Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy made quite the splash Sunday night when he mentioned in passing the possibility of quarterback Michael Vick becoming a member of the Buffalo Bills in 2010. We discussed that story on Monday, but Dungy has now made further comments about what he terms "speculation" on Vick-to-Buffalo.
I've got three things to discuss briefly on the topic. After the jump: Dungy's contradiction, Dungy's opinion, and Dungy's assertion.
Here's what Dungy said on NBC's Football Night in America on Sunday night:
If (Philadelphia wants) him back, (Vick) has to stay there. If they don't, there are some teams looking for quarterbacks - Cleveland, St. Louis and Washington. But I think a dark horse is Buffalo... They talked originally. There was some communication there. I think that could be a good spot.
Here's what Dungy said today (text provided by Tim Graham):
I mentioned Cleveland, Washington and St. Louis as obvious teams, but stated that one, not-so-obvious choice could be Buffalo. I don't have any inside information but just feel that the Bills have some excellent players at their skill positions and could be a place where Michael - or any QB for that matter - would flourish.
Well, that's a fascinating little contradiction, is it not? (If you missed it, just read the bold words.)
Dungy is obviously very close to this situation. He's served as a mentor to Vick even before his release from prison, and without Dungy's presence, there's a very strong chance that Vick never makes it back into pro football, period. Dungy is a respected mind, and has almost innumerable coaching connections in the league. Any team that discussed signing Vick back in August would have been insane to not solicit Dungy's opinion on Vick and his reformation as a person.
Knowing what we know now, no matter how Dungy tried to amend that first claim today, it still appears more likely that Buffalo did contact Dungy about Vick and, for all we know, discussed the possibility of signing him. As I'm sure you all recall, there was a vicious little Internet rumor last August that the Bills were interested in him, and it was quickly shot down not just by the team, but by local media as well. Buffalo's interest may have only been exploratory, but at the very least, I'd be willing to bet that Buffalo placed a phone call to Dungy last August. I'd also be willing to bet that the call wasn't placed by Dick Jauron - he had, for better or worse (and I think we now have that answer), committed to Trent Edwards at that point. If that call was made, it came from a more important office than Jauron's.
As ESPN's Graham pointed out in this article, Dungy has some veiled, not-so-transparent viewpoints about the current quarterback situation in Buffalo.
... the Bills have some excellent players at their skill positions and could be a place where Michael - or any QB for that matter - would flourish.
Following logically, if any quarterback can flourish in Buffalo, why haven't Trent Edwards or Ryan Fitzpatrick this season? They must not be quarterbacks, right? It says something when a coach that tried to ride players like Trent Dilfer, Shaun King and Brad Johnson to post-season success thinks your quarterbacks stink.
Dungy's right. There are two things that can make or break a coach in the NFL: having a good quarterback, or having a dominant defense. Dungy took Tampa Bay to the playoffs in four of six seasons thanks largely to building one of the NFL's most dominant defenses ever, but he got fired because he didn't have the quarterback to finish the job in the post-season. He won 85 games in seven seasons (and a Super Bowl) with Indianapolis for one big reason: Peyton Manning. I mentioned Dilfer and Johnson above - yes, both won championships, but both rode the coattails of dominant defenses. Notice, too, that both coaches they won with - Brian Billick and Jon Gruden - are out of football, and not of their own accord the way Dungy is.
It won't matter who that next head coach is, folks, unless he builds himself a legendary defense or finds himself a good quarterback. Which, of course, leads us to Dungy's assertion.
To assert something, you need to have an opinion, and vice versa. Clearly, Dungy still believes that Vick can play quarterback at a high level in the NFL. That's his opinion; his assertion, in the quote that I've mentioned twice now, is that Vick would flourish in Buffalo. And really, when talking about the possibility of Vick in a Bills uniform, isn't that all that matters?
Dungy himself has continuously stressed the fact that Vick needs an established, controlled environment to be an efficient person, let alone a good football player. Right now, that notion is nothing but a pipe dream in Buffalo. That's not to say that the Bills don't have solid individuals in their football hierarchy - there are clear advantages to having men like Russ Brandon, Tom Modrak and even Jauron around - but Ralph Wilson hasn't had a cohesive plan for his football team since Tom Donahoe's failure became apparent. For four years, the Bills have functioned without a true GM or a singular, visionary voice from the front office, and that's absolutely had a trickle-down effect to the team's play. If that doesn't change, any new coach/quarterback combination would be facing long odds right from the start.
On the field, though, it makes a bit more sense. Forgetting about all of Vick's misdeeds and the controversy that still surrounds those actions, and assuming that Vick's skills have not deteriorated to the point that he's only a shell of his former self, he'd certainly be the most established quarterback to play in Buffalo since Drew Bledsoe. No, that's not a particularly ringing endorsement, but the chance exists, at least, that Vick could resurrect his career in Buffalo. Again, question his quarterback abilities and his person all you want, but a 38-28-1 record is something many Bills fans would jump at without (many) question(s) right now.
This is a story that isn't going to die for a while, folks. It's pretty apparent that the Bills contacted Dungy about Vick this past August - and even if it was only exploratory, it's still interesting. Buffalo clearly needs a quarterback, and there's no guarantee that they'd be able to get their guy in next year's draft. It would take a minor miracle for Vick to resurrect his career anywhere, let alone in Buffalo, where the organization is in need of a massive face lift. But Wilson has proven in recent seasons that he'll make cosmetic changes rather than do things the right way, so Vick to Buffalo isn't completely out of the question. Feel free to continue to solidify your stance on the issue as we discuss in the comments section, but don't expect the story to go away.