Michael Vick took a lot of unnecessary punishment on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints. He was hit so frequently by the Saints defense that ESPN announcer Jon Gruden was prompted to say: “I don’t know what you call if you can’t pass protect.”
Vick was sacked seven times.
It could have been even worse if he weren’t so elusive.
The book is out on how to stop Vick and the Eagles offense—if you put pressure on the quarterback, the offense stalls. An example of this is seen in a sack that Vick took from Saints defensive end Will Smith in the third quarter.
Philadelphia’s offense was inside the Saints’ 10-yard line. On 2nd-and-goal from the eight, Vick was alone in the backfield in a five-wide set. New Orleans showed pressure before the snap, but no pre-snap offensive adjustments were made.
As soon as the ball was snapped, Smith came screaming off the edge, breezed by the offensive line untouched and hit Vick in the backfield for a loss of 11 yards.
The lack of adjustments essentially goes for the rest of Philadelphia’s offensive snaps as well—but what was so alarming about the Eagles’ handling of this particular play was how easily the New Orleans coverage could have been exploited.
New Orleans left the middle of the field wide open, begging for a receiver to be sent inside on a quick-in cut to celebrate a touchdown.
That’s not what happened.
Despite Vick’s willingness to deflect blame from his teammates—whether he passes blame to himself or the media—he has been affected by awful play up front. The Saints were able to do whatever they wanted in terms of pass-rushing the Eagles, knocking Vick around all night.
The box score will say he threw an interception deep in New Orleans territory that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown. The eye test says he threw what should have been a touchdown pass to Brent Celek, only to see it tipped and picked off by Patrick Robinson.
Those things were not necessarily Vick’s fault. But there were times that he could have put the Eagles in better position to make plays prior to the snap.
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