Why Michael Vick's Lack of Awareness Is His Biggest Downfall

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Why Michael Vick's Lack of Awareness Is His Biggest Downfall
John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE

After a disheartening 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football, the book on MIchael Vick's season is shaping up midway through a year wrought with far too many sacks, fumbles and interceptions.

What is Vick circa 2012's main storyline? What is his biggest weakness?  

Well, to be fair, Vick's biggest problem is beyond his control: He cannot block for himself.

Philly's O-Line is on the verge of historic levels of bad. We're talking throwing-snowballs-at-Santa bad. Ray-Rhodes-1998 bad.

Vick was sacked seven times Monday by a defense that strikes fear into the hearts of, well, middle schoolers everywhere. A defense that could not spell sack if you spotted it the S, A and the C. A defense that has been frequent-flyer, double-digit-points bad, giving up 400 yards in each of the eight games it has played this season.

Yet, that same defense—which is giving new meaning to the phrase "bend but don't break"—sacked Michael Vick seven times Monday.

If Vick is a true leader, the kind of leader he aspires to be, he will—after this fourth loss in five games—focus on what he can control and not what is out of his hands.

What Vick can control is his awareness in the pocket.

Vick can't play offensive tackle or guard and he can't fill in for the fullback to help pick up a block.

However, he can work harder than he has ever worked at improving his awareness in the pocket, picking up the blitz, reading defenses, checking his blocks and his escape-hatch receivers.

Vick has now been sacked 27 times this season.

You can easily attribute a majority of those sacks to the Sponge Bob Squarepants offensive line, but Vick's lack of awareness is good for about a third of those sacks.

So, nearly 10 times this season, Vick's blinders-on field vision has led to lost yardage for his team. For a team that has been in most every game this season, those 10 or so opportunities could mean the difference between a 3-6 and 6-3 record.

Awareness is so much about instinct.

But parts of it can be taught, subtle techniques that can improve his field vision, mental notes to keep him on point as receivers progress through defenses and simple checkdowns.

Vick seems to have lost much of that, though it's hard to blame him, given the lack of time he has in the pocket.

But the best quarterbacks in the league—which Vick was considered to be among just two years ago—perform not only in ideal situations but in unfriendly ones as well.

Vick, to be great, must be at least average when everything in front of him would spell disaster for mere mortal quarterbacks. Winning when you're not at your best defines greatness and Vick has failed to do that this year.

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