Thursday, December 25, 2014

Has Vick made progress vs. the blitz?

Much of the talk this week has been about Rob Ryan's blitz schemes and how the Cowboys will attack Michael Vick.

Has Vick made progress vs. the blitz?

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick can expect to face a heavy blitz attack from the Cowboys Sunday night. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles quarterback Michael Vick can expect to face a heavy blitz attack from the Cowboys Sunday night. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Much of the talk this week has been about Rob Ryan's blitz schemes and how the Cowboys will attack Michael Vick.

Vick's performance against the blitz was a major theme coming into the season and remains a point of discussion now that we're entering Week 8.

There was no Mike Check this week since the Eagles were on bye, but I took a closer look at how Vick's handled extra pressure so far this season.

I broke it down by number of rushers. For our purposes, a blitz is any time the defense sends five or more rushers.

No. of Rushers No. of Plays Completions Attempts Yards Comp. % YPA
3 20 13 16 215 81.3% 13.4
4 117 58 99 751 58.6% 7.59
5 67 39 59 474 66.1% 8.03
6 21 11 19 117 57.9% 6.16
7 5 2 2 16 100% 8.0
8 4 0 3 0 0 0
Total 234 123 198 1,573 62.1 7.94
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A couple notes before we get to what these numbers mean. The data is not official. These are numbers I gathered by charting the plays for Mike Check, which I do on a weekly basis.  There is a difference in attempts and No. of plays, which accounts for sacks and scrambles.

As you can see, Vick has been blitzed on 97 of 234 dropbacks, or about 41.5 percent of the time. Defenses are sending four rushers or fewer at him 58.5 percent of the time on pass plays.

When blitzed, Vick is 52-for-83 (62.7 percent) for 607 yards (7.3 YPA). When he's not blitzed, Vick is 71-for-115 (61.7 percent) for 966 yards (8.4 YPA). The completion percentages are extremely similar, but Vick is doing more damage on non-blitz throws.

As a point of reference, last year, Vick completed 54.1 percent of his passes against the blitz and averaged 7.02 yards per attempt, so his numbers against extra pressure are better in 2011.

When isolating the blitzes, opponents are only bringing one extra rusher about 69.1 percent of the time, and they are rushing six or more about 30.9 percent of the time. But Vick has struggled against six or more, completing 13 of 24 passes for 133 yards. That's a completion percentage of 54.2 and more importantly, just 5.54 yards per attempt. In other words, Vick is not hitting on big plays when teams rush six or more defenders at him.

What about sacks? The Daily News' Paul Domowitch wrote an excellent piece about Vick's reduced sack numbers and Howard Mudd's role.

I took a look at how many of Vick's sacks have come when he's blitzed. The third column measures the frequency of sacks, putting the totals into perspective.

No. of Rushers No. of Plays Sacks Sack %
3 20 1 5%
4 117 2 1.7%
5 67 3 4.5%
6 21 1 4.8%
7 5 0 0%
8 4 1 25%
TOTAL 234 8 3.4%

When blitzed, Vick is being sacked 5.2 percent of the time. When defenses rush four or fewer, he's being sacked 2.2 percent of the time. I don't have percentages from last year, but 21 of Vick's 34 sacks came when defenses blitzed in 2010. This year, that number figures to be much lower.

It's not really surprising that teams sack Vick at a higher rate when they blitz. But what might be most impressive is that teams have had a lot of difficulty sacking him when they don't blitz, getting there only 2.2 percent of the time.

Both sacks that came when defenses rushed 6+ were in Week 1 against the Rams.

I also looked at interception numbers, and four picks have come against the blitz, while the other four have been on non-blitz throws. I wouldn't read too much into that though, considering not all the interceptions have been Vick's fault.

One more note here, as it pertains to Sunday night's game. In 2010, Vick was horrible when the Cowboys blitzed him. He completed 6 of 11 passes for just 16 yards, averaging 1.45 yards per attempt, when Dallas sent five or more defenders. I know Ryan runs a different scheme, but I wonder how much film he's watched of that matchup.


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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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