With Dennis Dixon preparing to face off against Vince Young in today�s battle in Tenn, it merits attention to the absurd shackling that has taken place thus far in Dixon�s young career.
Dixon has started 2 games in his NFL career, so it�s a small sample. Still, it warrants analysis.
In his lone start last season -- an emergency spot-start -- Dixon rushed 3 times for 27 yards. The lone intentional run went for 20 yards and a touchdown. During the entire game, Dixon was basically planted inside the pocket -- no boots, not rollouts, no waggles, no ad hoc scrambling.
Last week, Dixon carries TWICE, for 4 yards. Designed QB runs? NONE. Moving pockets? NONE. Waggles? NONE. Rollouts? NONE. Bootlegs? TWO -- one on the 2nd play of the game, good for 5 yards, and one at 2:16 4Q, good for 5 yards. Worse, Dixon was again shackled in the pocket, rarely ever scooting from pressure and rarely ever running designed plays that utilized his athleticism and ability to throw on the run.
Remember, it was Bruce Arians himself who pissed and moaned 3 weeks ago in the preseason, fretting about Dixon�s taking off and running.
Contrast this with Vince Young. Cold Hard Football Facts at SI.com does a superb analysis of Young, here: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/kerry_byrne/09/17/game.of.week/index.html
During his NFL career, Young rushed 83 times in 13 starts in 2006; 93 in 15 starts in 07; 55 in 10 starts in 09. Last week, he threw 17 passes and rushed 7 times.
Young has been fairly scattershot as a QB, but his win-loss record is incredibly good. Much of that has to be based on his ability to make a clutch play with his feet -- such as on 3rd & 5. As noted in this article:
�He does nothing right statistically. He's not accurate (57.9 percent career completions); not effective moving the ball via the pass (6.7 YPA, below the league-wide average of 6.9 YPA); not efficient (73.4 passer rating; well below the contemporary average of about 82.0); and not particularly productive or careful with the ball (career 34 TD passes vs. 39 INTs).
For most quarterbacks, those numbers spell a 4-12 season, no matter how good the ground game. For Young, it ends up a victory almost 70 percent of the time. We hate to use a popular clich�, but the Cold, Hard Football Facts agree: "All Vince Young does is win football games."
With athletic QB, it�s not always the run itself that produces yardage. It�s the THREAT of the run, which can suck LBs up toward the LOS and leave TEs, RBs, and WRs WIDE open on short crossers, flares, and outs. These cake-easy completions give the QB confidence; they move the chains; and they fluster a defense.
No one is asking or suggesting that Dixon tote the ball 28 times a game, or that he totally abandons the pocket on every pass play. Is it too much to ask for, though, to have an ultra-athletic QB being PERMITTED to run from pressure, and to run the occasional boot, roll, or waggle ?
You�ll hear the absurd babble about �they can�t afford to have Dixon get hurt�. Pure bullshit. For starters, the vast majority of QB injuries occur IN THE POCKET. From Terry Bradshaws being spiked by Turkey Jones, to Kimo von Olhofen tumbling into Carson LipBalmer�s knee, the majority of QB injuries are in the pocket, with the QB PLANTED and getting a blind side or a buckling hit. Further, football is a game of toughness, malice, and intensity. The minute any team starts pussyfooting around with pantywaist tactics to �avoid getting hurt�, that team has lost the game before it even gets off the bus.
You�ll hear the occasional babble and blather about how other defenses are �keying on Dixon and not letting him run�. Pure, patent, unadulterated bullshit. You can�t gain rushing yardage as a QB if you never run. Mike Vick came into the Eagles game last week stone cold -- and then ripped off 11 rushed for 103 yards. Anyone think the opposing defense was SURPRISED at his running? Was the opposing defense totally fooled that Vick would take off and run? Of course not. Often times, the better athlete wins the match up. Vince Young has made a living with his feet helping immensely. As Stiller fans, we�ll certainly see it today.
And that brings us back to Dixon, the man who�s been shackled more that a federal prisoner. Said the great Dick LeBeau, whom many consider to be the greatest, most almighty defensive coordinator ever in the NFL -- �Dennis is every bit as fast and as agile as their quarterback (V. Young)." The only difference is that their QB has a coordinator with something more than a half a brain.
(Still Mill and Stillers.com -- when it comes to the analysis of the Pittsburgh Stillers, no one else comes close�.)