Michael Vick

Posted: September 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 34 Comments »

There is no doubt that we’re all a bit concerned about Michael Vick.  Just 6 weeks ago, confidence was sky high.  Vick was healthy.  He was coming off a full offseason as the starting QB and had tons of time to work on the nuances of his game.  We were finally going to see Vick’s natural ability mixed in with the polish of the Eagles QB gurus.  Life was going to be good.

And then came the preseason opener vs Pittsburgh.

Demetress Bell was a mess at LT and really hurt the offense.  What bothered me just as much was how Vick looked.  He wasn’t the confident leader we’ve grown to know.  Vick looked hesitant and confused.  He banged his thumb on a helmet and that ended his night.  The next time out he once again looked bad.  He took a tough hit in that game and had to leave early.  Vick finished the preseason 4 for 7 for 11 yards.  All the completions were short, obviously.  I think we had 1 first down with Vick on the field.  No points.

That really bugged me.  I don’t mind a guy being rusty or getting hurt, but Vick looked completely behind the rest of the team.  This wasn’t about the OL struggling and that being the big problem.  This was Vick.  We saw Nick Foles step in and play with confidence.  He looked like the poised veteran and Vick the confused rookie.

My hope was that Vick would shake off the rust and emerge from his funk in Cleveland.  Oops.  Didn’t happen.  In his defense, Vick started off well last week.  He was 3 for 3 for 20 yards.  He had a 24-yard pass to Shady nullified by a Maclin penalty.  Vick also scrambled for 16 yards to move the chains on 3rd/15.  That drive ended in a fumble.

The next drive he began 3 for 3 for 33 yards.  Penalties started to be a problem.  His first incompletion came on 2nd/11.  His next pass was picked off and that came on 2nd/21.

It seems like Vick was doing well when going off the scripted plays, but playing behind the chains likely caused the team to go off the script and also put Vick in pressure situations.  That’s when he started to make mistakes.  Once that happened, the wheels came off.

Vick did get better on the final 2 drives of the game.  He made the awful decision when he threw the ball to the LB in the endzone, but got lucky when the LB dropped it.  Beyond that, Vick looked like the guy we expected to see this year.

What does all of this mean moving forward?  Will we get the Vick from the final couple of drives?  Will we get the guy who threw 4 INTs and made poor decisions over and over?  What is going on with Vick?

Derek put up an interesting post at Iggles Blog.  He questioned whether Vick has been over-coached and that has buried his great natural ability because he’s trying to do as he’s been taught.  I’ve also wondered about this myself and think it is a valid question.  We all hoped that the coaching would bring out the best in Vick because it would enhance his natural gifts.  That won’t work if Vick is thinking too much and the coaching stuff isn’t natural to him.

Based on the summer and opener…the results are pretty scary.  That said, this can all change in a hurry.  There were times in the opener when Vick did look good.  The fact he struggled overall doesn’t mean that’s the way he’ll play this year.  We need to see another 2 or 3 games to truly get a feel for where Vick is at.

Any talk of benching Vick is premature.  He has too strong of a track record to sit him based on a poor game.  As I pointed out the other day, Drew Brees was just 24 of 52 last week.  Aaron Rodgers has made some bonehead throws.  He threw the ball right to linebackers in both of his first two games.  One was picked, one dropped.  Matt Stafford threw 3 INTs in the opener.  Overreacting to one game would be a big mistake.

You also don’t ignore it.  Vick now must be under more scrutiny.  If he plays poorly for the next couple of weeks, then you have the discussion about benching him for Nick Foles.  I hope Vick gets his game turned around, but there are no guarantees.

Some have asked about whether the coaches should just let Vick do his thing and run around and make plays.  The Falcons had some success, even in the playoffs.  Let’s look at Vick’s playoff wins.

