After a week 7 bye in which they were forced to quickly pick up the pieces left from a disastrous fourth quarter loss to the Detroit Lions, the Philadelphia Eagles face a huge challenge against the league's consensus top team, the Atlanta Falcons. The already intense pressure on Michael Vick and the offense to keep up with explosive Falcons has been turned up even further as there are sure to be some kinks new defense coordinator Todd Bowles will need to work out calling the team's defense for the first time. Vick's play has been suspect at times this year and many do not consider him even a second tier quarterback in a league that is producing so many young effective QBs. But the whole story can never be told without looking at the numbers.
Over the first six games of the season, Michael Vick has average 272 yards per game and if he stays healthy for the whole season is on pace to throw for a career high of 4352 yards. This is much more than his last two years where he averaged 254 ypg in 13 games and 251 ypg in 12 games in 2011 and 2010 respectively. But these numbers are deceiving as Vick has had six more attempts per game this year and is only averaging 7.1 yards per throw, his lowest since donning an Eagles uniform. His completion percentage is also the lowest it has been as an Eagles starter at 58.9%. So although Vick is throwing for more yards than ever, they are coming at a much bigger price to the team. Much of this difficulty has be a result of what many have deemed "hero ball" in which Vick will try to make plays that are not there instead of playing it safe and throwing the ball away. This is no more evident then when it comes to his interception number this year. Vick has thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns with already eight picks in six games. Compare this to his breakout year for the Eagles in 2010 when he threw 21 touchdowns to only six interceptions in his 12 games as a starter. Many of these interceptions have come on plays where he is under pressure and will throw the ball up for grabs instead of safely out bounds. Until Vick learns that a neutral play is sometimes better than going for a big play with a low chance for success, he will continue to give the ball away unnecessarily.
But Michael Vick is not just famous for his arm but also for his feet as he is a constant threat to pull the ball down and take off running on a defense. Vick does not run as much as he did in his time with the Falcons where he had over 100 rushing attempts in all of his healthy seasons from 2002-2006. Last year with the Eagles Vick had 76 rushing attempts for 589 yards in 13 games. He has been a little more active in the run game this year as he has attempted 41 rushes for a total of 205 through six games. But again these number are deceiving as he is averaging his lowest yards per attempt this year at 5. That is down from 7.8 last year and 6.8 in 2010. His yards per game has also decreased by about 10 per game each season since 2010 as he is averaging a career low of 34.2. Also coinciding with these stats is that this year Vick only picks up a first down on 26.8% of his runs compared to 37.4% on average over the past two seasons. These rushing numbers would be good for the average league QB but again they are coming at a big price. Vick has already fumbled the ball 9 times with some coming down in the redzone. That is only one less fumble than he had all of last season and two less than all of 2010. Many of these fumbles have come from hits in the pocket but it is still staggering to see how easily Vick has given the ball away this season.
Overall this year Michael Vick's play has not been close to living up to the expectations placed on his shoulders. The numbers show he is having one of the worst years of his career and for us watching he does not pass the eye test for a top level quarterback. Vick will need to really pull his game together fast and show some quick improvement as the voices calling for Nick Foles get louder and louder each week. He will have big test on Sunday to try to prove he is still the number one guy in Philadelphia.
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