Did the Giants Discover the Way to Deep Six the Eagles’ Michael Vick?

Michael Vick, shown here during training camp, threw a few passes at practice today.

Could Michael Vick be in line for a lot of game plans similar to the Giants', which slowed him down on Sunday night?

Up until Sunday Night, Michael Vick wasn’t just unstoppable, he was “unslowable.” Yes, the dynamic quarterback was good enough to warrant the invention of a brand new word.  Vick hadn’t been held to a quarterback rating below 90, had accounted for at least two touchdowns in every game he started and finished and was averaging 336.75 yards of total offense and 3.5 combined touchdowns in those four games.

On Sunday Night, despite leading the Eagles to a win, Vick appeared to be a mere mortal, accounting for 292 yards of offense and just one touchdown, a 4-yard run. Vick also fumbled twice and lost one, his first turnover as an Eagle and first since December 24, 2006 when he threw two picks in an Atlanta loss to Carolina.

“They just went more Cover 3 and 6 than what they had done in the past,” said head coach Andy Reid. “So, [the extra man] wasn’t necessarily in the box, well depending on how you look at the box, he was outside the tight end.”

The Giants utilized a strategy predicated on blitzing Vick from his left, forcing him to roll out to his right.  That makes a Cover 6 defense particularly effective, as it is essentially a Cover 3 shaded to one side.  Rather than having the three deep defensive backs split the field into thirds, one takes half of the field (in this case, the offensive left) and the other two each covers a quarter.   Therefore, by forcing Vick to his right with a blitz and leaving just one safety deep to his left, the Giants were able to split the field in half and provide good coverage in the secondary on the play side.

The Cover-6 also typically features man coverage on the best receiver on the field, which would be DeSean Jackson for the Eagles.  It makes a lot of sense against Vick, who is difficult to sack and able to launch the ball deep down the field, making him a defensive coordinator’s nightmare.

The Giants mixed the Cover-3 and Cover-6 in with a lot of zero blitzes, leaving no safeties down field, keeping Vick guessing throughout the game.

“You put so much on out on the line when you bring that type of blitz and we had a plan for it,” Vick said. “We really didn’t think we would see it as much and it was good that we had an opportunity to get that a lot today because we had a chance to work on it and be ready for it next time out.”

So Philadelphia hopes to adapt to the new looks it’s getting on defense, particularly when they vary so dramatically.  From no deep safeties and very little time to make a decision on a zero blitz to plenty of time while being flushed out against the grain with a tough secondary lining up deep safeties, Vick had to battle different schemes all day.

It’s hard to say which opponents might look to the Giants’ game plan and borrow some, if not all, of defensive coordinator Perry Fewell’s ideas.  Up next is a Chicago Bears team that runs a Tampa-2 defense thanks to head coach Lovie Smith’s five years with the Buccaneers.

The defense is a Cover-2 that is predicated on forcing teams to complete a series of passes to move the ball down the field, focusing on not giving up big plays.  It’s different in scheme, but similar in philosophy to Fewell’s “read and react,” mantra.

Regardless the Eagles now have one more scheme to keep in the back of their minds as a possibility, particularly as it was rather effective in slowing down the hottest player in the league.  The question is whether Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can scheme against it in the next week or so to get Vick ready for the one defense that has given him a bit of trouble this year.

If they’re successful, he just might go back to being unstoppable and “unslowable.”

For Eagles news and insight, follow Ryan Messick on Twitter.

Topics: Andy Reid, Eagles, Giants, How To Stop Michael Vick, Marty Mornhinweg, Michael Vick, New York Giants, Perry Fewell, Philadelphia Eagles, Vick

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  • Black Cat

    I don’t think they really did anything special to stop him! They may have slowed him down a little, but the game would not have been close if there wasn’t three drop passes in the end zone.

    You can guarantee the eagles will add more screens and toss plays like they did to win the game when you rush the right side the way the giants did.

    Good game Vick!

  • http://www.ryanmessick.net Ryan Messick

    There were some plays left out on the field, but part of that was due to the Eagles’ timing being thrown off a bit. Vick was under pressure on the throw to Jackson and it was a little low. The Avant drop, well, that was all on Avant, but that’s a rarity for him.

    The Eagles definitely need to neutralize the blitzes from the defensive right, as I think they’ll see more.

  • http://justkissie.com/ Kissie

    I must admit the Giants had me frightened for a moment and I know my Eagles had to be equally stunned. But, it was good to know what could stop us or we are vulnerable … I’m wondering if the Redskins didn’t bring their true A-Game.

  • http://www.ryanmessick.net Ryan Messick

    The Redskins didn’t even bring their C game, but the Eagles just proved they can beat a good team without their A game too.

  • http://justkissie.com/ Kissie

    Good point, Ryan! :-)

  • Nate Sparks

    The only reason this game was even close was due to three key dropped passes by Eagles receivers! One in the end zone. The Giants did very little to stop Vick…thus the 27-17 victory. Watch the game again on your DVR! Desean had two passes where he could have extended (like he did in the Redskins game) and caught what would have been open scoring throws. For whatever reason, DeSean didn’t extend as much as we are used to seeing, but all receivers have off days. Similarly, Jason Avant dropped the touchdown pass that hit him square in the chest? So…let’s see…the Giants number one defense in the NFL was unable to contain the Greatest Show on Turf and Michael Vick WINNING 27-17. Na…no brilliant “secret stop Vick” defense, just the number one defense being shown up. Can we all say “SUPER” season?

  • http://justkissie.com/ Kissie

    Oh yeah, Nate, that’s an excellent point re: the dropped passes. I forgot I kept mentioning during the game how much further we would have been if we weren’t reduced to field goals … I was also panicking when I heard how Akers fared against the Giants in the past. Didn’t like those stats at all!

    I’ll look at the game again to see it better because from where I sat, I thought the Giants’ D did way too much … for my comfort.

    Still though, SUPER SEASON! :-)

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving … hope you get to see some football.

  • http://www.ryanmessick.net Ryan Messick

    There were dropped passes and it could have been a blowout, yes, but the Giants’ approach was more successful than any other. Vick didn’t look like he was on cruise control the way he did in several of his other games.

  • Matt

    Regardless of what the score would/could/should have been, it was obvious that Vick was being rushed and missing throws. He overthrew Desean, missed him on an open seam, threw high of Jason Avant and had him make a circus catch in order to convert a 3rd and long, missed a number of quick hits underneath… not quite as accurate as he’d been in past weeks.

    I’m sure that Mike Vick himself would admit to being taken out of his comfort zone in that particular game. They caused him to roll right, where he’s less able to throw on the run. They could’ve been dominating in spite of the heavy defensive pressure, not because it wasn’t happening.

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