Mike Check: Evaluating Vick vs. the Giants

After Sunday's win over the Giant, Michael Vick and the Eagles sit atop the NFC East. (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

Michael Vick failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time all season Sunday.

He turned the ball over for the first time and averaged 6.8 yards per attempt - his lowest number in six starts.

Yet, there was a lot of good to take out of Vick's performance in the Eagles' 27-17 win against the Giants.

Here's the weekly look at how he played, starting with pass distribution.

  Targets Catches Yards YAC Drops
Jeremy Maclin 14 9 120 53 0
DeSean Jackson 10 5 50 5 1
LeSean McCoy 5 5 29 27 0
Jason Avant 3 2 39 14 1
Owen Schmitt321480
Clay Harbor21660
TOTALS 37 24 258 113 2

The Eagles had two drops, and Vick threw one ball away. That's where you see the discrepancy from his actual numbers (24-for-38) and the numbers here.

The drops were big - no question about it. As I mentioned yesterday, had Jackson and Avant held onto those balls in the end zone, Vick's QB rating would have been well over 100.

Maclin was the Eagles' most-targeted receiver, followed by Jackson. The Giants gave Vick more trouble than any other defense this season, and he leaned on his two best playmakers. That's a good thing. I thought Maclin played particularly well. Those 53 yards after the catch are important. Those didn't come on deep balls where Maclin was just running away from guys.

They came either on routes designed to pick up YAC or on receptions where Maclin had to get by or fight off a defensive back. And he did that effectively.

Maclin could have had an even bigger game. There were a couple plays where he had a shot at jump balls and couldn't come down with them. I like that Vick trusted him on those plays, though. It will pay off in the long run.

Vick and Jackson had trouble getting on the same page. Vick overthrew him once down the sideline and missed him again on an intermediate route in the middle of the field that could have resulted in big yards after the catch. And as I mentioned above, Jackson dropped the one ball in the end zone.

The Eagles ran one effective screen to McCoy for 17 yards. The Giants' defense definitely did a good job preparing for the Eagles. There were several plays that were shut down where it looked like New York knew exactly what was coming.

The one name you'll notice missing from the above chart is Brent Celek. I'm going to do a completely separate post on Celek since I've gotten several questions about his role and production. Vick completed one ball to him, but the play was called back for a Todd Herremans penalty.

Clay Harbor had his first NFL catch and had a chance for another, but Vick overthrew him.


This is the section where we learn a little bit about how the Giants attacked Vick.

Vick dropped back to pass 47 times, and the Giants blitzed him on 18 of those plays.

Against the blitz, he was 6-for-15 (40 percent) for 56 yards. When the Giants didn't blitz, Vick was 18-for-23 (78.3 percent) for 202 yards.

A variety of things happened on those nine incompletions against the blitz. I thought Vick made a lot of good reads and got rid of the ball quickly. Both the Jackson drop and the Avant drop were on plays where the Giants blitzed. Vick missed Maclin once and Jackson once when they were clearly open. And the one jump-ball to Maclin was against the blitz.

Accuracy was an issue, but that's what pressure is suppsoed to accomplish - disrupt timing, rush the quarterback. The Giants were successful with that, but prior to Sunday, Vick had completed 61.5 percent of his passes against the blitz. In other words, the Giants did a better job than most, and the Eagles made mistakes. But Vick and the receivers have certainly shown in the past that they can hit on big plays against the blitz.

The Giants brought eight defenders once; seven defenders five times; six defenders three times; five defenders eight times; and three defenders (zone blitz) once.

In the previous two games against the Redskins and Colts, Vick had been blitzed just nine times total.

In the pocket, Vick completed 23 of 36 attempts for 261 yards. Outside the pocket, he was 1-for-2 for -3 yards.

From the shotgun, he completed 13 of 21 passes for 148 yards. Under center, Vick was 11-for-17 for 110 yards.

Vick was 9-for-12 for 97 yards on throws that came off of fake handoffs, but those weren't the usual play-action passes that take a long time to develop. The Eagles ran several quick fakes and quick throws.


As a team, the Eagles were just 3-for-14 on third down.

Vick was 4-for-9 for 60 yards on third down. Four of his third-down throws went to Jackson; three to Maclin; and two to Avant. He also was sacked three times and scrambled twice on third downs. The ball was in Vick's hands for 13 of the third-down attempts, and the Eagles converted just three of those.

Vick's third-down performance entering Sunday was one of the primary reasons for his success. But he struggled in that aspect against the Giants.

The same can be said for red-zone production. The Eagles converted just one of five red-zone trips into a touchdown. Entering the game, they had been 13-for-17 in that category with Vick at quarterback. He was 4-for-7 for 19 yards in the red zone. Four of Vick's red-zone throws went to Jackson, and one each to McCoy, Harbor and Avant.


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 15 16 98
Mid 5 12 57
Deep 4 6 103
Bomb 0 3 0

The biggest difference? Entering Sunday, Vick had completed 66.7 percent of the Bomb throws. Against the Giants, he went 0-for-3.

But that doesn't mean he failed to get the ball down the field completely. On the Deep throws, he actually had a lot of success - completing two to Maclin, one to Jackson and one to Avant.


We really learned quite a bit about Vick and how defenses will attack him down the stretch.

The first factor was the blitz. But it's not that simple. The Giants were smart and brought several blitzes from Vick's left side. That forced him to scramble to his right, where he is more likely to take off and run than keep his eyes downfield and look for a receiver. That's something I absolutely expect defenses to copy in the coming weeks.

And when defenses blitz, they need to have the athletes to do so. It's one thing to send seven guys, but if they can't get to Vick or keep up with him when he escapes, he'll burn them. When defenders chase Vick down, they need to finish plays and tackle him hard.

I don't think you can sit back and let Vick have time in the pocket. The Eagles' receivers are too good, too capable of getting open. And Vick has shown for the most part that he's comfortable going through his reads and finding the open man.

To stop Vick, defenses also need to have athletes in the secondary - guys who can at least keep Jackson and Maclin in front of them, and players who can jump up and break up passes Vick throws up for grabs.

And finally, defenses have to hope Vick and the Eagles' offensive playmakers make mistakes. For all the success the Giants had, the Eagles could have easily scored in the high 30s. I've already mentioned the two drops several times. And Vick missed several throws. Throws where he made a good, quick decision, but was just off-target. Maybe that will become a trend, but maybe it was just a one-week thing. Before this year, Vick's inaccuracy was something teams could count on. But it hasn't been through 11 weeks of this season.