Vick looking to bounce back from his "break"
In 1998, the Atlanta Falcons enjoyed the greatest
season of their 38 years in the National Football League. The team finished with an amazing 14-2 record
and won their second NFC West title. In the playoffs the Falcons
faced off against their divisional foe the San Francisco 49ers
and won 20-18. The NFC championship game against the Minnesota
Vikings was so great that four quarters couldn’t even hold
the game. The Falcons kicked a field goal in overtime and won
the game 30-27. The “Dirty Birds” made their way to
Super Bowl XXXIII with a great deal of confidence and a swagger.
The Denver Broncos knocked out any kind of swagger that the Falcons
might have had coming into the game and defeated them 34-19.
After the ‘98 season the Falcons went into a tailspin due
largely in part to injuries and accumulated a 16-32 record over
the next three seasons. That’s when their, and the NFL’s,
next big thing Michael Vick declared himself eligible for the
2002 draft. Michael Vick is no doubt a once in a generation, if
not the only player ever that can do the types of things that
he does. Vick is in the same mold of Donavon McNabb and Daunte
Culpepper in the sense that he can beat you with his arms and
with his legs. There are only a few differences between Vick and
the other two quarterbacks, like the fact that he’s faster
and has a better arm then both of them. Vick is considered by
many to be the fastest and most electrifying player in the NFL.
He consistently makes the night's highlight reel and was a huge
hit at the falcon box office, increasing Falcons ticket sales immediatly. He is the guy that most NFL General
Managers would choose to build a team around. Michael Vick moves
around like he’s a 5th grader playing against a bunch of
1st graders. As a rookie Vick led the Falcons to a 9-6-1 record
and to the 2002 playoffs for the first time since ’98. In
the playoffs Vick faced off against Brett Favre’s Green
Bay Packers in Green Bay. The Falcons blasted the Packers 27-7
and gave Green Bay its first playoff home loss ever at Lambeau
Field. Vick suffered a leg injury in the preseason and missed
all but eight games starting only two of them. With a lack of
Vick the Falcons only managed a 5-11 record.
In the off-season the Falcons filled in a lot of gaps
that they had in their roster. The team brought in Jim
Mora Jr. to be the new Head Coach filling the position
that Dan Reeves vacated with three games left in the
season. They picked up a few high profile free agents
in guard Eric Beverly, quarterback Ty Detmer and wide
receiver Dez White. Beverly should help out the Falcons
in their thin offensive line corps, and Detmer will give
the team a serviceable quarterback in case Vick goes
down again this season.
In the draft the Falcons made some good pick ups. They picked
up Virginia Tech cornerback DeAngelo Hall who is a freak of nature.
Hall holds the record for the fastest 40 yard dash time at Virginia
Tech, where Vick left for the NFL, with a 4.15 time. They also
drafted Ohio State wide receiver Mike Jenkins. Jenkins is expected
to fight for the receiver slot that will line up opposite of Peerless
Price with veterans Brian Finneran and Dez White.
The offense really suffered without the presence of Vick.
The team finished 31st in pass offense and 30th in total
offense. With the return of Vick running backs T.J. Duckett
and Warrick Dunn shouldn’t see quite as many seven
and eight man fronts that they saw in the 2003 campaign.
The defensive side of the ball didn’t seem to be
thriving like they did the year before either. They finished
32nd in total defense last year. Standouts defensive
end Patrick Kearney and linebacker Keith Brooking are
looking to improve the defense next year. At least the
defense can’t get any worse then they were in 2003.
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