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.