Vick vs. Kolb: Myth and reality (part two)

Kevin Kolb will return to his role as backup to Michael Vick on Sunday. (Clem Murray/Staff Photographer)

Yesterday, I looked at how Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick compared in a number of different categories - pass distribution, third down, red zone, etc.

In part two, the focus is on how successful each quarterback has been by distance and against the blitz, plus some intangibles.

Let's start with throws by distance for Vick. As always, 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 32 47 247
Mid 18 26 241
Deep 3 10 54
Bomb 6 10 257

And now Kolb:

  Completions Attempts Yards
Short 62 78 406
Mid 22 33 250
Deep 9 17 184
Bomb 4 13 195

I was surprised by the numbers here. I fully expected to find that Kolb had attempted a much higher percentage of Short attempts than Vick, but that's not the case. 49 percent of Vick's throws have been 5 yards or less from the line of scrimmage; Kolb's number is only slightly higher at 51 percent.

26.3 percent of Vick's throws are in the Mid range; 21.6 for Kolb. 10.1 percent are in the Deep range for Vick; 11.1 for Kolb. And 10.1 percent in the Bomb range for Vick; 8.5 percent for Kolb.

The difference is in success rate, particularly on the Bombs, which are throws that go more than 25 yards from the line of scrimmage. Vick is completing a ridiculous 60 percent of those throws, while Kolb is only completing about 31 percent. Kolb underthrew multiple Bombs against the Titans.


Here's how each QB has fared on throws in the pocket:

  Comp. Att. Comp. % Yds. YPA
Vick 47 79 59.5 617 7.81
Kolb 81 125 64.8 876 7.01

And out of the pocket:

  Comp. Att. Comp. % Yds. YPA
Vick 12 17 70.6 182 10.7
Kolb 15 23 65.2 122 5.3

Both guys complete a high percentage of passes outside of the pocket. But the key here (once again) is big plays. Vick is averaging twice as many yards per attempt as Kolb on throws outside the pocket. In other words, he's done an outstanding job of keeping his eyes downfield when he escapes pressure.

The percentage of Vick throws that have come in the pocket is 82.3. Not much different than Kolb, who has attempted 84.4 percent of his throws from in the pocket.

Here's how each guy performs out of the shotgun:

  Comp. Att. Comp. % Yds. YPA
Vick 40 63 63.5 506 8.03
Kolb 61 95 64.2 516 5.43

And from under center:

  Comp. Att. Comp. % Yds. YPA
Vick 19 33 57.6 293 8.88
Kolb 35 53 66.0 482 9.09

Nothing really noteworthy here. The one thing that sticks out is that Kolb's YPA number skyrockets when he's under center. A lot of that has to do with success he's had running play-action. Here are those numbers:

  Comp. Att. Comp. % Yds. YPA
Vick 13 20 65.0 106 5.3
Kolb 23 35 65.7 383 10.9

When Kolb's had success hitting big plays downfield, it's come on play-action throws, where he's averaging 10.9 yards per attempt.


How has each guy fared against the blitz? Here are the numbers:

  Comp. Att. Comp. % Yds. YPA
Vick 27 45 60.0 406 9.02
Kolb 15 28 53.6 120 4.29

Vick has the clear edge here. It's also interesting to note that teams have been much more likely to blitz Vick than Kolb. But he made them pay, averaging 9.02 yards per attempt on those throws.

As for sacks, this number will surprise you. Vick has been sacked once every 8.73 attempts, and Kolb has been sacked once every 15.3 attempts. Part of that might be improved offensive line play. Also, Vick is probably more likely to try and make a play with his feet rather than just get rid of the ball. But interesting number, nonetheless.

Speaking of Vick's ability to make a play, it's only fair to include rushing yards in any comparison. Vick's carried 26 times for 187 yards and a touchdown. Kolb has rushed 10 times for 57 yards.


The one thing I would say here is that the locker room has shown it will get behind either guy. That's pretty hard to believe, but it's true. I think the players respect both Kolb and Vick. I think the players believe they can win with whichever one is in the huddle. That's a nice luxury to have, especially when you take a look at some of the other backup situations around the league.

Vick definitely brings a wow factor. Many of these players remember watching him as a kid, playing as him on Madden and even wearing his jersey. Even last year, when Vick would make a play, it would excite the players on the sideline.

Vick gives the Eagles the best chance to win right now. This is still a big-play offense that is succesful when the quarterback gets DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin the ball downfield. Through the first seven weeks, Vick has proven to be more capable of doing that better.

He's also more difficult to game-plan for, and brings the added element of being able to hit on big plays when protection breaks down. All while taking care of the football and not turning it over.

Kolb has looked capable of being a good NFL starter. He needs to be more consistent on throws downfield, especially with the way the offense is currently set up, and he needs to avoid turnovers and bad decisions. Those are things that are likely to come in time. Sometimes, we forget that he has only made six career starts.

That's how I see it after seven weeks of the season. Vick will be the starter unless he's injured or suffers a severe drop-off in his level of play. If either of those things happens, Kolb will get another shot.

As for 2011 and beyond, check back with me in nine weeks.