ATL 27, GB 7 … Vick was 13-25-117, ran 10-64 … Falcons blocked a punt and played great defense

ATL 47, STL 17 … Vick 12-16-82, ran 8-119 … RBs totaled 208 rushing yards, also a PR for TD

In playoff losses with Vick, the Falcons scored 6 and 10 points.  In other words, they needed STs and defense to dominate and a great rushing attack to win.  You can’t win a Super Bowl like that anymore.  You must be able to throw the ball.  The notion of Vick going back to the ATL stuff doesn’t make sense.

As for having him play like he did in 2010, that would be great except that the NFL started to catch up with Vick late in the year.  The Vikings used the slot blitz to get the best of Vick.  The Packers didn’t shut him down in the Wildcard game that year, but they did keep him under control.  The offense stalled in scoring territory and finished with 16 points.  David Akers missed a pair of FGs and Riley Cooper failed to break up an INT in the endzone late in the game.

I don’t know what specific things need to be done to help Vick, but I hope he and the coaches figure something out.  Folesmania was fun this summer, but let’s be realistic.  Vick is this team’s best hope for 2012.  We need him to start playing like the talented, veteran QB that he is.

* * * * *

I’ll have more about the Ravens game later.

Jimmy Bama and I did a game preview podcast.  We also managed to talk about Ian Beckles.  How’s that for weird?

* * * * *

David Syvertsen posted some college players to watch today.


34 Comments on “Michael Vick”

  1. 1 iskar36 said at 11:48 AM on September 15th, 2012:

    Great post Tommy. I agree with a lot that you said here. My one concern is that for us to truly be successful this season, Vick needs to play at his 2010 level or better. I have a lot of questions about whether or not he can realistically do that. I doubt the Vick we see for most of the season will be the same Vick we saw against the Browns. You’re right, we know he is better than that. The question remains though, how much better. The two big things he still has to master are handling the blitz and eliminating turnovers. Based on the Browns game, he didn’t do that successfully. We’ll see if he can make the necessary adjustments for the rest of the season though.

  2. 2 Alex Karklins said at 12:26 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    I really don’t think Vick has to play at his 2010 level to be successful. He just has to get the ball to his playmakers and avoid turning the ball over. That’s easier said than done when you have a QB who is capable of taking over a game and who probably feels the need to do exactly that every time he steps on the field. I want to see the Michael Vick from last year’s first game against Dallas every week; I don’t need to see the Michael Vick from the 2010 Redskins MNF game (although I wouldn’t complain).

  3. 3 izzylangfan said at 1:12 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Well if you believe in mean reversion, then Vick might only throw one or two interceptions a game. If he actually improves then we might get one or less per game. The question for me is: How many interceptions per game can he average and still lead the Eagles to 11+ wins? Then the question becomes: What is the likelihood of that?

  4. 4 Alex Karklins said at 1:29 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    See what happens when you talk about Ian Beckles? http://deadspin.com/5943538/remember-ian-beckles-neither-do-we-but-he-got-arrested-last-night-for-drunkenly-touching-a-horse

    I hope you will refrain from ever talking about me on your podcast. I don’t need the Lawlor/Kempski curse putting me in the papers the following day.

  5. 5 ACViking said at 2:47 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    May mean something. May mean nothing.

    McNabb was 33 when he imploded in D.C.

    Vick is 32 now. And — speaking as an ex-federal prosecutor and now-criminal defense attorney — prison time is hard time.

    Again, may not mean anything.

  6. 6 TommyLawlor said at 3:01 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    This is also the age when Steve Young put everything together in SF and became a great QB.

  7. 7 saltyyambag said at 2:07 AM on September 16th, 2012:

    Was that also the same year Steve Young got benched while receiving a thumping at the hands of Charlie Garner and the Eagles? He turned things around after an embarrassing game while many questioned whether he would ever figure it out. Let’s hope for the same.

  8. 8 aceandson said at 3:03 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    I first read this as “ex-federal prisoner” and thought “damn, don’t cross that guy”.

