Breaking Down Michael Vick's Form at the NFL's Midseason Mark
Vick had signed a six-year, $100 million contract after his stellar MVP-caliber season in 2010. However, NBC’s Pro Football Talk reported soon afterwards that Vick’s deal wasn’t quite what it seemed to be.
Either way though, the Eagles made a statement by signing Vick to such a deal. Vick disappointed in 2011, throwing a career-worst 14 interceptions as the Eagles missed the playoffs. He followed that up with six picks in his first two games of the 2012 season, and it’s safe to say Vick is on the hot seat.
At times this year, Vick has looked downright unstoppable. He has the raw talent NFL general managers dream of, but he hasn’t yet put it all together. His struggles have been well-documented, and a close look at Vick’s form has to make the Eagles wonder if Vick is really their quarterback that can deliver a championship to the city.
On passes thrown between zero and nine yards, here are Michael Vick’s numbers the last three seasons.
2010: 122-for-161 (75.8%), 1,123 yards (6.98 YPA), 8 TD, 2 INT, 105.7 rating
2011: 106-for-149 (71.1%), 934 yards (6.27 YPA), 3 TD, 4 INT, 83.0 rating
2012: 63-for-91 (69.2%), 527 yards (5.79 YPA), 2 TD, 2 INT, 82.1 rating
That’s not a huge difference from 2011 to 2012, but the drop-off Vick experienced from ’10 to ’11 is enormous.
A look at Michael Vick’s numbers on passes thrown between 10 and 19 yards in the air:
2010: 50-for-83 (60.2%), 879 yards (10.59 YPA), 5 TD, 0 INT, 116.5 rating
2011: 64-for-100 (64.0%), 1,125 yards (11.25 YPA), 5 TD, 5 INT, 98.1 rating
2012: 36-for-54 (66.7%), 705 yards (13.06 YPA), 1 TD, 4 INT, 85.0 rating
Vick has actually improved each year he’s been with the Philadelphia Eagles in terms of his completion percentage and his yards per attempt. The drastic change though this year has been the decline in touchdown passes and the increase in interceptions.
With Vick having thrown four picks already on medium passes, he’s actually on pace for nearly 10, and that’s just on passes between 10 and 19 yards in the air.
It’s the story of the season for the Eagles: turnovers.
When Michael Vick was arguably the MVP of the league in 2010, much of his success came on deep passes to DeSean Jackson. Very few teams can cover Jackson one-on-one and he has the ability to take it to the house on any given play.
The problem is that the Philadelphia Eagles aren’t letting Vick air it out to Jackson and Jeremy Maclin nearly as much in 2012.
Vick’s numbers on passes thrown at least 20 yards in the middle of the field:
2010: 15-for-35 (42.9%), 549 yards (15.4 YPA), 5 TD, 2 INT, 105.7 rating
2011: 12-for-26 (46.2%), 416 yards (16.0 YPA), 1 TD, 2 INT, 73.4 rating
2012: 2-for-12 (16.7%), 42 yards (3.5 YPA), 1 TD, 2 INT, 29.9 rating
Much of that can be attributed to a subpar offensive line that just hasn’t given Vick the time he needs to set his feet and wait for his receivers to get downfield.
There’s really no way to know what Vick’s numbers would be this year with the protection he received in 2010. But throws like this one against the Detroit Lions don’t help Vick’s case.
The Eagles tried a deep pass to Jackson that would have seemingly put the game away. Vick appeared almost lackadaisical on the throw, putting it on Jackson’s wrong shoulder and vastly underthrowing him. The ball was picked off and the Lions eventually came back to win.
Michael Vick has been criticized much of his career for his decision-making. Vick has historically struggled to read a defense, and plays like this one against the Cleveland Browns are decisions a rookie quarterback would make.
Look at this pass Vick threw that was picked off by linebacker Craig Robertson.
Vick had absolutely no business trying to throw the ball across the field like he did. There were three defenders near Brent Celek, and the ball was easily intercepted.
When Vick makes plays like that, it’s easy to wonder if the Philadelphia Eagles can really win a Super Bowl with him.
Look at the roller coaster that has been Michael Vick’s passer rating this season:
Week 1: 51.0
Week 2: 94.7
Week 3: 64.8
Week 4: 99.4
Week 5: 104.2
Week 6: 77.4
He’s settled down in recent weeks, but that’s not the inconsistency a team wants from a player being paid $100 million.
Vick has resembled Tim Tebow too much this season in that he can be scarily erratic early in the game before picking it up in the fourth quarter.
While the late-game heroics have been tremendous, the Philadelphia Eagles need Vick to settle down and play solid football for 60 minutes.
Ability to Read the Blitz
Last year when he was blitzed, Michael Vick threw six touchdowns to just 11 interceptions. His completion percentage was at just 56.7 and his passer rating of 65.5 put him among the NFL’s worst.
This year, Vick has shown remarkable improvement. He has completed just 52.3 percent of his passes but he’s tossed four touchdowns to no interceptions on 88 pass attempts, and his 95.7 passer rating is a 30-point improvement.
That’s admittedly a small sample size, but if Vick can continue to sense when the blitz is coming and take advantage of the weapons he has around him, teams will stop blitzing. As a result, the Philadelphia Eagles much-aligned offensive line won’t have to worry about as many defenders coming at Vick.
