Eagles' Vick complains about referees

Posted: September 25, 2011

Michael Vick believes that rules are being defied and he is getting unjustly abused.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Poetic injustice aside, Vick's complaints about NFL officials allowing him to be hit more, and hit later, than other quarterbacks can probably only lead to more woe for him and the Eagles. The men in the striped shirts don't like being accused of playing favorites.

"The refs have to do their job and I'm not blaming the referees by any stretch, so let's not get it twisted here," Vick said. "I'm just saying I think everybody on the field should do their job."

Not sure how it could be twisted any other way. Vick was certainly blaming the officials for the pounding he has taken over the first three weeks. Sunday, for the second week in a row, he had to leave the game with an injury. Last week in Atlanta, it was a concussion. This time, it was a broken right hand.

Vick said "absolutely" when asked if he feels he doesn't get the calls that other elite QBs get.

"I mean, you all see it," Vick said. "There's no reason for me to go into a big dissertation about why I'm not getting the calls. The refs, they have to do their job as well. I even mentioned it in training camp to the refs when we had our little meeting, just for precaution. But hey, I don't know."

Vick broke his hand on a third-quarter pass to Jeremy Maclin. He took the snap and slid over to his right to set up. Giants defensive tackle Chris Canty, a 317-pound behemoth, raced in virtually unblocked as Vick waited for Maclin to get open. Canty hit Vick just after he released the ball.

"I was trying to protect myself," Vick said. "Still, I didn't get a flag and that's pretty much been the story for the last three weeks. I mean, obviously at some point, something catastrophic is going to happen. I broke my hand."

Repeated viewings of the replay show it was a bang-bang play. Canty would have had an awfully tough time stopping himself by the time Vick released the ball. If anything, it looks like he did try to pull up.

There are several issues here. With his ability to break tackles and run, Vick almost forces defensive players to follow through if the play is close. A 15-yard penalty isn't as bad as a 30-yard run. And because Vick is capable of escaping from situations that other quarterbacks could not, referees are hesitant to blow a play dead until they have to. The Eagles would complain about quick whistles taking potential big plays away, too.

"If you look at all the replays," Vick said, "I'm on the ground every time and it's unfortunate for myself and it's unfortunate for my team. . . . Every time I throw the ball, I'm on the ground, getting hit in the head and I don't know why."

Because the Eagles offensive line isn't particularly good right now.

Because Vick holds on to the ball longer than many quarterbacks - a problem when he gets hit but a plus when he improvises a big play.

Because Andy Reid's offense is predicated on throwing the ball often and on getting more players into pass routes at the expense of more blockers.

Replace Vick's name with that of Donovan McNabb and we could be having this same conversation in 2003, 2006 or 2009.

Consider another big hit Vick took. Starting with the last play of the first quarter, the Eagles ran the ball a stunning eight consecutive times. The eighth run got them a first down at the Giants 15-yard line. Next play, the Eagles lined up with Vick in the shotgun and an otherwise empty backfield. They removed the threat of the run, allowing the Giants to focus entirely on pressuring Vick.

He completed a pass to Jason Avant, but 300-pound Rocky Bernard landed on Vick. Maybe a play fake would have slowed Bernard and allowed Vick another second or two. Maybe it saves his body one more collision. Multiply that by the number of times Vick throws under pressure or gets tackled while running and it's no wonder he feels beat up.

It is only Week 3.

Repeating a thought from last week, there are two intertwined issues with Vick. Any one hit could cause him to miss games, as he is likely to do with this broken hand. Meanwhile, the cumulative effect of all the hits could wear him down, as it did last season.

The Eagles defense is a mess. The offensive line is not adequate. The big-money free agents are not living up to their reps. Reid and his staff appear overmatched.

Those are problems the Eagles can address, and they're much higher on the list than the officials.

Contact Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844, psheridan@phillynews.com, or @Sheridanscribe on Twitter. Read his blog, "Philabuster," at http://go.philly.com/philabuster. Read his columns at www.philly.com/philsheridan


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