What We Can Learn from Michael Vick's Performance on MNF

The reasons for taking a further look at this performance are two fold:

1.  Vick has obvious similarities to Vince.  In particular, his threat to run the ball, and his strength with the deep ball.

2.  We're facing the Washington Redskins next week.

We should be able to not only learn some tendencies about our upcoming opponent, but also learn a few general things about how we can creatively use our mobile quarterback on a game to game basis.

Philly didn't waste any time putting points on the board.  This is the first play of the game from their own 12 yardline.

Formation:  Philly is in "12" personnel with one receiver on both sides of the field.

The Play:  Such a pretty one to watch.  Washington shows 5 guys on the line, but rushes 4.  Washington is in a Cover 2 look. Philly runs fake zone stretch to the right side with a naked bootleg to the backside of the play.  I can't tell what the receiver on the left side of the field does, but if I had to guess I'd say it's a short hitch (edit:  This was on NFL Playbook tonight.  It was actually a deep dig along the left sideline.  The effect is still the same, however, as it isolates the other safety to that side of the field).  Celek runs a deep in about 15 yards down the field.  Behind him, Desean Jackson is running a deep post.  Jackson blazes through the press coverage and is at full speed when he's released to the safety, Landry.  From there, his speed takes over and Vick places a beautiful ball to Jackson downfield for the touchdown.

Interesting Defensive Tendency:  Watch Orakpo against the tight end on the left.    Instead of pursuing the RB, he's committed himself to the quarterback, showing from the first play of the game that they don't want to easily give up the edge against Vick.

What we can learn from this play:  Misdirection is good.  This defense was out of position all over the field.  Vick had three options on the play:  Run, throw to Celek, or throw to Jackson.  Putting your QB on the move puts stress on the defense, yet doesn't make the reads or throws any harder for the quarterback.


Formation:  11 personnel.  This is a package we run quite often, though we almost never spread the RB out into the formation.  Two receivers are split out wide with one in the slot.  The TE is on the same side of the field as the slot receiver.  The RB starts out next to Vick in the shotgun, but splits out right behind Celek pre snap.

The Play:  I like this playcall.  It's something you'll continue to see out of Andy Reid, which is that you can be creative without being complicated.  The two receivers to the left and Celek all run post/slant routes, while McCoy runs a pattern to the flat.  The weakside receiver runs a flag/fade to the back of the endzone.  Reid keeps the reads simple here while still putting a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense.  Washington elects to drop 8 defenders into zone coverage.  With most of the secondary sucked to the back of the endzone, Vick takes his mismatch against a linebacker and exploits it for a touchdown.

Interesting Defensive Tendency:  Washington rushes three down linemen against arguably the most athletic QB in NFL history, and the LE isn't playing 'contain'?  This is either a miscommunication (the RE is playing contain), or a poor playcall.  If the LE is in contain, this probably doesn't go for a TD.

What we can learn from this play:  In the redzone, it's a good idea to clear out the middle of the field.  Short slants, and hitches to the middle of the field limit the opportunities for the quarterback to scramble.  Alternatively, when you choose to not run routes underneath, it give the mobile quarterback options.


Formation:  20 personnel (Two backs, Three receivers).  The set is unconventional, though.  They have the two RBs in the backfield like you'd see in a pro style formation.  However, a third player (WR), is in a three point stance between them.  Pre snap, the receiver goes in motion to the slot.

The Play:  This is such a beautiful, creative play call.  Philly treats just as they would a power running play as seen with the pulling guard from the weakside.  Vick takes the snap and quickly fakes a bootleg.  The left tackle lets the DE get free, and moves to block down field.  By pursuing Vick, the DE is eliminated from the play.  Vick throws a quick shovel pass to the RB who already has blockers down field.  Touchdown.  Bravo, Andy Reid, Bravo!

Interesting Defensive Tendency:  The attention given to Vick.  At this point in the game, Vick has made Washington very aware of his threat with his legs. You can see this in two ways.  1.  The DE's desire to get to Vick with complete disregard to McCoy.  After the ball is snapped, it's clear that the DE's assignment was to contain Vick.  2.  LaRon Landry is now spying Vick.

What we can learn from this play:  A mobile QB doesn't have to run to impact a defense on a play with his legs.  The threat of running Vick to the edge is what made this play work.  But, in order to get those mismatches, you've got to get the QB on the move more often at other times during the game.


Formation:  "11" personnel again.  Interestingly, Philly lines up their slot receiver at the TE position, and the TE is upright behind him.  The running back is on the weak side of the formation next to Vick in the shotgun.  Receivers are split out wide.

The Play:  Washington has 5 guys on the line of scrimmage.  LaRon Landy is down in the box and lined up on the slot receiver.  Seeing 8 guys in the box, the read is simple.  Vick knows he's got a single high safety and Maclin is one on one on the outside.  Maclin runs a go route and Vick lets him make a play.  Touchdown.

Interesting Defensive Tendency:  I'm surprised that Washington would ever have just one single high safety against these blazing receivers. 

What we can learn from this play:  Actually not too much.  We've shown time and time again that we're not afraid to throw the deep ball when teams show a single high safety.  It does show that Hall, despite his excellent play this year, can still be beat deep.


Formation:  "11" personnel.  Slot receiver to the strongside.  RB next to Vick on the weak side.

The Play:  It's a simple draw play, but it's run to perfection.  The playside tackle lets the DE get up field, leaving a HUGE hole in the "B" gap.  Vick hits the hole hard and his receiver blocks just long enough to give him time to get to the edge.  TD.

Interesting Defensive Tendency:  They are down near the goal line, and there's only 6 guys in the box.  And, it doesn't appear that anyone is spying Vick.

What we can learn from this play:  The draw play is your friend when you have a mobile quarterback.  It's something we used to run a lot more often, but hardly run at all anymore.  I presume some of that has to do with wanting to protect Vince.

If you have the opportunity to, watch this game in its entirety.  It's an excellent case study in how a mobile QB should be used in the NFL.  I have no doubt that Fisher and Dinger were taking notes on this one.  I just hope they choose to implement some of the same ideas.

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