How DeMarcus Ware, Cowboys Can Continue Punishing Michael Vick, Eagles

John RozumCorrespondent INovember 9, 2012

November 5, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick (7) is hit by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan (94) as he throws  during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE
Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Michael Vick was pummeled on Monday night against the New Orleans Saints.

In getting sacked seven times, Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles lost a tough road game and only managed 13 points versus one of the NFL's worst defenses.

Additionally, he completed just 53.6 percent of his throws, was picked off once and he fumbled another time. Unfortunately, Week 10 doesn't get any easier with the Dallas Cowboys coming for a visit.

Big D may be 3-5, but DeMarcus Ware and Co. are certainly more than capable of getting to Vick.

Courtesy of an unreliable offensive line, Dallas can reasonably be expected to blitz early and often. That said, let's check out how the Saints were able to apply so much pressure—because the Cowboys will need to give a similar performance.


Note: All screen-caps are courtesy of's Game Rewind.


Get to Vick Immediately

The Saints simply wasted no time in bringing the pain to the Eagles' offense. On Philly's first possession of the game Vick was sacked three times—although one turned out to be a bad roughing the passer penalty—and fumbled.

Still, the Eagles' initial drive lasted 14 plays and took roughly seven minutes off the clock. Too bad Philadelphia failed to score and punted away.

For one, show Vick various looks and blitzes. Secondly, blitz away from the play-action, which we see here. New Orleans comes out in a 4-3 Over look with a nickel.

As the play develops, a blitz comes backside from the slot and despite getting picked up, it prevents Vick from seeing the field and his receiving options—mainly because he panics, darts up into the pocket and then gets sacked.

The blitz.

The blitz gets picked up, but there's a narrow passing lane with two receivers who have their defenders beat. Instead of using his strong arm to laser one downfield, Vick bolts up into this lane and then obstructs his own field of vision.

Here, there are clearly three throws his arm is capable of making. Go up top and pinpoint one to the back-corner of the end zone. Or look downfield to his right and spot the ball down and away from the defender. As a last resort, the back at the bottom who leaked out and is uncovered.

But the initial blitz caused a panic, as did the not-so-perfect pocket. As a result, Vick runs into a sack because the linebacker spy also prevents him from deciding to scramble.

Showmanship, Vick Lacking Pre-Snap

Not only did the Saints blitz here, but Steve Spagnuolo showed the house and it put Vick in a bind before the snap.

Regardless of how good or bad a quarterback's offensive line may be, the signal-caller is the one who best views the field. And since that includes reading pre-snap blitzes, Vick cost himself on this one.

At this point in the game, Philadelphia needs a touchdown and Vick knows New Orleans is coming—not to mention that the line won't pass protect very long. Well, to minimize the damage from a blitz, recognizing all potential blitzers before the snap is required.

This ultimately fails to happen, though, and Vick ends up getting sacked once again. Plus, because he didn't read anything pre-snap, Vick doesn't even see the blitz until just before he's about to get tackled.

As you can see, New Orleans is literally telling Vick non-verbally, "Here we come."

Now, not everyone showing does blitz. Then again, it's up to Vick's communication with the line to prepare for everyone, find the hot-read receiver, and adjust the blocking scheme as the snap occurs.

But thanks to that lack of quick pre-snap thinking and reading, an interior offensive lineman is left with no one to block. Also, a shallow linebacker acts as a spy instead of a blitzer which leads to no recognition of the edge pressure coming unblocked.

Had Vick simply just acknowledged the outside defender to his left, the blocking protection could have shifted left at the snap. And with the one spy 'backer not blitzing, Vick would have been protected.

The end result, however, is another sack, and it's because Vick didn't read the defense pre-snap.

What to Expect From Dallas

Unlike the Saints, Dallas can remain a little more traditional with its blitz packages and coverage looks. This is basically due to the Cowboys being much better at defending the pass than New Orleans, as well as presenting DeMarcus Ware.

The Saints, though, still had to disguise a lot of pre-snap looks because they are a defense that allowed 447 total yards to Philadelphia. Big D possesses more reliable man coverage defenders and a stronger front seven against the run, and applies more consistent pressure without blitzing.

Nevertheless, the Cowboys will need to occasionally show blitz with inside 'backers and then attack from the outside. The Eagles are vulnerable anywhere across the line of scrimmage, so keeping Vick confused will create numerous turnover opportunities for the secondary.

And as long as Ware is performing like his usual self, Vick and the Eagles' passing game won't have a chance. Worst-case scenario is Ware draws a constant double-team and frees up another front-seven player to add pressure.

Regardless, Vick will still be making ill-advised throws and/or failing to thread the needle when needed. Just as we saw against the Big Easy.

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