Every week, check out Freelance Friday, featuring a rising journalist who is (ahem) a few decades younger than me. See their take on . . . whatever.
BY DAVID SCHIELE
For some reason, Atlanta Falcons fans started the new year resurrecting the Matt Ryan versus Michael Vick debate on social media. I don’t understand why, but folks argued about who was the better quarterback for their franchise. You had the flashy Vick thrilling crowds with his legs after the turn of the century, and now you have the efficient Ryan using his right arm to torture defensive backs on a consistent basis.
Let me get this out the way first: Neither Vick nor Ryan cares about this debate. That’s mainly because they’re friends. Vick stated that he and Ryan have “a great relationship” in his Players Tribune article from 2017. They’ve gone out to eat multiple times, and they’ve shared laughs through the years.
They also have other things to worry about.
Ryan is on the verge of getting his fifth offensive coordinator since 2008, while Vick will become a rookie coach as an offensive coordinator of the Atlanta Legends, one of the inaugural teams for the new Alliance of American Football League.
Without question, Ryan is a better quarterback than Vick ever was, and I’m someone who idolized Vick as a kid growing up in Lithia Springs, Ga. I owned his jersey and hung posters and banners that featured the dual-threat signal caller on my bedroom wall.
This comparison is completely lopsided when you look at the passing statistics (Ryan smokes Vick). Not only that, but the same thing applies to the rushing numbers (Vick clobbers Ryan). Excluding 2001 and 2003 that saw Vick start a combined six games, he recorded just a 54.8 completion percentage as Falcons quarterback. That ranks in the bottom half of the NFL passing stats from 2002 to 2006. His completion rate was lower than Joey Harrington—infamous Falcons quarterback from 2007—and former New Orleans Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks, Vick’s cousin and the owner of an underwhelming arm.
In 2002, Vick had his best passing year in Atlanta with 2,936 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. At best, that is in the vicinity of Ryan’s rookie year in 2008, when he threw for 3,440 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Then there’s this: Ryan has thrown for more than 4,000 yards during each of the last eight seasons. Vick’s closest attempt at reaching that number came in 2011 with the Philadelphia Eagles (3,303 yards). Additionally, Ryan hasn’t missed a game since 2009, when he dealt with a turf toe injury. Vick, however, only started all 16 games once for the Falcons. In his other years as starter, he missed at least one game due to aches and pains.
Take everything I’ve just said and add that Ryan won the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award in 2016 while also producing four Pro Bowl seasons (and others that were close) despite operating with four different offensive coordinators.
So this Ryan-Vick debate is silly, but as a Falcons fan, I just delivered the definitive reasons for the madness to stop.
Although, it probably won’t.
David Schiele graduated in December from Georgia State as a journalism major and an African American studies minor. He’s the former sports director of GSU’s student TV station. In his free time, David watches pro wrestling, plays video games, and reads. Follow him on twitter @Deacon_Schiele