Friday, August 29, 2014
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Mike Check: Evaluating Vick's play

Michael Vick came through in the fourth quarter against the Texans when the Eagles needed him. Here's the full breakdown of how he performed as the Birds improved to 8-4.

Mike Check: Evaluating Vick's play

Michael Vick threw for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Texans last Thursday night. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Michael Vick threw for 302 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Texans last Thursday night. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Michael Vick completed 22 of 33 passes for 302 yards and accounted for three touchdowns in the Eagles' 34-24 win against the Texans Thursday night.

But maybe more importantly than the numbers, he led the Eagles on a pair of touchdown drives in the fourth quarter after they trailed, 24-20. And his teammates and coaches raved about Vick's leadership down the stretch.

Here's the full breakdown of how he performed.

As always, let's start with pass distribution.

  Targets Catches Yards YAC Drops
LeSean McCoy8886860
Jeremy Maclin8568261
Brent Celek7455281
DeSean Jackson5384170
Jason Avant21401
Owen Schmitt11520
TOTALS 31 22 302 159 3

Let's start with McCoy. He was tied with Maclin as the Eagles' most-targeted receiver. All eight of McCoy's catches were at or behind the line of scrimmage, and every ball thrown in his direction was complete.

On the season, McCoy is the team's second-most targeted receiver behind Maclin. He leads the Eagles with 67 receptions and is third with 543 receiving yards.

Maclin had one drop, but overall, was very efficient. He had a 34-yard grab, and four of his five catches earned first downs.

Celek had the drop in the end zone, but also made the game's biggest play with the 19-yard gain on third down in the fourth quarter. In Weeks 7, 9, 10 and 11, Celek had a total of just 10 targets. In the last two weeks, however, he has 14 targets. In other words, Vick's been looking his way a lot more, and Celek's been getting more opportunities to make plays in the passing game.

Andy Reid said the Eagles had more plays called for Jackson, but they just didn't work out. Vick completed two balls that traveled more than 25 yards from the line of scrimmage; both went to Jackson.

Avant had the drop in the end zone and only had two targets.

Vick completed passes to six different receivers. His first five completions went to five different receivers. No catches or targets for Chad Hall, Clay Harbor or Jerome Harrison.

Overall, Vick didn't have accuracy issues. In the two previous weeks, he had a few throws where a receiver was clearly open and Vick missed him. That didn't happen against the Texans.

THE BLITZ, PRESSURE, SHOTGUN, ETC.

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The Texans blitzed Vick on 11 of 40 dropbacks (27.5 percent). That's more than the Bears, but less than the Giants.

Against the blitz, he completed 5 of 9 passes for 97 yards. He was sacked once and scrambled for 7 yards on another play. The numbers should have been better, but both the Celek drop and the Avant drop came on plays where the Texans blitzed. Vick made good reads on both throws. The throw to Celek wasn't perfect, but he has to catch that ball. The Avant throw was right where it needed to be. The defensive back got in front of Avant, but again, he has to make that catch.

The Eagles were able to hit on a pair of big plays against the blitz - the 33-yard completion to Jackson and the 40-yard screen to McCoy.

In the pocket, Vick was 18-for-28 for 258 yards. The Eagles did a little more of rolling him out by design against Houston. He was 4-for-5 for 44 yards on those throws.

Vick also operated under center more than usual. Under center, he was 11-for-17 for 162 yards. From the shotgun, he was 11-for-16 for 140 yards.

Vick had success off of run fakes, completing 7 of 11 for 123 yards.

THIRD DOWN, RED ZONE

This is where we saw the biggest difference from the previous two weeks.

On third down, the Eagles were 6-for-12 (50 percent) after going 4-for-13 (30.8 percent) against the Bears and 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) in the previous two weeks.

Vick had the ball in his hands on 11 of 12 third downs, and the Eagles converted six of those. He was 6-for-9 for 65 yards, a touchdown and an interception on third down. It's worth noting that the Celek drop in the end zone was on a third down.

He ran twice - once for 6 yards and once for 10 yards. The latter netted a first down.

Celek was the most-targeted receiver on third down. Vick looked for him three times and completed two for 39 yards.

The Eagles got back on track in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on four of six trips. On the first drive, Vick hit McCoy for a touchdown. On the second drive, McCoy ran it in. The third red-zone possession is a bit deceiving. The Eagles weren't actually inside the 20 until fourth down when Vick scrambled 6 yards to the 18 from the 24, but it still counts.

On the fourth red-zone possession, the Eagles had drops from Avant and Celek. On the fifth drive, Vick ran it in from 2 yards away. And on the sixth drive, he found Schmitt for the 5-yard score. Maclin continues to be the Eagles' best red-zone receiver. Vick completed 2 of 3 red zone throws to Maclin for 16 yards.

Against Chicago the previous week, the Eagles were just 1-for-5 in the red zone.

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 14 16 127
Mid 5 7 78
Deep 1 5 34
Bomb 2 3 63


Vick was very efficient on the short throws. Obviously, McCoy was a big part of that, but Vick averaged 7.9 yards per attempt on throws that were within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Those are high-percentage plays, and the Eagles were able to pick up big chunks of positive yards.

As I mentioned above, both the Bombs went to Jackson. The Deep completion went to Maclin for 34 yards.

Vick looked twice for Celek Deep but came up empty on both occasions.

OVERALL

It was another good performance by Vick. He hit on some big plays downfield, but was content to dump it off to McCoy when necessary. The one interception was basically a jump-ball to Maclin deep down the sideline. On third down and in the red zone, Vick was excellent.

But what should be taken out of this game is how Vick performed in the fourth quarter when his team needed him. Entering the final 15 minutes, the Eagles trailed for the first time all game at 24-20.

All Vick did was complete 5 of 7 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown for a 153.2 fourth-quarter QB rating. He also ran for a score.

Check out these numbers: 35, 28, 26, 59, 27, 26, 34. Those are the Eagles' scoring totals in games that Vick has started and finished. They've scored no fewer than 26 points and are averaging 33.6 points in those seven games.

Keeping Vick upright is a concern, but as I mentioned in Man Up, I'm not sure there's a lot the Eagles will do, and I'm not sure there's a lot they should do. Vick is successful because he's dynamic and unpredictable. He can throw a screen to McCoy for 40 yards. He can hit Jackson with a perfect throw downfield for 35. Or he can take off and run for 20. Reid and Marty Mornhinweg seem to have found an almost-perfect balance between having Vick run the system and taking advantage of his strengths and talents.

Clearly, the Texans are nowhere near the Bears or even the Giants defensively. But when the dust settled Thursday night, the Eagles were 6-1 in games that Vick has started and finished. Now he gets to prove himself in high-pressure games down the stretch where everything is on the line, and there is a very small margin of error.

Vick has passed every test so far. It'll be fun to see how he responds as the Eagles take aim at a playoff spot, the NFC East title and playoff position.

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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