Giants want Vick to be ready to run
SO, TODAY'S the day. Today, says Michael Vick, he will run full throttle, cut full throttle, test that tortured hammy of his to see if it will let him do all of what he wants to do Sunday against the Giants.
And if it does? Playoffs, baby!?
Hold on there, fella.
Because Vick started full throttle the last time these teams played against each other, and that first half did not exactly look like that first half against the Redskins, even before his injury. He threw 14 passes. Six of them were caught, for a total of 105 yards. When he pulled his hamstring on that 13-yard scramble in the second quarter, Vick had nearly as many rushing yards (79) as he did passing yards.
And well, nobody wants to try that formula again Sunday, right?
Um, the Giants do.
The Giants defense against the read-option 3 weeks ago was designed to force Vick to hand the ball to LeSean McCoy on running plays, center Jason Kelce said yesterday. They utilized man coverage when he tried to pass, challenging Vick to make accurate throws - or use his legs.
Despite a 36-21 loss to the Eagles that day - fueled by three Eli Manning interceptions - New York's strategy against the Eagles offense, with Vick as quarterback, seemed sound. When he was hurt late in the second quarter, it stalled another drive and led to a third field goal that half. Although Nick Foles put together a mammoth fourth quarter passing, there was even a brief time in the third quarter when the Giants held the lead.
"They succeeded pretty much the whole game in stopping the run plays," Kelce said after practice yesterday. "The only plays that really worked were our package plays with Mike. A couple OK runs with Shady, but for the most part the only running plays we had good success on were with Mike."
Yesterday, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly refused to name Vick his starter, or even say when he might do that. Vick, who earlier in the week all but pronounced himself ready enough, was a little more careful with his words this time as well, especially when someone pressed him about whether he was still "apprehensive."
"Sort of," he said. "There's always going to be the doubt, the fear of failure. Because to me, if I can't do it, I'm going to be a failure."
You know, I know and Tom Coughlin knows that barring a big blowout today, Vick will be behind Kelce on the first offensive series Sunday. What happens next is the nail-chomping intrigue for fans inside Lincoln Financial Field, who haven't gone home happy since the last time the Giants came here - Sept. 30, 2012.
The Giants have only improved their health since the first matchup between these teams three Sundays ago, and as their success against Adrian Peterson suggests Monday night, they are still muddling up the middle of the field with their big-bodied defensive linemen.
Vick's legs accounted for more than half of the Eagles rushing yards in the last meeting.
"We also won when a quarterback who doesn't run came into the game," Kelce noted. "I don't think Mike needs to run for us to win the game. As long as he plays well as a quarterback, we can run the ball even if he can't run the ball. I don't think that's going to dictate the win or loss."
But here's the thing: Health or no health, Vick is likely to have a little rust after 3 weeks on the sideline. And he wasn't exactly cleaning out the carnival of Kewpie dolls before that. In consecutive losses to Kansas City and Denver, Vick completed 27 of 57 passes and threw his only two picks of the season against KC, fueling a comically short-lived civic endorsement of Foles as the starter.
Now we are on pins and needles over what will happen today when Vick runs, in his words, "One hundred yards as as fast as I can.
"I'm gonna try to cut," he said. "Try to make some subtle movements in the pocket and see what will happen."
The Giants have made it clear they expect it to go well. They also say they expect to see Vick run and pass. "If I know Mike like I know Mike," said Giants safety Antrelle Rolle. "If he plays, he's going to be ready."
Eagles fans can only hope Rolle is right. Because Foles won't even be dressed Sunday. And if Vick's accuracy before he was hurt drove you nuts, Matt Barkley's three picks last Sunday must have turned your living room furniture into kindling.
"If I'm out there, I'm full go," Vick said. "Give it everything I've got. Y'all know me. You know how I play. I don't hold anything back."
On Twitter: @samdonnellon