Monday, September 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Mike Check: Vick's issues vs. the Giants

For the second straight week, Michael Vick started at quarterback for the Eagles, but did not finish.

Mike Check: Vick's issues vs. the Giants

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick completed 16 of 23 passes for 176 yards vs. the Giants. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick completed 16 of 23 passes for 176 yards vs. the Giants. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

For the second straight week, Michael Vick started at quarterback for the Eagles, but did not finish.

When he was in the game, Vick completed 16 of 23 passes for 176 yards and an interception. His 73.8 QB rating was Vick's lowest in any game since becoming the Eagles' starter last season.

So how much of the blame for Sunday's loss falls on the quarterback? Why did he struggle? Were the numbers more or less indicative of his performance?

We're answering those questions and others once again this week. As always, let's start with the pass distribution:

  Targets Catches Yards Drops
Jeremy Maclin 7 5 69 0
DeSean Jackson 4 2 30 1
Jason Avant 4 3 28 0
Clay Harbor 1 1 17 0
Owen Schmitt 1 1 13 0
LeSean McCoy 2 2 8 0
Steve Smith 3 1 8 1
Brent Celek 1 1 3 0
TOTAL 23 16 176 2

In two games against the Giants last year, Maclin was the Eagles' most-targeted receiver with 23 balls thrown his way. That was the case again here, as Vick looked for him seven times, completing five for 69 yards.

Jackson failed to get going for the second straight game. More on that later, but by my count, he's dropped four balls in three games so far this season.

Harbor made his first grab, and it was good for 17 yards on 3rd-and-2. He played 32 snaps, which is the second-highest number of his career, according to Pro Football Focus. The only time Harbor played more snaps in a game was the Week 17 game against the Cowboys last season when the starters sat.

Schmitt wowed the crowd with his hurdle on the 13-yard catch and run. McCoy, meanwhile, has not done much as a receiver. He's averaging just 5.4 yards per catch and 16.3 receiving yards per game.

Vick only looked in Celek's direction once. And Smith, of course, had the costly drop, which turned into an interception.

AGAINST THE BLITZ

The Giants blitzed Vick on 10 of 26 dropbacks, or 38.5 percent of the time. That's pretty close to the Week 1 (42.9 percent) and Week 2 (38.7 percent) numbers.

Against the blitz, Vick completed 6 of 10 passes for 35 yards. On non-blitz throws, he was 10-for-13 for 141 yards.

Here's a breakdown of how many rushers the Giants sent, along with Vick's performance:

No. of Rushers No. of Plays Comp. Att. Yards
3 3 2 2 36
4 13 8 11 105
5 5 3 5 21
6 5 3 5 14

The first item that stands out here is that the Giants didn't send 7 or 8 rushers on any single play. We saw them bring the house the previous week against Sam Bradford and the Rams, but they held off against Vick. Perhaps because the Eagles have better downfield weapons?

Against the blitz, Vick got rid of the football. He did not take off and run and he did not get sacked once when the Giants blitzed. That was the case in Week 2 also against the Falcons. That tells me he's making quick decisions and is recognizing what he's seeing before the snap.

The next step is to burn teams when they blitz. So far this season, he's only averaging 5.38 yards per attempt against the blitz. Against the Giants, that number was only 3.5. When teams rush only three or four defenders, he's averaging 8.79 yards per attempt.

Last year, in the fourth-quarter comeback, Vick was 3-for-6 for 88 yards against the blitz. He needs to start connecting on big plays when opponents send extra pressure. Of course, that requires good pass protection too.

THIRD DOWN, RED ZONE

As a team, the Eagles were 7-for-15 on third down. Vick had the ball in his hands for 10 of those plays and converted four of them. He was 3-for-6 for 29 yards on third down. Two of the first downs were with his legs.

On the season, Vick is 12-for-19 for 137 yards, a touchdown and an interception on third down. He's been sacked three times and also has seven carries for 45 yards. To be fair to Vick, his receivers did not help him on third down in this one. Jackson and Smith both had drops on third down, or Vick's numbers would look better.

The Eagles scored a touchdown on just one of their five trips to the red zone. The first trip ended with the interception. On the second trip, the Eagles had three chances from inside the 3-yard line. Vick passed twice. One was a dumpoff to McCoy, but he was dropped for a loss. And Jason Pierre-Paul tipped Vick's other pass intended for Smith.

McCoy scored from 11 yards out on the Eagles' only red-zone score.

The fourth red-zone trip is a little misleading. The Eagles only had one play from the 20, and Vick fumbled the snap at the end of the first half. They ended up settling for the field goal.

And we all know what happened on the final red-zone trip. Two runs with Schmitt, two runs with Vick and no touchdown. It should be noted that Vick made a nice play, escaping the pocket and finding Avant for 14 yards to set up those attempts though.

Overall, Vick was 3-for-5 for 21 yards in the red zone.

The Eagles are 19th in offensive red-zone efficiency, having scored touchdowns on 42.9 percent of their trips.

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 8 10 52
Mid 5 7 66
Deep 3 6 58
Bomb 0 0 0

The first thing that stands out here is the zero Bomb attempts. That's rare for a team that has Jackson's speed and Vick's arm. But for the second week in a row, Vick did not attempt a single pass attempt that traveled more than 25 yards from the line of scrimmage.

On the bright side, he's 6-for-9 on throws in the Deep range the last two weeks. Against the Giants, those completions went to Harbor, Jackson and Maclin.

I'm surprised the Eagles did not take a shot deep to Jackson early in the game. Even if he's covered and it's incomplete, why not scare the defense a little? They did that consistently in 2010.

I'm not too concerned with Jackson's overall lack of production the last two weeks though. In 2010, he had a three-game stretch with receiving yard totals of 19, 24 and 34, respectively. He still finished the season with 1,056 yards. Jackson's nature is to explode in certain weeks. I think that will still happen, but it'd be nice to see the Eagles take some more shots with him.

OVERALL

This was not Vick's finest performance. He and the offense just seemed out of rhythm for much of the game. Vick had a couple fumbled snaps and also had the ball knocked out of his hands on a designed run. The interception wasn't his fault, but Vick also got away with a potential pick that Giants linebacker Michael Boley dropped.

There were some other ill-advised throws too. On one, late in the first, it looked like Vick had plenty of room to run but instead threw across his body, incomplete and into traffic to Maclin. Based on the TV marker, it looked like he might have been across the line of scrimmage too.

Vick had some good moments too. He made a good throw in a tight space to Jackson for 17 yards in the first. And he hit Maclin for 24 yards in the second. Against the blitz, he got rid of the ball quickly to Avant for a gain of 6.

But overall, it was an uneven performance. Not just for Vick, but for the entire offense. Penalties and missed assignments from the offensive line. Failures to convert by the running backs in short yardage (coaches take blame on this one too). And drpped passes from the wide receivers.

As I mentioned above, the Eagles need to hit on more shots downfield. That's what the offense is based on. And they especially need to hit big plays against the blitz. There's a fine line between getting rid of the ball quickly and still making the defenses pay.

One final note that is encouraging: In the past two weeks, when teams did not blitz, Vick was 21-for-29 (72 percent) for 292 yards, averaging 10.07 yards per attempt. In other words, when he has time and teams don't blitz, Vick is throwing the football well.

We'll see if Vick is healthy enough to go in Week 4. If not, this post will likely focus on Vince Young next Wednesday, and I'll need a new name for it. Vince-Anity? OK, that's terrible. Suggestions are welcome...


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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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