  9. 9 ACViking said at 3:27 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    There’s still plenty of time for that, too!

  10. 10 TommyLawlor said at 7:08 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Why do you think he’s got all that time to study Eagles history?

  11. 11 P_P_K said at 3:33 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    @If Donovan had better receivers.

    I can only imagine he must have thought the same thing. He was throwing to Thrash and Pinkston. Bet he’d have enjoyed Jackson and Maclin.

  12. 12 Osiris said at 11:24 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Former Eagles’ scrambler Randall Cunningham was 35 years old when he led the 1998 Minnesota Vikings to a 15-1 record. He took over for an injured Brad Johnson early in the season, and led a prolific offense. Then Johnson healed and Cunningham got benched again. The, of course, Johnson immediately gets hurt again. Cunningham takes the team to the playoffs. The kicker misses his first kick of the season in the playoffs. Nonetheless, it was a great year filled with big plays from Cunningham’s arm to Randy Moss’s hands. The old man had, quite possibly, the best season of his career.

  13. 13 ACViking said at 3:29 PM on September 15th, 2012:


    Sounds like your alluding to 1990 when we heard “Let Randall be Randall”? He had his best year that season statistically.

    But that was not his best year a QB. His best season was 1998 when he sat back in the pocket for the Vikings and heaved the ball deep to Randy Moss, or on out routes to Chris Carter, or up the seam to Jake Reed.

    None of the Eagles receivers are particularly big — in contrast to those Viking WRs. Nor are the Birds receivers as good as Randy Moss/Chris Carter circa 1998.

    Cunningham was sacked only 20 times all season in 1998. And he ran the ball, including kneel-downs, only 32 times. (The Vikings pass stats from ’98 seem to suggest that the team went max-protect quite a bit and let Moss, Carter and Reed fight for the ball. Each one of them was at least 6’3″ 220 lbs.)

    Right now, Vick seems very mechanical in the pocket on 3- to 5-step drops. But on 7-step drops, he looks like a different QB. (Don’t know if the stats bear that out.)

    One thing’s for sure, no QB who ran N-S as much as Vick has ever won a SB. Terry Bradshaw never ran more than 35 times in a SB season for the Steelers. Elway and Montana never topped 50 in their SB winning seasons. Steve Young hit 58 carries in 16 games and Roger Staubach ran the ball 41 and 55 times in his SB winning 14-game seasons. In 2010, Aaron Rodgers ran the ball only 64 times in 16 games.

    But last year, playing just 13 games, Vick ran the ball 76 times — more than 15 percent more than Aaron Rodgers in 2010 . . . in 3 less games.

    Letting Vick be Vick may pay dividends in the regular season. But the playoffs just seem like another universe . . . which we saw in 1988-90 with Randall.

    When D-Mac was here, whatever his reasons, his reluctance to run the ball was structurally consistent with SB winning schemes. (If he’d had better WRs, maybe he’d have have won at least 1 SB title and possibly still be here.)

    In 2012, for the Eagles to make a deep post-season run, Vick’s going to have to improve his pocket-presence and awareness — especially with those blind-side DB blitzes. For reasons that seem maddening, Vick’s not solved that problem . . . and I”m assuming the problem is not with the coaches.

    And Vick’s gonna have to run the ball less and throw it more.

    Just a theory — as long as teams beat him up on the blind side.

  14. 14 James Casagrande said at 3:35 PM on September 15th, 2012:


    I have a problem with this statement:
    “he has too strong of a track record to sit him based on a poor game.”

    What track record are we talking about? A 10 game stretch in 2010, or the rest of his entire career? It’s time to give serious consideration to the fact that he a) hasn’t played well since two seasons ago, and b) he has become complacent and has lost the motivation that federal prison gave him to become a more disciplined QB?

    What’s more, there is a clear and repeated formula for beating him that has been in place since week 15 of 2010: blitz your LBs and secondary all you want (particularly force him to his right) because there is no repercussion for doing so, as he has no ability to make you pay.

