Sunday, August 30, 2015

What to expect from Vince Young

With Michael Vick reportedly out again, Vince Young gets his second consecutive start for the Eagles against the Patriots.

What to expect from Vince Young

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Vince Young is expected to start for the Eagles against the Patriots today. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Vince Young is expected to start for the Eagles against the Patriots today. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)

With Michael Vick reportedly out again, Vince Young gets his second consecutive start for the Eagles against the Patriots.

Below is a breakdown of how the Giants attacked Young in his first start, along with what to expect in today's matchup.

Let's start with pass distribution:

  Targets Catches Yards
DeSean Jackson 8 6 88
Riley Cooper 12 5 75
Brent Celek 6 6 60
Steve Smith 1 1 14
Jason Avant 2 1 13
LeSean McCoy 4 3 2
Clay Harbor 2 1 6
Owen Schmitt 1 0 0
TOTALS 36 23 258

As I've mentioned multiple times, Jackson could have had an even bigger game. Young underthrew him on the first interception, and Jackson's taunting penalty negated a 50-yard completion. But overall, Young was 6-for-8 for 88 yards to Jackson. According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots are dead last in the NFL at covering No. 1 wide receivers, and starting left cornerback Devin McCourty is out. In other words, Jackson should have his chances to make plays.

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Young was obviously comfortable with Cooper, targeting him a game-high 12 times. Early on, the two couldn't get on the same page. Young was 0-for-5 to Cooper in the first half, but 5-for-7 for 75 yards to him in the second half. The pair will look to carry over that chemistry to today's game.

Young completed all six passes thrown Celek's way for 60 yards. And Smith had the 14-yard touchdown, even though he only played seven snaps.

AGAINST THE BLITZ

The Giants blitzed Vick on 15 of 38 dropbacks, or 39.5 percent of the time. On those plays, he was 7-for-13 for 54 yards (4.15 YPA). He was also sacked once and had a 5-yard run.

On plays where the Giants didn't send extra pressure, Young was 16-for-23 for 204 yards (8.87 YPA).

Here's the full breakdown:

No. of Rushers No. of Plays Completions Attempts Yards
3 4 4 4 69
4 19 12 19 135
5 8 4 6 39
6 6 2 6 5
7 1 1 1 10

As you can see, Young was excellent when the Giants didn't send extra pressure, as the offensive line did an outstanding job in pass protection.

On the final drive, Young beat a 7-man blitz by getting rid of the ball quickly for 10 yards on third down to Jackson.

With the Patriots banged up in the secondary and the Eagles' offensive line playing well, it'll be interesting to see how much New England blitzes Young today.

THIRD DOWN, RED ZONE

Young was outstanding on third down, completing 9 of 12 passes for 107 yards. He was sacked once, but also ran for a first down. On the final 18-play drive, the Eagles were 6-for-6 on third down, and Young was 4-for-4 for 42 yards, completing two passes to Cooper, one to Harbor and one to Jackson. Overall, the Eagles were 9-for-17 on third down.

The box score shows the Eagles being 2-for-5 in the red zone, but it was really 2-for-4, when you consider Young took a knee to run out the clock on the final trip inside the Giants' 20.

But it's imperative that the Birds get in the end zone, rather than settle for field goals, with Tom Brady on the other sideline. Young was 3-for-6 for 32 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the red zone. On the pick, he tried to let Cooper make a play, but the Eagles' second-year receiver didn't know the ball was coming, and it was intercepted. The Eagles aren't going to be able to overcome mistakes like that today.

The Birds' offense ranks 26th in the red zone, scoring touchdowns 44.4 percent of the time. The Patriots' defense ranks 16th, allowing touchdowns 50 percent of the time.

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 11 12 57
Mid 10 20 151
Deep 1 2 18
Bomb 1 2 32

Young misfired on the first throw to McCoy, throwing the ball at his feet, but after that, he was good on the Short throws.

The numbers are slightly skewed because of Jackson's taunting penalty. But Young underthrew him three times: once on the early interception; again on the 32-yard completion that Jackson made a nice play on; and also on the 50-yard completion that was negated.

The Patriots have allowed 51 pass plays of 20+ yards, most in the NFL. Young and Jackson must connect on those opportunities for huge plays today.

OVERALL

The good news is that Young got more comfortable as the game went on. In the first half, he was just 8-for-18 for 89 yards, including a stretch where he completed just one of eight attempts.

But in the second half, he was 15-for-18 for 169 yards.

Young did not try to do too much. He took off and ran just twice on designed pass plays, getting sacked once and picking up 5 yards another time. He did not try to keep a lot of plays alive with his legs and got rid of the football quickly when necessary. Young also gave his receivers chances to make plays, even if they weren't open. That worked sometimes, and backfired in other instances.

The bad news is he was off-target on quite a few throws and left yards/points on the field. That's probably to be expected, considering it was Young's first start of the season, but he needs to be sharper, especially early on, today.

Young threw three interceptions, but really only the first one could be categorized as a bad pass, as he underthrew Jackson. He gave Cooper a chance to make a play on the red-zone pick, and the third INT went off Harbor's helmet. The Patriots are second in the league with 15 interceptions. Young and his supporting cast have to take care of the football to give the Eagles a shot against New England.


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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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