Promising that “any day now, Michael Vick is going to find that he’s lost a step and some hungry young linebacker who wants a highlight on ESPN can now catch up to him a split-second before he makes it out of bounds,” The New York Sun’s Allen Barra hails the pure ability of Atlanta’s QB, but warns “it’s about time to wonder whether Vick will ever fulfill his potential or, maybe more to the point, if football is the sport his potential is really suited for.”

This is Vick’s sixth season; the closest he has come to winning anything substantial is second-round playoff losses in 2002 and 2004. He is almost certainly what most football commentators call him: the most exciting player in the league. But that is largely because he is so wildly inconsistent and, therefore, unpredictable. The Falcons’s offensive coordinator, Greg Knapp, has come under much fire for his inability to produce an effective offense with a talent like Vick to lead it. But how can you be a good coordinator with a quarterback who wants only to improvise?

His 2005 NFL passer rating was just 73.1, good for 25th in the league, and his career rating of 76.1 is considerably less than mediocre. If you don’t understand or trust the NFL’s passer rating, go with simple stats: Vick has played 63 NFL games and has completed less than 55% of his passes, which means he misses nearly as often as he connects. He is only 20% more likely to throw a touchdown pass than an interception, and in the all-important stat of yards per throw, he’s at just 6.7, which has put him in the bottom half of the league’s passers since 2001.

How bad are things looking for Vick after Monday’s loss to the Saints? So poor, that I hear Matt Leinart’s about to become the starting quarterback in those Briscoe High commercials.