Despite What Chip Kelly Says, Improved Line Might Not Save Michael Vick in 2013

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Despite What Chip Kelly Says, Improved Line Might Not Save Michael Vick in 2013
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly thinks the offensive line is a major reason why Michael Vick struggled in 2012. And while that's a popular belief among those who like to cite the fact the Eagles offensive line lost four starters last season, there's actually a lot more to it. 

Here's what Kelly told WIP in Philly, according to SportsRadioInterviews.com:

The one thing I think with a quarterback is they get too much blame when things don't go well and they get too much praise when things do go well. But which Michael Vick do you have? The guy in 2010 who is the comeback player of the year and is running all over the field making great decisions? A lot of that because he's clean in protection, he's not getting hit immediately after he's getting the snap. The one thing, when I watched the film and I saw Michael last year, you just kind of almost felt bad for him, is you lost four lineman to season ending injuries.

[...]

There's no quarterback in any level of football that can function when you are missing four of your offensive lineman. So a lot of things that happened when you watch the film last year, it isn't all Michael's fault.

The tape definitely indicates that Vick was skittish and scared and lacking confidence in his line last season, and not having All-Pro Jason Peters at left tackle certainly hurt.

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That said, it's a stretch to suggest that Vick was taking snaps without 80 percent of his line. That excuse actually applies to rookie backup Nick Foles to more of an extent than it does to Vick, because Vick actually had his entire offensive line except Peters and Kelce during the first six weeks of the season, and in that stretch, he turned the ball over a league-high 13 times. He turned it over seven times in the first two weeks alone, and he had all but one offensive line starter supporting him during that stretch.

He was worse with his line mostly intact than he was with his line in complete shambles later in the year. 

And if injuries along the line were Vick's primary problem in 2012, how do you explain 2010 and 2011?

Vick's line was terrible in 2010, but he was great. It was solid in 2011, but he was terrible. And then everyone was bad together in 2012. During his entire time in Philadelphia, Vick's success has never been tied the success of the offensive line, so we have no reason to believe that'll change in 2013. 

In 2010, Vick committed only 0.82 turnovers per start while taking snaps behind a line that Pro Football Focus ranked 24th in the league in terms of pass-blocking efficiency. He was the second-most pressured quarterback in the league, per PFF, and he was sacked on 8.4 percent of his pass attempts. While under pressure, he completed 42.9 percent of his passes and had a 6-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Despite all that, he posted a 100.2 passer rating overall and was an MVP candidate. 

In 2011, Vick committed 1.39 turnovers per start while taking snaps behind a line that PFF ranked a respectable 15th in the league in terms of pass-blocking efficiency. He was the most pressured quarterback in the league, but he was actually pressured five percent less often than he was during that superb 2010 season. He was sacked on only 5.2 percent of his pass attempts. His numbers while under pressure (42.4 completion percentage and a 7-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio) were nearly identical to the prior season, but his overall passer rating plummeted to 84.9. He was a disaster, even with Peters and Todd Herremans starting virtually the entire season. 

In 2012, Vick committed 1.50 turnovers per start while taking snaps behind a line that PFF ranked 25th in the league in terms of pass-blocking efficiency. He was again the most pressured quarterback in the league, but he was still pressured less than he was during that superb 2010 season. He was sacked on 7.4 percent of his pass attempts. But while under pressure, his numbers dropped, with his completion percentage sinking to 41.4 and his touchdown-to-interception ratio falling to 2-to-6. Unsurprisingly, his overall passer rating kept plummeting to 78.1 

So will a better line and more consistency help? Of course. But will that be enough for Vick to become a reliable franchise quarterback again? Don't get your hopes up.

Vick still needs to change, period. His decisions are still the main problem, and he's taken so many hits over the past three seasons that it's tough to envision him somehow changing his game and getting back on track at the age of 33.

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