Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mike Check: Did Vick beat the blitz?

Michael Vick got knocked out of Sunday's game against the Falcons, but how did he perform in the first three quarters?

Mike Check: Did Vick beat the blitz?

Michael Vick did a good job against the blitz Sunday. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Michael Vick did a good job against the blitz Sunday. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Michael Vick got knocked out of Sunday's game against the Falcons, but how did he perform in the first three quarters?

The breakdown is below.

And if you're wondering about Mike Kafka, I posted a mini-version of his performance Tuesday night.

As always, let's start with pass distribution. Keep in mind these numbers are only for when Vick was in the game:

  Targets Catches Yards Drops
Jeremy Maclin 9 8 108 0
Brent Celek 7 4 43 1
Jason Avant 4 1 29 1
DeSean Jackson 3 2 21 1
Steve Smith 2 2 29 0
LeSean McCoy 2 2 12 0
TOTAL 27 19 242 3
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How about that production for Maclin? Vick completed 8 of 9 to him for 108 yards and two touchdowns. If you calculated the quarterback rating on Vick's throws to Maclin, it'd be 156.25.

Vick looked Celek's way quite a bit to varying degrees of success. Celek had one drop down near the goal line, but also had a 24-yard grab.

I counted a drop for Avant too, and Jackson had one in the end zone on a third down. It was a quiet game for Jackson, but as we've discussed in the past, he still impacts the game when he's not touching the ball.

Smith was targeted for the first time, finishing with a pair of catches. And McCoy hasn't really gotten going yet as a receiver with six catches for 36 yards through two games.

Vick's box score reads 19-for-28, but he threw one ball away. Without the drops, that could have looked more like 22-for-28. Having said that, he was a little off on some throws. There was an attempt to Maclin that was off-target after Vick rolled out to his left. The pass I marked as a drop by Celek wasn't perfect, but he should have caught it. And same goes for the Avant drop, even though he had a defender in front of him.

AGAINST THE BLITZ

The Falcons blitzed Vick on 12 of 31 dropbacks, or 38.7 percent of the time. In Week 1, the Rams blitzed 42.9 percent of the time. As always, I define blitz here as more than four defenders rushing the quarterback.

The good news? Vick was not sacked on any of those plays, and he did not take off and run even once when the Falcons sent extra pressure.

Here's how his numbers looked:

No. of Rushers No. of Plays Comp. Att. Yds.
3 3 2 2 18
4 16 9 14 133
5 8 5 8 74
6 3 2 3 12
7 1 1 1 5

As you can see, Vick had success against the blitz. He completed 8 of 12 passes for 91 yards, a touchdown and an interception when the Falcons sent extra defenders. That translates to a QB rating of 82.3, which isn't great, but the important thing here is that Vick got rid of the ball quickly and completed 67 percent of his attempts. He didn't panic, made good reads and relied less on his legs.

The interception really hurt the QB rating, and as we saw from the replay, it shouldn't have been a turnover. Take the INT away, and the QB rating jumps to 117.0.

On non-blitz throws, Vick was 11-for-16 for 151 yards and a touchdown. That translates to a QB rating of 119.5. In other words, he looked very comfortable in the pocket.

One key here is Vick made good decisions on when to run. He took off on the trick play early, and later there was a designed run that went for 7 yards.

But really, there were three instances when he dropped back to pass and ended up running. One was on 3rd-and-3 in the red zone in the second. Vick picked up 10 and a first down.

Later, on another 3rd-and-3 in the red zone, Vick picked up 7 and a first down before McCoy scampered into the end zone.

The third run was the 2-yard gain where he fumbled. Vick has to take care of the ball better (more on that below).

THIRD DOWN, RED ZONE

As a team, the Eagles were 5-for-11 on third down. They also had a conversion on a Falcons offsides penalty (the play where Jackson dropped the ball in the end zone).

Vick had the ball in his hands on seven third downs, and the Eagles converted four of them. He hit Avant for 29 yards and Maclin for 9 yards. As I mentioned above, Vick also ran for a pair of first downs. Three of Vick's third-down attempts went to Avant, one to Maclin and one to Celek.

Third-down success was a key for Vick last year when he was playing well. Through two games, he's 9-for-13 for 108 yards and a touchdown on third down (QB rating of 120.0).

The Eagles were 3-for-5 in the red zone, scoring three touchdowns, turning it over once and settling for one Alex Henery field goal. Vick was 4-for-6 for 25 yards in the red zone. He also had runs of 7, 7 and 10 yards inside the Falcons' 20.

As a team, the Eagles have converted 5 of 9 red-zone chances into touchdowns, which puts them at ninth in the NFL.

SUCCESS BY DISTANCE

Here's a chart of Vick's throws by distance. I used the same ranges that Football Outsiders uses so we'd have a point of reference. Short is 5 yards or less. Mid is 6 to 15 yards. Deep is 16 to 25 yards. And Bomb is more than 25 yards. These are measured from the line of scrimmage to the point where the ball is touched, hits the ground or goes out of bounds.

  Completions Attempts Yards
Short 9 10 88
Mid 7 13 81
Deep 3 4 73
Bomb 0 0  0

Vick was efficient in all three ranges. It's extremely rare for him to have zero Bomb attempts however. That means all 27 passes he threw were within 25 yards of the line of scrimmage. And 23 of the 25 were within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage.

In other words, the Eagles did not take a lot of shots deep downfield. Now that I think about it, they didn't target Jackson once on a deep ball.

Short throws don't always mean short gains though. Vick hit Maclin five times on the short throws; all five were complete, and they picked up a total of 66 yards. Excellent yards after the catch numbers.

OVERALL

Week 2 was a big improvement for Vick. He read blitzes well; he got rid of the football quickly; and he chose his spots to run. Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg have to be encouraged by the progress he showed from the Rams game.

The decision-making will continue to be a work in progress. The interception should have been challenged, but it was still a dangerous throw, and Vick made another bad decision in the end zone when he was looking for Celek.

As I mentioned in Man Up, protection held up pretty well. Vick had time to make throws from the pocket for most of the game. On average, teams gave up five quarterback hits in Week 2. The Eagles gave up six, and they were one of five teams to not surrender a sack.

It's not easy to block for Vick, and protecting him is a team effort that includes the offensive line, the coaching staff, the running backs and tight ends and Vick himself. With John Abraham, Ray Edwards, Kroy Biermann and Peria Jerry, the Falcons have some talented defensive linemen. And they zone blitz as much as any team in the league. But I thought the Eagles' offense did a good job of handling them.

Ball security is an issue. Last year's numbers were a bit misleading. Vick was only charged with four fumbles lost, but according to Football Outsiders, he actually fumbled 10 times. When he crosses the line of scrimmage and decides to run, he needs to hang on to the football.

Next up are the Giants, a team that gave Vick fits for three quarters last year before he turned in one of the most memorable fourth quarters in franchise history. I'll have a detailed breakdown of how the Giants defended Vick later in the week.


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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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