Following Saturday night’s game, there were two major issues I wanted to address. One is Vick’s performance, the other is the overall defensive performance. Vick first:
If anything, Saturday’s game was a good illustration of what we should expect from the team this year. The previous two games, the offense had looked very good. There were a few miscues but, overall, the unit moved quickly and consistently. That, of course, was not the case on Saturday.
I’m not that concerned, but that’s because my expectations were already different from many commentators/analysts. I’ve said it several times, in several different places, but:
What are those? Michael Vick’s career completion percentage, QB Rating, and TD/INT ratio. To be clear, I think the offense will be very good this year with Vick at QB. However, the guys has played 10 seasons in the NFL; our expectations for his performance this year should be made in reference to that sample.
The upshot? The offense is going to be good, but inconsistent, if Vick is the QB. Derek Sarley, formerly of IgglesBlog, has a great breakdown here. (Promo code Q42B). The reason I like his analysis so much is that it perfectly highlights two of the biggest issues I have with Vick (both of which I’ve mentioned before):
– He doesn’t anticipate routes, he waits for receivers to be open.
– He often turns down the open short throw (and primary option) in hopes of getting something downfield.
That second point, in particular, is a major reason why I was hoping for Foles to be named the starter. All of Chip’s schemes and the entire idea behind the “simple math” option design, by definition, requires the QB to consistently take whatever the defense gives him. That’s definitely an attribute of the offense, not a drawback, but it means Vick needs to be willing, for example, to throw a quick screen rather than wait for a downfield throw.
Part of this might be confidence. Vick’s strength is overwhelmingly in his deep throw accuracy and power. Therefore, it makes sense that those would be the throws he looks for most often. However, that mindset is going to result in some missed opportunities (like the missed screen in the link above).
With Vick as QB, there are going to be a lot of stalled drives. The flip-side is that there will also be a number of deep-strikes. The hope, obviously, is that the “explosiveness” more than compensates for the weaknesses. Time will tell, but I’m hopeful.
Remember when I said that Vick as the starter is BAD for the O-Line? I don’t have the All-22, but I suspect that played a role in the unit’s relatively poor performance on Saturday. He holds the ball for a long time (partly because he doesn’t take the open short routes consistently), and he’s prone to rolling out of the pocket rather than stepping up in it. Again, that’s NOT GOING TO CHANGE.
So far, this probably sounds like an “I told you so” post and a likely overreaction to one preseason game; that’s not my intention. So let me repeat:
I expect the offense, under Vick, to be very good this year.
My overall point here is that, over the past two weeks, I’ve tried to remind everyone that Vick’s game has several large, and well-known weaknesses. Over the first two preseason games, those weaknesses were largely hidden, which led some to suggest they were no longer there. Saturday’s performance should have dispelled that notion.
I’m guessing a lot of fans were disappointed with the defense, particularly on the long TD run. Again, this goes back to expectations. Odds are, the Eagles’ defense will not be “good” this year. We’re going to see some ugly play, there’s simply no way around it. The overall talent level on defense is low. As a result, I’m not going to get upset over the occasional 60 yard run. It’s terrible defense, and the team won’t win a SB until its fixed, but expecting better, at this point, is just foolish. It’s going to take at LEAST another offseason to address the defense. Until then, we all have to hope that the huge breakdowns can be minimized. Whereas last year, the team was destroyed by long passes, I expect this year’s team to be attacked on the ground. That should be a net positive, but it’s going to be frustrating anyway.
Look for the Eagles to add a CB and/or S after league-wide cuts are made. The DB depth is, by far, the biggest current roster construction issue. Right now, the team is one or two injuries away from being in serious trouble on the back end. As I said last week, if anything is going to blow this season up, it’s an injury or injuries to guys like Fletcher/Williams or Chung. The Eagles desperately need some insurance there. As cuts get made, that’s the only position group I’m really looking at around the league.
“I don’t have the All-22, but I suspect that played a role in the unit’s relatively poor performance on Saturday. He holds the ball for a long time (partly because he doesn’t take the open short routes consistently), and he’s prone to rolling out of the pocket rather than stepping up in it”
No they were bad on their own – Vick’s play didn’t have much to do with that.
While I agree the oline wasn’t great I still saw the same thing from Vick.
Too often he feels pressure the just isn’t there and panics early. Other times he doesn’t feel the pressure that actually is there. It looks like he’s guessing and that worries me.
It’s like once the o line breaks down once or twice early he loses his trust in them and starts playing anxious and guessing where the pressure might be. He’s great when he does trust his protection. You can see it when his legs never settle.
