When Vick holds on to the ball

Quarterback Michael Vick was sacked three times in Week 1. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Earlier this week in Mike Check, I broke down how the Rams attacked Michael Vick in the opener.

He was sacked three times, but in each case, St. Louis brought extra defenders. The Rams did not sack Vick on any of the 24 plays where they rushed four defenders or fewer.

But one question that's been asked going back to last year is: Does Vick hold on to the ball too long?

J.J. Cooper took a look over on Football Outsiders. He timed every sack in the NFL since the start of the 2009 season and charted how many occurred after the quarterback held on to the ball for three or more seconds.

Vick ranked second in the league with 5.34 percent of his sacks coming after he held on to the ball for three seconds or longer. Tampa's Josh Johnson was first. Oakland's JaMarcus Russell was third. Ben Roethlisberger and Daunte Culpepper were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Peyton Manning, meanwhile, had the lowest rate. Only 0.32 percent of his sacks came after he held onto the ball for three seconds or more.

But I would argue that these numbers aren't as much of an indictment on Vick as they might appear to be at first.

Vick is a different athlete and a different player. He ran for 676 yards last year and averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Vick had eight runs of 20+ yards. Only nine running backs had more.

So how many of those runs came on plays where he held on to the ball, made defenders miss and picked up huge chunks of yardage on the ground? A lot.

The guys over at Pro Football Focus provided me with some data on Vick's runs last year. He had 100 total carries; 23 were designed runs; 9 were kneel-downs; 6 were QB sneaks; and 3 were aborted snaps or fumbles.

That left 59 rushing attempts that were improvised, or originally pass plays. On those runs, Vick picked up 570 yards and averaged 9.66 yards per attempt. Ready for this stat? 330 of those yards came after contact.

In other words, your eyes do not deceive you. Yes, Vick takes sacks when he holds on to the ball for more than three seconds. But he also makes huge plays with his legs in those same situations.

There are times when Vick needs to recognize where the pressure is coming from and get rid of the ball. For example, last week, when Quintin Mikell sacked Vick from his blind side, he had DeSean Jackson in one-on-one coverage, open in the middle of the field, but didn't get the pass off on time. Those are the situations I'm sure he'll focus on getting better in throughout the season.


Here are some numbers around the league after Week 1:

* Only Oakland's Darren McFadden had more rushing yards (150) than LeSean McCoy last week. Who would have guessed that'd be the case when McCoy went into the fourth quarter with just 27 yards on the ground?

* Among players who had at least 10 carries last week, Michael Turner (10.0 YPC), Vick (8.8 YPC) and McCoy (8.1 YPC) had the highest yards per carry averages. All three will be on the field Sunday night in Atlanta. Vick's numbers are skewed. He's officially down for 11 carries and 97 yards, but that includes three kneel-downs. The real numbers are 8 for 100.

* Tom Brady and Chad Henne EACH had 10 throws that picked up 20+ yards last week.

* After his performance in Kansas City, Buffalo's Ryan Fitzpatrick leads all QBs with a 133.0 QB rating. Kevin Kolb is third with 130.0. His 11.4 yards per attempt in Week 1 was tied for tops in the league with Cam Newton. Kolb has thrown for 300+ yards in four of the seven games he's started and finished in his career. And one of the three times he didn't do so was Week 17 against Dallas last year when he was playing with backups.

* Redskins tight end Fred Davis had four catches of 20+ yards last week, tied for most in the league with Miami's Brandon Marshall.

* Roddy White was targeted 13 times in Week 1, tied for most in the league. DeSean Jackson was right behind him with 12.


Most in the Philadelphia area will get Jaguars at Jets on CBS and Bears at Saints on Fox tomorrow at 1 p.m. Only one late game: Chargers at Patriots on CBS.

To see which games are on where you live, click on this very useful viewing map.

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