Why Michael Vick Needs a Pitch Count for the Eagles to Succeed
Andy Reid, Michael Vick and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have been driving a message home: Vick is now a pocket passer.
Gone are head-first dives and the days of the reckless scrambler fans remember from Atlanta. His game has taken on a new level of comprehension.
After the Browns game, when Michael Vick threw four interceptions while passing an absurdly high 56 times, I began to wonder about how this transition could affect the Eagles this season. Was Vick better suited for his old style of play, the style that helped him become runner-up for MVP?
Here’s what I learned from the numbers, which involve all games in which Vick has started for the Eagles up to and including last week against the Giants:
First, and most intriguing to me, is that there is no consistent pattern between Vick’s impact on the running game and the Eagles getting a W.
Whether Vick runs for 80 yards in a game or five, two carries or 12, the Eagles aren’t much more likely to win or lose the game. For example, when Vick has rushed for 75 yards or more, the Eagles are 3-4. Never would have guessed that one.
However, what did stick out about the running game, and I’m not quite sure what to make of this exactly, is that the Eagles are 9-2 whenever Vick scores a rushing touchdown.
The last thing that I noticed, and I do believe that this is a particularly telling statistic, is that the Eagles are 15-3 whenever Vick throws 35 or fewer passes a game. When he throws over that number, the Eagles are 3-7.
I feel the importance of those numbers can’t be ignored.
The gripe has always been for a more balanced offense in Philadelphia, which is probably the best bet for this team and for Vick’s passing ability. This is not to say that Vick has not improved as a passer. What I’m saying is you may buy a new engine for a car, but that doesn’t mean you should drag race it every night.
The best example I can give in terms of the Eagles overusing Vick comes from the San Francisco game.
You know, the one where the Eagles were leading 20-3 at halftime and lost 23-24. Vick threw 46 passes in that game. The number of times LeSean McCoy ran the ball? Nine.
Considering that the Eagles had the lead for most of the game against an offense that isn’t known for moving the ball quickly, running seems like a no-brainer. Instead they allowed the clock to stop on too many occasions and allowed San Francisco back into the game.
Therefore, if the Eagles really want to win it all, they need to keep the same kind of balance that they demonstrated against the Ravens and Giants, two very legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
In the Ravens game, Vick passed 32 times and McCoy ran the ball 25 times in a 24-23 victory. Against the Giants? Vick threw 30 passes while McCoy rushed 23 times in a 19-17 win.
Simply put, I am suggesting that the Eagles place Vick on a pitch count, barring extreme circumstances.
While this has become a passing league, Vick is not the elite-level passer that Andy Reid desires. Vick is a playmaker. That’s very different. By limiting Vick, their best player (LeSean McCoy) is guaranteed more touches. That provides a better opportunity for the deep strike off of play actionand it limits Vick’s potential to be mauled in the pocket.
Overall, if Vick can remain fresh he can return to his MVP form from 2010 or at the very least, take the Eagles back to the Super Bowl—just don’t have him pass too much.