Vick, Eagles work on reducing turnovers

Eagles QB Michael Vick takes a swing during the Ron Jaworski Celebrity Golf Classic at the Atlantic City Country Club.
Eagles QB Michael Vick takes a swing during the Ron Jaworski Celebrity Golf Classic at the Atlantic City Country Club. (BEN FOGLETTO / Associated Press)
Posted: May 23, 2012

There are two sides to Michael Vick's athleticism.

At times, his breathtaking talent conjures gains from thin air when the defense is closing in. But last season, Vick's unfailing belief in his own ability too often led to risky plays and game-changing turnovers.

"He gets caught sometimes doing too much, trying to do too much, and that's where he gets in trouble," Eagles quarterbacks coach Doug Pederson said Monday in advance of full-team practices that begin Tuesday. "We eliminate those and keep him within our system, and positive things are going to happen."

The Eagles' 38 turnovers were the second most in the NFL, and coaches have cited them as the team's No. 1 problem in a disappointing 2011. Vick had 18 giveaways, including 14 interceptions, a career high, after giving up the ball just nine times in 2010.

Cutting down on those big mistakes might be the biggest key to the Eagles drive to return to the playoffs this season.

"I've had a chance to sit down with Mike, one-on-one, in the room, by ourselves, watch the good, watch the bad, and for me not only to teach off of that but just to watch his expression, see how he reacts to the negative," Pederson said. "He's learned from that. I think it makes him a better quarterback going forward, obviously. If we cut those two areas down, be more efficient in the red zone, don't turn the ball over as much . . . your chances of success obviously go up."

Vick has often been defiant about his turnovers, counting them as a consequence of playing aggressively, but Pederson described a quarterback ready to learn from his errors.

"Some if it was, 'What was I thinking?' " Pederson said, describing Vick's reaction to last year's game tapes. Some turnovers were out of his hands. A few interceptions came from wild tips. But "for the most part it's just 'Why? . . . Why did I do that?' And that's the kind of thing that we missed a year ago in that offseason."

Not all of the problems came from Vick's running. At times he lost sight of defenders after the snap or simply missed reads, Pederson said.

The biggest difference in Vick's Pro Bowl season in 2010 compared with his mistake-prone 2011 was having a full offseason to work with coaches, according to Pederson. The NFL lockout cut into preparation time last year.

"We had time [in 2010] to spend with Michael Vick outside on the practice field, against the net, worked his footwork, worked his fundamentals, got him in the classroom, and that was the biggest difference," Pederson said.

The Eagles don't want Vick to stop running, but they want him to be careful about his decisions when he does.

"Bottom line is he's faster than everybody else, pretty much, except the secondary," Pederson said. "It's tough because you want him to stay there, but yet again he gets so many positive yards for us that we're not going to take that away from him."

He later added, "Can we channel it in areas and ways that he doesn't have to do that all the time? . . . You can, and you can teach that. And it also comes with understanding of our system and understanding progression and as he grows in our offense."

Some teams worked so hard to contain Vick as a runner that it led to 19 tipped passes, a number Pederson called "way too many." He hopes to cut that in half this year, which would help eliminate some fluky interceptions.

"We started seeing teams that at times just would not rush. . . . They were not going to let him escape the pocket, and they were going to stand and take a 6-foot-5, 6-6 defensive end and try to bat balls down," Pederson said.

Vick is listed at 6-0, so throwing between a thicket of arms requires him to "slide in the pocket, find a lane and deliver the ball on time and in rhythm," Pederson said.

Vick has long faced questions about his turnovers. The Eagles playoff hopes may hinge on him finally finding the right answers.


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

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