    “Folesmania was fun this summer, but let’s be realistic. Vick is this team’s best hope for 2012. ”

    I think you’re being waaay too dismissive of this notion. When a team is as talented as ours appears to be, a “game manager” would be better than someone whose going to kill you with mistakes. I know it’s Overreaction Week, but just own this sentence: Trent Edwards would’ve won that game 35-10.

  15. 15 P_P_K said at 5:13 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    I hate to say it, but you’re probably right about Edwards.

  16. 16 TommyLawlor said at 7:06 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Trent Edwards would not have blown out the Browns on Sunday. Maybe won, but not blow them out.

    Vick is now 16-9 as the starting QB for the Eagles. That’s a good track record. He was only 7-6 last year, but don’t blame him for every mistake. Henery missed 2 FGs vs SF. Avant fumbled vs BUF. Mac dropped pass vs ATL. Mac fumbled vs SF. The defense had all kinds of issues in the season.

    Michael Vick does have a good track record as the Eagles starting QB. In order to bench him you need to see such poor play that you set aside the track record. Let’s see what he does vs the Ravens before judging him. If he is awful, he’s closer to being benched. If he’s so-so, then he remains in limbo. If he’s good, then he’s safe for now.

  17. 17 izzylangfan said at 8:54 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    You need to play well enough to compensate for your mistakes. Mistakes are going to happen but they cannot happen in profusion as Vicks interceptions. Henery’s mistakes, both in the same game, could have been offset by one TD. In the case of Maclin and Avant’s mistakes we were already in dire straits due to extended stretches of horrible play. Its OK to make some mistakes if you can play lights out for a 10 to 20 minute stretch once or twice in a game. This is what the Eagles have been missing over the last 10 years. We need our defense just to demolish the QB or something for an extended period and then for Vick to read the blitz and hit 10 passes in a row every once in a while. Then, maybe we could win a playoff game.

  18. 18 P_P_K said at 3:55 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    I agree with Derek. Srongly agree. Anyone in any field related to education and instruction knows that, ultimately, you have to work within the paramters of the skill sets that a person brings to the table. I am concerned that Reid, once again, is convinced he is so smart that whatever he thinks up is bound to work. In this case, turn Vick into a “complete” qb, or some Frankenstein-like creature.

    I also disagree with the idea that Andy is some kind of qb whisperer. For starters, his track record isn’t that great. Yea, he scored with Donovan, but D-Mac was such a fine talent coming out of college that he likely would have succeeded just about anywhere, under any coach. Andy’s other two qb picks who he had time to groom — Kolb & Kafka — are busts, at least in terms of playing for the Eagles. That leaves Mike (way to early to discuss Foles). Andy may have so much riding on Vick’s redemption and success that he is blind to what is possible and, more importantly, what is either impossible or unlikely.

    I sometimes think Andy is like a character out of a fable or something — the man who would be the victorious hero except he refuses to deal with his one character flaw or blind-spot, resulting in his losing his whole kingdom.

    Or, maybe Vick was just rusty…

  19. 19 miked718 said at 6:44 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    I think this is the direction we should be heading with this inquiry. Vick obviously has his skills and his limitations, which have been discussed plenty. The fact remains that the guy can run and can throw lasers directly on target. He is also short, doesn’t go through progressions well, and wait for it, stop me if you’ve heard this, injury prone (dude doesn’t like to slide, I don’t like ketchup, whatchugonnado). Reid is the big IF here to me (and Marty). If Reid can use that melon and put Vick in situations where his skills are maximized, Vick could be a winner for sure. He has a good defense and tons of weapons and a decent OL. I’ve never been one calling for Reid’s head, although I wish he had an intern who watched the clock and timeouts. But perhaps he’s lost his mojo. Or he’s just distracted. Let’s not forget his son OD’d at training camp. At some point the desire to create a winner has got to wain, especially when youve had sustained success. Against the Ravens, I think Reid should be under the microscope more than Vick.

