December 03, 2010
The first offensive play of Thursday night's game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans is a microcosm of everything that's good about Michael Vick(notes) 2.0; and everything that could go wrong with it too.
Vick takes the opening snap and drops back like a regular pocket passer, but his teasing hops hold the defenders in the middle of the field for a split-second, which enables the QB to fire a 30-yard bullet to DeSean Jackson(notes). That's the good. What happens to Vick after he throws the ball is the bad:
Vick got drilled after throwing the ball and found himself watching the completion from the ground. It was a familiar place for him during the evening. Not that it mattered much; he was 22-33 for 302 yards with two touchdown passes for the game and ran the ball for 48 yards and one touchdown. The frequency of those hits has to be concerning though.
Peter King writes that before Thursday, Vick had been exposed to 109 hits over his previous two games. As the rest of the video clip shows, he was exposed to, and received, a whole lot more from the Texans. (The big hits begin at the 1:46 mark.)
The thing that's made Vick so good this season -- thinking pass before run -- is also the thing that makes him more injury prone than ever. In Atlanta, he didn't take as many shots because he was already moving by the time a blitzing linebacker broke free from the offensive line. Now, Vick is standing in the pocket, buying time and releasing the ball a split-second before getting popped.
He shouldn't change this. The threat of his speed is opening up the field for his arm and that's what makes him so dangerous. It comes with a risk, though. Michael Vick is taking a pounding from defenders and, at some point, he's not going to be able to shake off one of the hits he takes.
Vick knows this. "I'm used to taking hits. It's not that bad," he said after the game. "If I take one and I lay down, then I took a good one. But I'm a pretty tough guy. I bounce back when I can. There's no science to getting hit, or protecting yourself."
And that's the thing. As tough as Vick is, those hits will catch up to him. That quote makes it seem like he's resigned to it.
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