Michael Vick: Why the Eagles Offense, Not the Refs, Is To Blame

William PenfieldCorrespondent IIOctober 5, 2011

Michael Vick: Why the Eagles Offense, Not the Refs, Is To Blame

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    After the Philadelphia Eagles loss to the New York Giants in Week 3, Michael Vick complained in his post-game press conference about how he doesn't get the roughing-the-passer calls of Tom Brady and other pocket-passers.

    While Vick may think he has some serious gripe with the NFL referees, data has shown that they do not pick favorites when it comes to calling roughing the passer penalties.

    Vick should be more more focused on the fact that his "dream team" offense has yet to live up to its ability.

    Here is why the Eagles offense, not the refs, is to blame for the team's early season struggles. 

Vick's Inability To Keep the Ball Safe

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    The Philadelphia Eagles knew what they were getting into when they signed Michael Vick. He was going to take off when ever he felt all of his passing opportunities were gone and historically, he has never been able to keep the ball safe. 

    In his nine years in the NFL, Vick has fumbled the ball 29 times and lost it 12 of those times. 

    But this year has been particularly bad. 

    With six fumbles in four games, while rushing the ball, Vick has already set a career high. He has lost two of those fumbles, tied for second worst in his career.

    If the Eagles want a chance at recovering from this horrible 1-3 start they need to work with Vick on keeping the ball safe when he takes off from the pocket.

Inability To Convert on Short-Yardage Tries

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    The Philadelphia Eagles have struggled in short-yardage situations all season long without a true punishing back to rely on.

    This was never more apparent than when Ronnie Brown attempted to throw the ball from the goal line after taking a hand off against the San Francisco 49ers.

    Without a big tall receiver like Calvin Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald (their tallest receiver Riley Cooper has zero receptions this season) and a big bruising back, the Eagles need to find ways to get creative at the goal line. 

    Against the 49ers on Sunday, they scored just two touchdowns on seven trips to the red zone.

    Two weeks ago against the New York Giants, they had 1st and goal from the three, and 1st and goal from the two and settled for field goals both times. 

    One possible solution is to start handing the ball to fullback, Owen Schmitt, on short-yardage and goal line situations as he is 6'2" and 245 pounds, 37 pounds heavier than starting running back LeSean McCoy. 

    If the Eagles can't find a way to convert in short-yardage and goal line situations, it could be a long season for the "dream team."

Vick's Inefficiency Through the Air

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    Not only does Michael Vick struggle to keep the ball safe when he takes off out of the pocket, he has had issues with interceptions.

    In the first four games of the 2011 season, Vick has thrown just six touchdowns to three interceptions. In 2010, Vick threw only six interceptions for the entire season. He is on pace to break that mark by Week 8.

    His completion percentage is down 1.4 points from 2010, not a huge deal, and his quarterback rating is down 8.3 points from 2010.

    Just like when he runs, Vick has to work on making better decisions with the ball when he throws. If he is able to cut down on his interception rate, it will go a long way in fixing the Eagles offense. 

Referee's Show No Favortism on Rouging the Passer

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    According to Mike Pereira, Michael Vick is in the Top 10 of quarterbacks who draw a roughing the passer penalty every 100 passes. 

    The study shows that Vick gets more roughing the passer calls than elite quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

    Vick draws 0.88 roughing the passer penalties per 100 passes to Brady's 0.16 and Brees' 0.51.

    It would be in Vick's best interest to keep his mouth shut about the referees and work in practice to get his game back to where it needs to be because it is clear that he was wrong.

Defense an Issue as Well

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    To be fair to Michael Vick and the Eagles offense, the 1-3 start is not all their fault as the Eagles defense has been less than stellar, allowing 25.25 points per game.

    A star studded secondary, featuring Asante Samuel and Nnamdi Asomugha, allowed the San Francisco 49ers, Alex Smith, to throw for 291 yards and two scores without an interception, only the second game of the year that he has thrown a touchdown. 

    The secondary with multiple Pro Bowlers should not be allowing a quarterback like Alex Smith to have games like that against them. 

    The defense is also 30th in the league in opponents rushing yards, allowing 139.5 yards per game, so the blame can't entirely be put on the secondary.

    Overall, this Eagles team has gone from preseason "dream team" to a complete mess. If they want to right the ship and make the playoffs they have a lot of things, offensively and defensively, to work on.