Challenge To The Redskins: Defending Michael Vick

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Quarterback Michael Vick  of the Philadelphia Eagles looks toward fans chanting his name before taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on September 26, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

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Vick Week officially began at 10:15 AM, ET, Monday, September 27, when Wall Street Journal blog, The Daily Fix, published Prepare For a Week of Vick vs. McNabb. Vick vs. McNabb in The Journal? Really?

FOX promoted the upcoming Washington Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles game unremittingly during the St. Louis beat-down. We expected that. When The Wall Street Journal blogs about Vick vs. McNabb, we’ve crossed the threshold of cultural significance. Yes siree.

It helps salve the wounds of the loss to the St. Louis Rams for fans already pronouncing the Dannyhan era a bust. You know who you are and shame on you. It’s way too early to draw any conclusion about the season or anyone on the team.

We wonder, however, how can a defense that couldn’t pressure rookie Sam Bradford suppress the elusive Michael Vick?

When the Redskins Hog Heaven writers predicted the season early this month, I called the Eagles game a win. Football is played emotionally. The emotion of Donovan McNabb’s return to Philly to face the man who replaced him, Kevin Kolb, would sweep the Redskins to an upset win. To my chagrin, and FOX’s delight, Kevin Kolb became Michael Vick. Oops! The Eagles are a lot harder to beat now.

Scouting Michael Vick

That’s drama for the fan and hype for FOX. Coaches and players are expected to get it done. They get scouting reports to figure it out. The closest we can come is a pair of reports on Football Outsiders.

Mike Tanier charted Vick’s every pass in Sunday’s game against the Jaguars (Walkthrough: Vick’s Every Move). Vick threw three touchdown passes, and ran for another. His QB rating for the season is 110.2. That’s compared to his career rating of 77.5.

That’s lights out football! Yet, here’s how Tanier closed his article:

Listening to the commentary, there was a lot of talk about a new Vick, one who doesn’t make bad decisions or throw off-target passes. I didn’t see that Vick, and you won’t find that Vick in the summary I just provided. This was a strong game overall, but there were a lot of danger signs — sacks, bad throws, bad plays by the defense that the Eagles got away with — that tell me that the old Vick is still hanging around, waiting to show himself against a good NFL defense.” (Emphasis mine)

That begs the question, are the Redskins a good defense at this point?

RHH’s Greg Trippiedi’s preseason call on the defense:

“We’re looking at a defense that will probably rate in the same range that it did in the last two years.  We’ll play smarter than last year’s defense, and we’ll be more opportunistic than last year’s defense, but there isn’t quite the same level of talent as on last year’s defense. Cornelius Griffin was oft injured, but this team will miss his presence on the field.  Albert Haynesworth is unlikely to play at the level he did last year, and that’s even assuming he plays as much as he did last year.

Greg pointed to the secondary as the strength of the defense, harkening back to the Joe Gibbs coverage sacks idea. There are unique demands for defending Vick.

There are quarterbacks and there’s Michael Vick

With classic quarterbacks, the defense tries to collapse the interior of the offensive line to prevent him from stepping into the pocket. With Vick, defenses attack from the ends, not to get sacks so much as to contain. You don’t force the bad QB Vick to run. That’s how he beats you. You force him to throw because that’s his perceived weakness.

On paper, that plays into Trippiedi’s profile of Washington’s defense. Games aren’t played on paper. They are played on television.

Is the new Vick real, or hype?

The good Vick is perceived to have better quarterback skills as shown by his high QB rating. Football Outsiders isn’t buying that yet.

“Michael Vick has now played ten quarters of football, and eight of them have come against the pass defenses that ranked 31st (Jacksonville) and 32nd (Detroit) in DVOA a year ago. Jacksonville remained 31st through the first two weeks of the season, and while Detroit has looked improved, there’s been more than a few favorable turnover bounces that have gone their way through three weeks.

FO doesn’t track opponent strength in individual quarterback DYAR until the fourth game (this weekend). By their measure, Vick’s performance has been slightly above average. Against better defenses, they speculate that his performance will fall to average to slightly below. (Week 3 Quick Reads, Sep 28, 2010)

Have no fear of Michael Vick. This just in, losing to the Rams means we can sneak up on the Eagles, if the defense is good enough.

 

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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