The first play of the game Vick had pressure in his face in under 2 seconds. Herremans got beat quickly and Mike had to escape in order to make the throw to Avant. A couple plays later Lane Johnson got beat(again, when Vick caught the snap to threatening defender under 2 seconds) and Mike got sacked. I know the Jax game confirmed some biases for you, but most of the pressure came from quick pressure, not Mike holding it too long. The protection was bad all knight and Mike handled it well.
Mike’s biggest problem is trying to do to much, such as the play when he tried to throw the ball away as the Jax defender had him in the grasp, but I’ve seen several top QBs do that, including Brady on his first attempted pass against us in the preseason. But once again, it was quick pressure(unblocked defender on twist who wasn’t picked up by Mathis or Kelce). We had 6 blockers for 4 and a man came unblocked. Under 2.5 seconds is on the line.
Even on that swing pass Mike was thrown off by a very high snap. It ruined his timing so he elected to throw it away. Mike didn’t have a perfect day, but it was productive considering the pressure. Picking out a few late or missed reads out of the majority of his preseason snaps is just confirmation bias.
No question the line didn’t help him very much, but it looked to me like BOTH (Vick and OLine) had serious issues at times.
Regarding the confirmation bias, it’s a good point and a fair criticism. However, I’d note that I mentioned them while highlighting the fact that they’re the same issues that have plagued his career. Over the entire preseason, he’s looked very good (as you said). Even so, I think it’s wrong to expect that level of play during the season. I think he’ll be good, but two good preseason games isn’t nearly enough to make me think he’s improved his route anticipation or pocket mobility.
I do expect the run game to help him significantly. The team didn’t run the ball much on Saturday (partly because the Jags stacked the box quite often), but also to protect Shady. McCoy at full go should make it a lot easier for both Vick and the O-Line.
If the protection is solid, I think he will have a career year. I don’t expect a high 70s completion pct., but definitely mid to high 60’s. His career as a Falcon was way overrated, but his career as and Eagle is underrated. I know 2010 is looked at as his only good year in Philly, but his FO and QBR numbers are virtually identical to ’10. Pro Football Focus wrote this article about his play in 2011, and that was when we were 2-4. https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2011/10/29/stories-of-the-season-michael-vick/. After that season he was in their top ten. 2012 was the result of a horrific line and play-calling that just wouldn’t adjust. He hit the same plateau under Reid as Donovan did.
Against Jax he started off strong, but had the bad INT when he should have taken the sack, and also the mishandled snap and the aforementioned throw while he was falling and in the grasp of the defender. I expect Vick to be real good, but I know eventually he will do too much and put himself in a bad situation. But I think his overall production will trump those hiccups.
Now to see whether he can stay healthy, which admittedly is a dicey proposition for 16 games.
Meant to say 2011 was identical to 2010.
I wasn’t glued to the game, but it looked to me like there were a lot of factors. I saw the old Vick I love and hate. I saw a line with some issues, and I read somewhere that jax was slanting, which the online didn’t know how to deal with that well. This will get better as the season rolls along because chip knows how to counter this from college, but its a work in progress.
More things to consider: the plays seemed to be more straight up traditional pass plays. Maybe chip wanted to see Vick in this kind of circumstance. Also, the whole offense isn’t on the table yet.
This all makes it hard to have a good read on what to expect. I guess I’m with Brent. The offense will be pretty good and likely explosive, but there will be development as the players get used to it and chip finds out what works in the nfl. There will be some screw ups and sputtering at times. Ideally, I just want to feel really good about where we’re headed by the end if the season. Like that first time we won the nfce under Reid. Screw the giants. If we won the nfce this year, I would poop my pants.
From my admittedly amateur view, it appeared that the Jags forced Vick to read pass, and it wasn’t so much the playcall from the sideline as Vick’s reads that resulted in the pass-heavy offense. Then you add in Vick’s admitted propensity for always looking to make plays and you can see why he didn’t hit the check-downs when those were the proper plays. The o-line wasn’t good, but from what I’ve read, they’re not supposed to be providing 3 seconds of pocket – they block pretty much the same no matter the read made by the QB; that’s why it is so important to take those checkdowns when the defense is giving them to you. I think that, unless Vick truly has re-made his entire mental make-up (and I agree with Brent that it is unlikely at this point), the Jags game is a pretty good indicator of how this offense will operate under Vick this season. Definitely not bad, but nowhere near what Kelly wants his offense to look like, and nowhere near the stratospheric projections by the people who always seem to think that this year is the year that a coach actually “uses Vick right.” In fact, I think that as long as Vick is healthy, this offense will look a lot more like the Reid offense in terms of results than most people are expecting – there will be some absolute blowouts of lesser defenses, and some really major struggles against average to above average defenses.