Vick it.

Mike Vick and the Vickans, err, Falcons roll into Charlotte this weekend for their first meeting of the 2004 season. Maybe you've heard of him. He's the owner of that Red/Black/White #7 jersey that you are now seeing in your sleep...

You've seen him pimped on commercials, in print, and on the web. Michael Vick is everywhere. He's been featured in high-profile commercial campaigns and has been the centerpiece of the Atlanta Falcons' franchise total reconstruction from the ground up.

Even when he was injured in 2003, he was the talk of the NFL. How he was injured, how the Falcons suffered without him, and how he'd dominate when he got back.

Last season, Vick helped lead the Falcons to an overtime win against the Panthers in his first game back. Vick was 16 of 33 passing for 179 yards, no touchdowns and 1 interception. He was sacked 3 times, and fumbled once. However, Vick also ran 14 times for 141 yards, with a long of 43 yards and 1 touchdown. The Panthers allowed 224 yards rushing total in that game, however, and this is a big however, Dan Morgan and Mark Fields both did not play in that contest. Carolina sorely missed their linebackers, as the statistics would indicate.

This season, Vick has been less than stellar. The Falcons are 3-0, but Vick has yet to shine, save for a career-long 56 yard scamper against the Cardinals. #7 has thrown two touchdowns and two interceptions in 4 games. He's fumbled twice against San Francisco in week 1, didn't fumble the next week against St. Louis, and twice again against the Cardinals for a total of 4 fumbles in 3 weeks. Vick has been sacked 5 times against Arizona, once against St. Louis, and 4 times against the 49ers, for a total of 10 sacks in 3 games. For the season, Vick has completed 37 of 61 passes for 457 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, for a QB rating of 81.1 in three games. Those are hardly numbers that would rank Vick even in the top half of the NFC, let alone the NFL, yet he remains the talk of the national radio and television stations.

ESPN's Joe Theisman can't talk enough about Vick. Every week, he pontificates about how great Vick is. This week, all of the ESPN analysts picked Carolina to win the upcoming game… except Theisman.

Even in Charlotte, North Carolina, at Concord Mills Mall, there were more Vick jerseys than Panthers jerseys during the summer… and this after a year where Vick missed most of the season, the Falcons were horrible, and the Panthers narrowly lost the Super Bowl. It's the sheer fact that he could explode at any minute for a mind-boggling run and change the course of a game like no one since Barry Sanders that puts those jerseys on the racks.

But just as soon as the Falcons can meteor to the top with Vick, they can plummet to the depths of the ocean without him, as the 2003 season would attest. Vick is vital in the Falcon's success, and if you can stop Vick, you stop the Falcons…

Or at least that is how it used to be.

Vick has played mediocre the last 3 weeks, and they've still won.

Can it be that there is more to the Falcons than just Vick?

Yes.

Just don't tell Joe Theisman that.

"The word "genius" isn't applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein." -- Joe Theisman

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