Michael Vick To Play: A Blow for the Detroit Lions Against Philadelphia Eagles
This Week 2 matchup could not have gotten any worse for the Lions.
This injury couldn't have come at a better time for the Eagles.
Arguably a bigger loss for the Eagles was the season ending injury to Jammal Jackson, who tore his triceps muscle in Week 1. That injury surely made the Lions defensive front—Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and the ghost of Cliff Avril—salivate.
Suh, especially, has to relish the shot at Mike McGlynn in his first start of NFL action. The Eagles center has only played in three career games poses a much lighter matchup than Olin Kreutz of the Chicago Bears did in Soldier Field.
Suh will get that shot and likely manhandle McGlynn, but Kolb won't be there.
Undoubtedly, no one will be.
How Does One Stop Michael Vick?
Vick isn't going to just sit in the pocket and let the rush come to him. He isn't going to utilize the same five-step-drops and hit his receivers on complex routes.
He is going to roll out, or do what Michael Vick does best—feel the pass rush, evade, make linebackers look silly.
Vick piled up rushing yards on a very good Green Bay Packers defense, what else should be expected against the Lions?
To stop Vick, a team needs two things: speedy outside linebackers who have the presence of mind to contain a rushing quarterback, and a middle linebacker who can sit in a zone and still click-and-go the second Vick steps up to leave the pocket.
The Detroit Lions have neither.
A misconception about Vick is that he's always looking to run, that simply isn't the case.
Vick, at his worst, runs more than he should, and puts his head down early. But, even on those days, the veteran playmaker can still torch a good secondary for a couple hundred yards.
Oh, the Detroit Lions don't have a good secondary either.
Another common mistake people make about Vick is that he's always running backward or side-to-side—a thought fostered by a couple of highlight plays and too much Madden.
In truth, Vick loves to run up the middle of the field as the pocket is collapsing, picking his way through and leaving jock-less linebackers in his wake.
The Detroit Lions Defense Built To Stop Guys Like Kevin Kolb, Not Michael Vick
The Lions defense invites that kind of up-the-middle scrambles with their defensive front alignment. The Lions defense eschews the normal 1-3-5-7 gap scheme and widens out their defensive ends creating (usually) a 1-3-7-9 look.
The purpose of the defense is to constantly apply pressure to the quarterback and funnel plays to the inside where the linebacking corps stops everything in its tracks.
As the NFL trends more toward 3-4 defenses, this is a four-man-front which utilizes 3-4 principals and (when done right) can stifle even a great pocket passer. This is the defense Jeff Fisher created to stop Peyton Manning, and all can agree that Kevin Kolb is no Peyton Manning.
Against that defense, Vick is a game changer—he is faster than most defensive ends can contain and is more than willing to take those linebackers on in the open field.
If all goes well for the Eagles on Sunday, Vick is going to turn the heat up on this simmering quarterback controversy. If all goes well, McGlynn won't have to worry about getting beat like one of Vick's pit bulls.
Vick covers over a multitude of sins.
Detroit Has Some Hope Though
It isn't all dark skies and shattered dreams for the Gridiron Heroes of Motown.
Two of the Lions starting defenders are one-week healthier as Louis Delmas (who played the entire game in Week 1) and DeAndre Levy (who has not played since Week 3 of the preseason) are both expected to start.
Levy isn't the prototypical middle linebacker for Vick-stopping. Not always aware of his surroundings, he's better perusing sideline to sideline (where no linebacker catches Vick) than stonewalling in the middle of the field.
Still, Levy is an upgrade and, at-worst, can (hopefully for the Detroit faithful) turn would-be 20-yard scampers into four-yarders with some sound play and good pursuit angles.
Through the air, the Lions secondary will need to cover an extra second than they are accustomed as wideouts look to push deep and mirror their quarterback's movements as he runs around the backfield.
Eagles fans can look forward to at least one busted play turning into gold as DeSean Jackson should have no problem getting behind the Lions two-deep coverage scheme.
The Lions defense will need to hold up against Vick and company because Matthew Stafford is dealing with injury problems of his own and Shaun Hill will be getting his first start in Honolulu Blue and Silver.
More Injury Notes:
The Detroit Lions listed the following players on their injury report:
Cliff Avril (knee/finger) and Matthew Stafford (right shoulder) did not practice Thursday. C.C. Brown (forearm), S Louis Delmas (groin/biceps/calf) and DeAndre Levy (groin) were limited.
Jahvid Best (toe) had full participation in practice today.
The Philadelphia Eagles are even more banged up:Stewart Bradley (concussion) and Kevin Kolb (concussion) did not practice Thursday. Jason Avant (back), Antwan Barnes (wrist), Mike Bell (toe), Nick Cole (knee), Todd Herremans (ankle), Austin Howard (back), Akeem Jordon (groin), Trevor Laws (oblique) and Sav Rocca (hamstring) each had full participation in practice.
Brodrick Bunkley and Ernie Sims were removed from the injury report.
Michael Schottey is the managing editor for the College Writing Internship at Bleacher Report and an NFL Featured Columnist. Follow him on Twitter
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