LeBron James played in Cleveland for seven years before he felt the urge to leave. Michael Vick needed just one day to declare his exodus from Cleveland. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
“I gotta get out of Cleveland.” – Good call, Michael Vick. Good call. In fact, don’t even bother bringing your quarterbacking skills with you. We’ll find you a new set when you get back home. Just get out of Cleveland ASAP as possible.
As I’m sure you’ve read or watched by now, Vick was HORRENDOUS in Sunday’s opener against the lowly Cleveland Browns. His four interceptions could have easily been seven. He missed open receivers, took way too many unnecessary hits, and nearly lost a fumble late in the 4th quarter. Remember that epic six-touchdown performance in Washington on November 11, 2010? It was just like that… only the complete opposite. Put simply, Vick’s play was in line with the Eagles opponent; brown.
Then again, are we really that shocked? Vick’s play has deteriorated rapidly since his comeback in 2010. Since that season, Vick’s touchdown to interception ratio is nearly 1:1. His accuracy has dipped and his ability to read a defense (especially a blitzing defense) never really developed. In the words of Dennis Green, Michael Vick is who we thought he was, and now the Eagles are on the hook. But is it all Vick’s fault?
No, of course not. If your quarterback struggles with the blitz, which of the following do you think is the most appropriate response? A. Slow down the blitz by running the football. B. Shorten the passing game and focus on your bigger targets like tight ends or exploit the blitz via screens. C. Keep dropping your quarterback seven steps into the pocket and see if his ribs explode before he gets concussed. History tells us Andy Reid chooses option C every single time.
Shocker, right? Andy Reid is to blame for another poorly called game? I don’t believe it. This is brand new information. I’m the biggest Reid supporter there is and one of the few left, but Sunday’s game makes it hard for even Reid apologists like myself to quiet the “fire Andy” chants you could hear in Philadelphia Sunday afternoon. It’s one thing to ignore the running game because you can’t run the ball. It’s a whole different story to ignore it while you employ the NFL’s most electric running back.
LeSean McCoy averaged 5.5 yards per rush on Sunday. Vick and the passing game averaged 5.7 yards per attempt. You do the math. Would you rather grind away at a defense five yards at a time and have your quarterback remain upright, or roll the dice 56 times (56!!!) with your quarterback’s (and your team’s) season for a measly .2 yards more? Maybe Reid was punishing McCoy for his uncharacteristic 1st quarter fumble. I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it was dumb. Really dumb. McCoy is the Eagles best player, not Vick. Vick’s attempts should never double McCoy’s touches.
In fact, if Vick is throwing the ball 35 times, McCoy should have 35 touches. If Vick is throwing the ball 41 times, McCoy should have 41 touches. Do that, and it’s likely the Eagles find themselves in position to win more often than not.
1. For the 63rd time in the Andy Reid era, I’m going to point out that the Eagles have no size at the wide receiver position. Sure, Michael Vick was really, really bad on Sunday, but his receivers need to help a little. How many times did you see DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin get moved off a pass route or outworked for positioning? Cleveland’s secondary bullied the Eagles receivers around all day and neither Maclin or Jackson could do anything about it. Employing undersized receivers has plagued this team for the past decade with the exception of one season. Yep, the Terrell Owens year.
Think it’s any coincidence the best receivers in the league (Johnson x2, Fitzgerald, Marshall, Nicks, White) are large, mauling receivers that constantly win battles for the football when it’s in the air. Is it any coincidence that the best receivers in the league that aren’t physical monsters (Welker, Smith) are feisty as he** and would rip someone’s arm off to catch the football or gain an extra yard or two? Jackson and Maclin lack both size and the mean streak that separates good receivers from elite receivers.
2. So if Jackson and Maclin are undersized, why not go to Brent Celek more? Great question. I’ve been asking it for two years. Celek was Kolb’s favorite weapon. Vick apparently forgets Celek is on the field sometimes. Have you ever seen Celek give up on an errant pass or go to the ground without fighting for extra yardage? Celek needs more touches just like McCoy does. He’s the toughest skill player the Eagles have, and aside from Jason Avant, the only receiver capable of working the middle of the field.
3. Some help from the offensive line would be nice. Just a smidge.
4. I loved the defense’s effort. However, I’m going to save my excitement until they play that well against an offense with at least one legitimate threat.
5. Though Vick stunk and the Eagles offense stalled over and over again, I still believe the Eagles will have a good season. In fact, I’m happy Sunday went as it did. The Eagles, and especially the offense, need a good reminder that they’re not God’s gift to football. Just showing up isn’t enough to win.
Bring on the Ravens. (Cut to Michael Vick trembling under his bed.)