Today Eagles quarterback Michael Vick hopes to exorcise two demons as he faces the Bears in Chicago: cold weather and the “Tampa-2.” Vick’s struggles in frigid temperatures during the early part of his career were well documented, as were his struggles against Tampa Bay. Now that Chicago head coach Lovie Smith uses the old Buccaneers defensive schemes with the Bears, Vick can demonstrate his growth in both areas at once, although in ways he already has.
During Vick’s Atlanta days, he struggled mightily against a Tampa Bay defense that kept him in the pocket. Vick ran for just one touchdown in 10 games against the Buccaneers and averaged only 42.5 rushing yards per game. Vick also completed just 53.5 percent of his passes for 125.8 yards per game, 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, amassing a passer rating of 75.4.
Chicago, like Tampa Bay, employs a Cover-2 defense in which the middle linebacker drops deep into coverage, making it similar to a Cover-3. With all of the defensive players in zone coverage, they have their eyes facing the quarterback and can’t be caught off guard by a running quarterback. The deep zones of the safeties and middle linebacker also limit big passing plays – the Bears have given just two passes of 40 yards or more this year, good for second in the league.
“The Bears defense, my God, looking at them on film—we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Vick said. ”It’s a good group of guys that we’re playing against, a lot of veterans over there. They fly around to the football. You’ve got to put together an excellent game plan to beat them.”
Vick also looks to prove he can win tough road games in cold weather towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, something he struggled with in Atlanta. Now that he’s in Philadelphia practicing and playing in cold weather though, Vick thinks he’s better prepared to handle the elements.
“Maybe God brought me here to play in the cold weather so that when I get to the playoffs I have a chance,” Vick said.
If the resurgent superstar can grab a win in the Windy City, the Eagles will surely like his chances in the playoffs. Vick’s already proven he can beat teams from the pocket and shown that he’s regained the speed and elusiveness he had earlier in his career. A good performance on Sunday would be just one more benchmark as Vick continues to resurrect his career.
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