Michael Vick "Fed Up" With Roughing-The-Passer Penalties

Michael Vick was "really, really irked" seeing Clay Matthews flagged for sacking Alex Smith

Tiki and Tierney
October 30, 2018 - 6:15 am

USA Today Images

You know the NFL has a problem when quarterbacks are defending the people who get paid to hit them.

But that, somehow, is reality in 2018.

“I’m kind of getting fed up with it,” former NFL quarterback Michael Vick said on Tiki and Tierney. “These last two calls that was made on Clay Matthews really, really irked me.”

Matthews has been flagged three times for roughing the passer this season. The last two – one for a hit on Kirk Cousins and one for a hit on Alex Smith – have sparked debate about what is (and what isn’t) a penalty. Many fans and analysts felt that both hits were clean.

“Listen, you’re changing the dynamic of a football game,” Vick said. “You’re changing the direction of a team. You have one team that could be ahead in the win-loss column and one team ties or (doesn’t) go on to win at all. This is just setting the NFL back.”

Vick understands what the NFL is doing – and why. But it’s possible the league has gone too far.

“Look, you got to protect the quarterbacks,” Vick said. “They are the marquee guys. They’re the marketing tools for the National Football League and for TV – and it makes sense. We all want to see Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees. We all want to see these guys. And I know being a quarterback myself, we all want to be out there. But we don’t want to change the integrity of the game over a couple hits. The onus is on the officials now. They have to do better.”

Vick, to be clear, doesn’t think that officials are punishing specific players.

“Listen, I don’t think they’re targeting guys,” he said. “I don’t think Clay Matthews has a bullseye on his back as one guy (to watch) in particular. I don’t think that’s the case. I think the refs are getting really, really comfortable and saying, ‘Look, we’re going to protect the quarterback at all costs.’ I don’t think they know when they should throw the flag now.”

While some hits are certainly late or excessive, many are not. When a sack presents itself, NFL players simply do not have time to strategize about how to hit a quarterback.

“These guys are coming at the quarterback in full-throttle,” Vick said. “There’s no way for them to slow down. It’s unfair to them. I’m taking sides with the defense now, with the defensive line. I don’t think it’s fair for them – or the game.”

Vick, the No. 1 overall pick in 2001, also discussed this year’s crop of rookie quarterbacks – and whether they should play right away or sit out a season.

“I think it’s important for them to just get out there and go,” Vick said. “You put them right into the starting lineup, and you get them comfortable. They have four-and-a-half months to get themselves ready to play their first game. You got the minicamps, you got OTAs, you got training camp, and then you got preseason. That’s a ton of reps. It’s more than enough time to learn, especially if they’re doing it with the 1s right out the gate. I don’t necessarily believe in holding guys back.”

When making this decision, teams must consider many factors, including the round in which players were drafted.

“If you pick them in the first round, you play them,” Vick said. “Now, second-, third-, fourth-rounders, there’s a reason they went that late. You work with them. They’re considered projects. But the guys who are drafted early, you put them out there and you let them roll. I’m excited to see the new faces in the NFL. Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, even Lamar Jackson – he’ll probably sit a little longer because of Flacco, but it’s great to see new, up-and-coming young quarterbacks in the league. It’s exciting.”

Vick joined Tiki and Tierney courtesy of Winview Games, which offers an innovative sports app. Click here for more information.