The Pittsburgh Steelers are rumored to be changing their offense for Michael Vick, simplifying the effective attack that was led by the now-injured Ben Roethlisberger in a move that could sink the team's playoff hopes.
The Steelers took a big hit last week when Ben Roethlisberger was taken down awkwardly against the St. Louis Rams and injured his knee. While some of the initial rumors indicated that Roethlisberger could be out for the season, the Steelers quarterback will only be out about a month.
That leaves the reins with Michael Vick, who signed with the Steelers late in the preseason and now will be tasked with leading one of the most talented offenses in the NFL.
But with a short week and a Thursday night game against the Baltimore Ravens, the Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly simplifying the offense. As Sports World News noted, Michael Vick has struggled in the past when coming in on short notice. He got in a bit of trouble last year when he replaced Geno Smith against the San Diego Chargers and later admitted that he wasn't fully prepared.
"Maybe I didn't prepare or I wasn't prepared, but I'll tell you what, it won't happen again," Vick said last year, via CBS Sports.
This time, Vick seems much more sure of himself.
"I've got plenty of confidence; I feel like this is what I was born to do," Vick said. "I'm not a young guy anymore; I'm a seasoned veteran. It's a short week, but we're all professionals. Just got to get in [Monday] and grind. It's still my normal routine."
Michael Vick would certainly have the experience in taking over for an injured starter, but the results are not always there. Vick struggled in coming in for Geno Smith last season, and it was with a Jets team lacking the talent that the Steelers have this year.
"With Ben Roethlisberger out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury, Michael Vick will get the start for the Steelers," ESPN noted on Thursday. "He had a 21.4 Total QBR last season, which ranked last in the NFL among passers with 100 attempts."
With Vick in at quarterback, teams may be able to key in on Le'Veon Bell and force Vick to the air.
"There should be some worry about a possible drop-off in overall production from the Steelers' offense with Roethlisberger out," former NFL safety Matt Bowen told ESPN.com. "Now, Vick is not a rookie or a young quarterback who lacks experience. He has played a lot of football, but defenses will attack Pittsburgh differently without Ben behind center. I expect opposing teams to load the box versus Le'Veon Bell and challenge Vick to beat them with the passing game. Drop a safety down and take your chances with Vick fitting the ball into tight windows versus zone coverage or use combination man-schemes (such as a bracket or cloud look) to limit Antonio Brown."
The stretch could be a very important one for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The team currently sits No. 2 in the AFC North behind the Cincinnati Bengals, and will be facing a Ravens squad off to its first ever 0-3 start, one hungry for a win.
If the Pittsburgh Steelers falter under Michael Vick, they could not only lose critical ground in the division but also get into a hole in the wild card race, which looks to be tightening up. The New England Patriots seem to once again have a solid grasp on the AFC East, but their dominance could mean a 10 or 11-win Buffalo Bills team will be looking to snatch a wild card spot.
[Pictures by Dilip Vishwanat, Brett Carlsen, Jared Wickerham/ Getty Images]