Vick not attaining heights he did last year

Posted: November 10, 2011

When Andy Reid benched Kevin Kolb last year and then traded him this offseason, he was making bold moves in favor of Michael Vick, who looked like a superstar capable of beating anyone.

So far, though, Vick has not approached the MVP level he played at for most of last year.

Quarterbacks such as Matt Hasselbeck and Tony Romo have more touchdowns than Vick's 11. Vick's 85.8 quarterback rating falls below the 87.1 posted by rookie Cam Newton. Vick's nine interceptions, many batted by his receivers, rank him tied for 24th in the NFL.

Vick stands in the middle of the pack or worse in nearly every major passing statistic, and in the fourth quarter, when his team has been desperate for plays, Vick has just one touchdown pass.

Kolb, it should be noted, has played far worse with the Cardinals, who come to Philadelphia at 2-6 this week, and Vick is not the main reason the Eagles are 3-5. Late-game defense and mistakes by other offensive players have been worse. But while elite quarterbacks can often mask flaws, Vick has been another Eagle whose play has been decent but ultimately not good enough to win.

Take the end of the Bears game. Facing a key fourth down, Vick hit a wide-open Jeremy Maclin, but the throw was high and the receiver had to stretch and fell short of the first down. It was a completion, but not quite sharp enough.

"Mike has done a good job putting us in position," said wide receiver Jason Avant. "Teams have just made up in their minds they're not going to let Mike Vick beat them alone, so we've got to go out and contribute with him."

Last year, Vick was getting his first starts since joining the Eagles and reshaping his game. He seemed to take the league by surprise. Now, defenses have more than a year of tape and experience facing him. Vick stumbled to the finish last year and has not been a dominant force this season.

He remains capable of mesmerizing runs and rocket throws, but big plays have been missing.

"I don't think defenses are playing me differently. Things are pretty much the same," Vick said. "We've got more turnovers this year than we did last year, and that's been the key."

Vick's nine interceptions already top the six he threw in 12 starts last season. He has lost three fumbles, the same number as all of last year.

But the Eagles rank first in rushing, which means less rests on Vick's arm, said running back LeSean McCoy.

"He's not really forced to be the superhero and really save the day like he was last year," McCoy said.

Despite the dip in eye-popping moments, Vick is completing 62 percent of his passes and has been more consistent than a year ago, said Greg Cosell, who has reviewed every Vick snap as executive producer of NFL Matchup on ESPN.

"I would actually argue that overall he's the more consistent, stable player than he was last year," Cosell said. "Their record's not 3-5 because of Mike Vick."

The Eagles were more explosive a year ago, but when the big plays got bottled up, so did the offense. This year, Cosell said, the Eagles have used a more "sustainable" offense and have beat the blitzes that flustered Vick last year by using quicker drops, which leads to shorter, more accurate throws.

Vick has moved the Eagles. They rank third in the NFL in yardage and ninth in points and passing yards. Vick has chipped in 456 rushing yards.

But he has no touchdowns on the ground, compared with nine last year.

That's another illustration of how Vick has been good this year, but not a star.


Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214, jtamari@phillynews.com, or @JonathanTamari on Twitter.

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