  20. 20 A_T_G said at 8:58 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    I completely agree, ketsup is overrated.

  21. 21 TommyLawlor said at 10:03 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Wrong. I love catsup.

  22. 22 Bleedgreen said at 8:02 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Long time reader, firat time posting but does Anybody know a good eagles bar in new Orleans? My dad and I are road griping from Philly to Arizona to see them play in Phoenix but we’ll be in new Orleans for the game tomorrow so we wanted to go to a bar where we could find some eagles fans

  23. 23 TommyLawlor said at 10:02 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Just posed the question on Twitter. Will pass along any responses.

  24. 24 TommyLawlor said at 10:25 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Per someone on Twitter:

    lafeets blacksmith shop! Oldest bar in America

  25. 25 Bleedgreen said at 10:29 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Thanks tommy! Keep up the good work. I love reading this blog. There’s no better place to get in-depth, thoughtful analysis for the eagles

  26. 26 Jack Bauer said at 10:33 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Just replied to Tommy on Twitter, but the best Sports Bar in town is Cooter Browns Tavern and Oyster Bar (Watched the 03 NFC Title game there sad face). Not too many sports Bars in the city and this one’s uptown. Laffites is in the quarter, but I think they may have only 1 TV. Which means if dem saints be playin they be on de TV

  27. 27 phillychuck said at 8:38 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Tommy, you started out with something that really made me think–WHY were we all thinking we’d see the early 2010 Vick again? There was really no evidence that he “got” the system, or had improved any of his flaws. He was decent in the last 4 games last year, but not great, and still showed the same weaknesses. I think we talked ourselves into unreasonable hope. Tomorrow will help us tell…

  28. 28 TommyLawlor said at 10:01 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    We thought the progress happened this spring. Vick was at NovaCare every day, working in the tape room and on the practice field.

  29. 29 phillychuck said at 12:20 AM on September 16th, 2012:

    And I guess my point was we were completely speculating; wishcasting. We had no legitimate reason to think he was getting any better. It’s very possible to work really hard at something and not improve. I think we irrationally discounted that possibility.

  30. 30 Osiris said at 11:01 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Vick is a special type of player. He’s not just a scrambler or a playmaker; he’s a daredevil. Or, to borrow the term from last election-cycle, he’s a maverick. Sure, guys like Randall Cunningham come to mind. The comparisons are obvious. But also guys like Brett Favre and Philip Rivers come to mind, too. The reckless talents can thrill or frustrate on any given Sunday.

    When Vick is in his Superman mode, it’s like watching a man leap from a tall building and fly. That Redskins game a few years back — it’s like that. When Vick doesn’t have it, though, it’s like watching a man leap from a tall building and fall. The same thing could be said for Favre. We’ve all seen his 4 interception games. We’ve also seen him successfully make the plays that shouldn’t even be possible of being made.

    Favre’s disdain for “Checkdown Charlies” has been recorded. With Vick, though, something has got to give. The Eagles have so much talent and run after the catch capabilities; it’s foolish to not occasionally check it down. Any checkdown could become a big play. More importantly, any checkdown can set up a big play.

    With that said, I get Vick not going for checkdowns or even staying in the pocket when he’s having his Superman days. When he is feeling it, he should play his game. Hulks must hulk. But when he’s in his weakened, not quite there, Bruce Banner mode, he has got to allow for his teammates to make the plays. I know that there’s that temptation to look for DeSean deep while falling out of bounds with two defenders on his hip — but sometimes it’s better to just give the ball away sooner to McCoy. He’s a Superhero, too.

    Oh, and regarding that little win in Green Bay that Atlanta had under Vick’s command. It was the first home playoff loss in Packer history. Traditional, safe QBs had been in there and lost many times over. Sometimes it takes someone brave enough to defy convention to end tradition.

