 17, marveling at the ability of Michael Vick to help me run roughshod over my friends.

Granted, his speed rating might have been a bit exaggerated, but the explosiveness and agility he showed on whichever gaming console you played, translated almost flawlessly to his play on the actual gridiron.

Now closing in on 35 years of age, following a wholly unimpressive 2014 season marred by injuries and inconsistent play, Vick boldly stated the belief that he can still start in the NFL.

Instead of relying on old Madden ratings or new, sensational headlines, let’s take a quick look at Vick’s career trajectory and see if there is any validity to his statement.

The Wave Has Crested

The table below shows Vick’s Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics, both passing and rushing, for the 11 seasons he played the majority of his snaps at quarterback. (Vick was used primarily as a running back in 2009.)

NEP is an efficiency measure which shows the individual contribution made by a positional player, whether positive or negative, to his team’s point total. For more a more in-depth explanation of our metrics, check out our glossary.

YearPassing NEPPassing NEP/Drop BackPassing Success RateRushing NEPRushing NEP/AttemptRushing Success Rate

By almost every measure, 2014 was one of the worst years of Vick’s career from an efficiency standpoint. His -31.83 Passing NEP ranked 12th among the 13 quarterbacks that attempted between 100 and 300 drop backs.

But what might be even more surprising, was his lack of efficiency running the football, an asset that cemented Vick as a top-level signal-caller during the early part of his career. His -0.61 Rushing NEP ranked 15th among the 20 quarterbacks who accumulated 10 to 30 carries last season.

Up until the 2012 season, Vick was a dangerous weapon in the run game, something that no analyst can ever really dispute. But now three consecutive seasons into an athletic and efficiency decline, if Vick wants to continue playing, it’s safe to assume that he needs to be an above-average passer.

And looking at his career-long metrics above, that’s something that Vick has failed to be on a consistent basis thus far.

The Weak Link In Vick’s Game

Vick’s most efficient passing season, according to our metrics, was 2010 as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles -- he ranked 11th in Passing NEP out of the 30 quarterbacks that attempted 300 or more drop backs.

In 2011, he finished 12th among 29 passers with 300 or more drop backs.

But other than those two seasons, his “sweet spot” you could say, Vick has been a below-average passer for the majority of his career. Vick has ranked in the top half of Passing NEP among similar volume quarterbacks five times but inside the top third just once in his career.

Too Late To Turn The Corner?

Michael Vick was never known as a precision passer, but now that we’ve delved into just how inefficient he has been throwing the football over his career, it’s fair to question what his NFL future holds.

His rushing production has fallen off a cliff since 2012, which is probably to be expected from natural regression due to age.

And without that trump card, it’s difficult to envision a situation where Vick can play quarterback and be anything more than a replacement-level option, or worse.

Without an almost miraculous improvement in passing efficiency, or the discovery of the literal Fountain of Youth, Vick appears to be no more than a backup or third-string choice for an NFL team looking for emergency options at the position.