It didn’t take long into Monday night’s game for fans and media to figure out that Michael Vick was born to run Chip Kelly’s offense. It was a perfect fit for his skill set – it created an environment where Vick only had to make simple reads, it caused single coverage somewhere, and if need be he could always take off and run the ball. But what also became more evident as the game went on is that, unless Vick decides to change his ways, there is simply no way he’s going to last 16 games.
According to the film study done by Ron Jaworski, Vick was involved in contact on 23 of 77 snaps played. That’s 30% of the plays. This includes hits not only hits from pass rushers in the pocket, but also unnecessary hits close to the sidelines. Oh, and Michael felt the need to channel his inner Vonta Leach and lead block down the field.
Now, since 2010 I’ve seen enough of Vick to understand what type of player he is. I understand that he plays with great intensity, and feels the need to put the team on his back to win games. He will do just about anything to win. This what makes him a great player, but it is also one of his biggest weaknesses.
I’m not going to give you a bunch of stats but here is the most important one to me: In Eagles games that Vick has started and finished, the Eagles are 18-12. In games that someone else starts, finishes (or both), the Eagles are 4-14. There is no question the Eagles are a better team with Vick than without, and it’s even more true in an offense that was built for him.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Nick Foles and I like how he’s developed over the past off-season. While I don’t believe he’s suited for this system, I have no doubt that Chip can tailor the offense to minimize his weaknesses. But after watching Dallas and New York struggle mightily and seeing the Eagles handle the Redskins, I have no doubt the NFC East is as wide open as it ever was – and with Vick at the helm the Eagles are absolutely in the running. With Foles, I don’t think they are.
So what do I think Vick has to do to last a full season? Hey, if I could figure that out I’d be a rich man. But I do have some suggestions.
First would be for Vick to learn to trust his protection. He has an extremely talented offensive line that is going to get better as the season goes on. Rather than getting happy feet as soon as he feels something coming, trust your lineman, climb the pocket, and deliver a throw. If Vick can do this and get the ball out as fast as Chip would like, it would greatly limit the number of hits he takes.
Second would be stop blocking. Just please.. stop. There are very big men that get paid good money to do that for you. Our ball carriers can handle taking hits.
Thirdly, live to fight another day. If you absolutely know you’re going to get sacked, just hit the dirt. If you’re scrambling and a LB or safety is coming up to cream you, just throw it out of bounds. Even if it means killing a drive there will be another soon enough.
I highly doubt Vick will change his ways. He’s simply to set in them at his age to be able to change. Our best hope is that Chip Kelly can use his play calling to limit the amount of contact Vick will take, but he will never be able to eliminate it completely.
Before you give me the “this is who he is, this is how he plays, we just need to deal with it” stuff, stop. That’s not true at all. If Vick wants to be the franchise QB of the Philadelphia Eagles he owes it to the coaches, fans, and teammates to make sure he does everything in his power to play a full season. With great power comes great responsibility. The Eagles are better off with him than without this year and it’s up to Vick to make sure that happens.
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