As a pocket passer, Michael Vick has some work to do. He sometimes fails to set his feet properly before throwing the ball which can lead to errant passes and high interception totals. And he’s so fast and so shifty that it can be tough for an offensive lineman to always know where he is.
But Vick’s offensive line this year is arguably the worst he’s ever played under, yet his sack percentage is the second-lowest of his career.
Vick deserves some credit for that. As a rookie, he was painfully inept at recognizing defenders pursuing him, and the result was an outrageous 15.2 sack percentage. That number hovered around 8-10 percent for much of his Atlanta days, hitting 12.5 the year Vick took the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game.
In Philadelphia in 2010, Vick was sacked on 8.4 percent of his plays. Last year, that number was down to a career-best 5.2 percent. In 2012, Vick is being dropped at a rate of 6.9 percent of snaps, which isn’t too bad when the quality of the offensive line is factored in.
There have definitely been some instances in which Vick’s lack of awareness has cost the Philadelphia Eagles. Who can forget the 93-yard fumble return touchdown by James Sanders right before halftime in the Arizona game?
In that game, Vick was trying to tack on a late first-half touchdown for an Eagles team that had been thoroughly outplayed for 30 minutes. He was hit from his blind side by Kerry Rhodes, fumbled the football, and the Eagles never again threatened.
Since he was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001, Michael Vick has played all 16 games in a season just once.
He missed three games last season to rib injuries, but also suffered a slew of other close calls. Vick sustained a concussion, a right hand contusion, an injured finger, and broken ribs that finally sidelined him.
The general consensus is that Vick’s reckless style of play leads to his injuries. That theory was not the case in 2011, as Philly.com’s Sheil Kapadia points out. Vick simply sustained some unfortunate luck but didn’t miss any time until the rib injuries.
This year, Vick hasn’t missed a game despite an offensive line that is already missing two starters. All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles tendon and starting center Jason Kelce tore his MCL in Week 3. Vick's continued health is one of the big factors that must happen for the team to contend for a Super Bowl.
The Philadelphia Eagles rank fourth-last in the NFL in pass blocking efficiency, per Pro Football Focus. They’ve surrendered the eighth-most sacks in the league, and only four other teams in the NFL have given up as many hurries (29) by their offensive tackles.
Yet Vick has stayed in the pocket more than ever this year, and he’s shown an impressive ability to absorb the hits. The hits have to be taking their toll on Vick, who stands just 6’ tall and weighs about 215 pounds. But he deserves a lot of credit for his toughness this season.
Back when he was on the Atlanta Falcons, Michael Vick made his mark in the NFL by being a run-first, pass-second quarterback.
In 2006, Vick became the first quarterback ever to run for at least 1,000 yards in a season and plays like this one made him a YouTube sensation.
Vick would routinely run the ball 100 times per season, topping out at 123 in 2006.
With the Eagles, he’s tried to become a pass-first, run-second quarterback, and it's almost led to an identity crisis. Say what you want about ESPN First Take's Skip Bayless, but he's dead-on with his comments about Vick.
Vick rushed 100 times in 2010, then just 76 times in 2011, and his 41 rushes so far in ’12 put him on pace for about 105. It’s a high total but significantly fewer than the number he put up in Atlanta.
Vick isn’t quite as effective this year as he was in his prime. That’s to be expected for a quarterback that is now 32 years old and in his 10th NFL season. But Vick’s 5.0 yards per carry average is a startling drop from last year’s 7.8 mark and far less than his career average of 7.0.
His worst feature though has been his inability to hold onto the football. Vick has fumbled nine times in 2012, and his turnovers are a major reason why the Eagles are just 3-3.
Vick’s costliest fumble to date was either the one against Arizona that was returned for a score or the one near the goal line against Pittsburgh, a game that ended up being a two-point loss.
The 2011 Philadelphia Eagles’ season was mired by fourth-quarter collapses, which makes it refreshing to see the late-game heroics by Michael Vick in 2012.
Vick led back-to-back touchdown drives late in the game to beat the Cleveland Browns in Week 1 and the Baltimore Ravens in Week 2. He pulled off a field-goal drive to help the Eagles knock off the New York Giants in Week 4.
Even in the Eagles’ last two losses, Vick has been extremely clutch. He led a touchdown drive against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5, although the defense couldn’t hold onto a one-point lead. And against the Detroit Lions last week, Vick threw a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin with five minutes remaining that should have wrapped up an Eagles win.
Vick’s eight touchdowns to eight interceptions this season aren’t the statistics of a $100 million quarterback, but the efficiency he’s showed in the clutch is matched only by few.
The Bottom Line
Michael Vick isn’t worth the money he’s making this season, that’s for certain. With the weapons he has surrounding him, the Philadelphia Eagles should be among the NFL’s elite offenses.
Fans will always wonder whether the team can win a Super Bowl with Vick.
Until he proves it can be done, it’s tough to believe it can happen. Vick has only ever advanced to the conference championship game once, and he’s won just two playoff games to date.
Vick and the Eagles play in a tough NFC with the New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons, all figuring to be strong contenders for a Super Bowl berth.
For the Eagles to come out on top of those teams, they’re going to need a strong performance from Vick. They’re going to need his elite passing skills, his exceptional running skills, an ability to stay healthy, and most importantly, absolutely no turnovers.
And 2012 may be Vick’s last year to prove he can still do it.
1. Unless Michael Vick leads Eagles to the playoffs, league sources believe that this will be the quarterback’s last season in Philadelphia.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 14, 2012
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