    Traditionally, the Eagles don’t win the Super Bowl. I’d like to buck that tradition for once.

    Regarding Derek’s post, as a society, we used to force left handed people to be right handed ones. It was terribly detrimental on a number of levels. Sometimes you just have to let lefties be lefties (or daredevils be daredevils). Supporting them in their journey to becoming better lefties is key. Making sure that everyone around them understands them, including the line, is even better.

    I mean, come on, Eagles can’t fly on a leash.

    Adding a couple of checkdowns and a few more running plays every once in a while will help. Adjusting the playcalling will help. But overall the team’s other heroes, like McCoy, have to just step up around him when he’s struggling and take the challenge. On the days that he’s superheroic, everyone just needs to get out of the way and enjoy the show.

  31. 31 Baloophi said at 11:13 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Kudos to the Iggles Blitz nation for the number of long, well-reasoned responses to this post. After weighing the relative arguments both for and against Vick, all I can say is Dallas sucks.

  32. 32 TommyLawlor said at 11:38 PM on September 15th, 2012:

    Excellent job of pandering.

  33. 33 austinfan said at 9:13 AM on September 16th, 2012:

    Actually, I’m starting to think that MM is more of a problem than Vick. MM is reminding me of Norv Turner and Martz in Chicago, stubborn adherence to a big play scheme that racks up points against mediocre defenses but struggles against good teams (or teams that play good defense). Vick was rusty, so what does MM dial up? Lot’s of deep routes and Cleveland plays its safeties 15 yards deep, intermixed with DB blitzes. Where have we seen this movie before?

    In the real NFL world, only 10% of throws travel more than 20 yards beyond the LOS, Vick throws more like 15% of his throws – some of that is Vick, most is game planning – gee, we have fast WRs and Vick has a great arm . . . DCs can see that too.

    It’s not surprising that Vick played better last year down the stretch when they dialed it back, Celek became a key outlet target and Vick started throwing the ball away. Somewhat like 2008 when they rode a ball control offense to the NFCCG after a slow start trying to air it out, or the same in 2006 when Garcia replaced McNabb. Big plays should come out of your scheme, not be the focus of your scheme.

    Now I’m not going to panic until the bye week, I’ve seen too many QBs stink out the joint and come back a week later and light it up. Vick needed to get the rust out, but hopefully Andy put MM in a small room with bright lights and a rubber hose, and beat the “let’s jump to an early lead” nonsense out of him. When you potentially have a great defense, you want an efficient, not an explosive, offense. Save the schoolyard “everyone go long” crap for when you’re down 10 points in the 4th Q with 5 minutes left.

  34. 34 pricebe said at 9:16 AM on September 16th, 2012:

    On Andy’s theory that QBing is like a shooter in basketball:
    “Lions QB Matthew Stafford had a horrific start to last week’s game. In helping the Rams stay with Detroit, Stafford threw three picks and never looked comfortable. The way St. Louis was playing, it looked like an upset was about to happen. Except… Stafford kept throwing. He kept firing. Even as inaccurate as he was, even with the gaffes he made, he ended up throwing 48 passes, including the game-winner to RB Kevin Smith. I wondered if he ever had any doubts.When I caught up with him when he was promoting Van Heusen, I asked him exactly that. Didn’t you, ya know, wonder what the heck was going on? How do you stay with it? Stafford provided an interesting perspective. “It’s the only thing you can do,” Stafford told me. “I was talking to Shaun Hill after the game. He came up to me, was like, ‘That was one of those instances where you’re either going to throw your first touchdown or your fourth pick.’ And that’s the attitude you have to have. You gotta go out there and sling it and keep going. And everybody thinks about those basketball guys, big shooters, and they gotta shoot themselves out of slumps. Same thing for quarterbacks. You gotta keep playing, understanding your luck’s going to change, and our guys started making plays. We were able to move the ball down the field and score a couple of late TDs.””