Over the course of the past two seasons, Bruce Gradkowski, the backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers during that time, did not log a meaningful snap in a regular season game. He played just seven snaps to close out a blowout victory when the team rested some of its key starters.
Yesterday, the Steelers’ new backup, Michael Vick, was forced to come in to play in his third game with the team, logging 15 snaps in the second half for a total that was limited only by the offense’s ineffectiveness, and not by the time left in the game.
And that could very well be a concern heading into Thursday’s divisional showdown with the Ravens, because the Steelers simply will not score a point if the offense plays as it did with Vick in the game yesterday against the Rams. While there were a number of factors at play, much of the trouble can be traced back to Vick’s performance specifically.
When Vick signed with the Jets last offseason and was forced into a game, he acknowledged after the fact that he was not prepared, because he was unaccustomed to the life of the backup quarterback, and thus stopped preparing for games as a starter would, which is part of the backup quarterback’s job.
Based purely on how he looked, it would be hard to dispute the notion that Vick failed to properly prepare for the contingency of being forced to play in the game yesterday against the Rams, during which he completed five of six passes, most of them dump offs, for 38 yards, twice rushing for 1- yard and also being dropped for a sack twice on consecutive plays.
The veteran quarterback came into the game cold, naturally, as is always the case involving an injury to a starting quarterback, and his first play faced was a third and 23. He proceeded to dump the ball off to Le’Veon Bell for three yards, with the running back seeming a bit surprised to have been given the ball.
Vick led the offense for 14 more plays over the span of four drives that did not result in kneel downs, twice going three and out. On the other two drives, the offense converted a first down on the first play of the drive and them promptly stalled.
On his final drive, Vick was unable to lead his receiver on a pass on third and nine that prevented him from having an opportunity to convert a first down, which would have been critical at that point in the game, instead picking up seven yards. He also displayed a familiar lack of ball security.
If Vick failed to properly prepare for this game, then that is a problem in and of itself, but at this point, you have to hope that that was the case, because if that was how he looks when properly prepared, then the Steelers are going to have trouble moving the football for the rest of the time that Ben Roethlisberger misses, starting Thursday night.