Vick threw 11 interceptions the first nine games of the season, only three in the final four, after he returned from his rib problem. He also threw seven of his 18 touchdown passes in those last four games, in which he amassed 1,110 of his 3,303 2011 passing yards.
Pederson and Vick have spent time in the film room and on the field this offseason. They’ll spend more starting Tuesday morning, when the Eagles’ first full-team OTA begins. Everybody around the team knows Vick’s turnovers were a huge factor in missing the playoffs last year, maybe the determining factor. The Birds seem to have made some defensive fixes, but the most significant offensive fix has to take place inside Vick. And this offseason, while the quarterback has been saying many of the right things, he often says them, then adds something about how turnovers are going to happen, or you have to take chances sometimes. This has not been especially comforting.
But Pederson is the guy who spends the most time with Vick, and Pederson said Vick gets it.
Asked to describe what it’s like watching film with Vick of the QB’s mistakes, Pederson said: “Some of it’s disappointment. Some of it’s like ‘what was I thinking?’ … For the most part, it’s ‘why?’ … That’s the thing that we missed a year ago, in that offseason.”
Like most of us, Pederson has noticed that Vick tends to find trouble when nothing is working and the player who was drafted first overall in 2001 decides he has to make something happen on his own.
“Stay within the play. Stay within yourself. Know your own strengths and limitations … you let this system work … he gets caught sometimes trying to do too much,” Pederson said. “That’s where he gets in trouble. We eliminate those and keep him within our system and positive things are going to happen.”
The other thing that happened to Vick last year was that defenses, given lots of film to watch of him running the Eagles’ offense, found it easier to disrupt the 6-foot passer’s lanes than to sack him. Pederson said Vick got 19 balls batted at the line, a big number.
“One of [the typical countermeasures Vick might employ] is a pump-fake. One of them is getting the ball out of your hand, we talk about on time and in rhythm throws … Getting your presnap read and getting your first, second and third step progression once the ball is snapped,” Pederson said.
“We started seeing teams that at times just would not rush Michael Vick. They were standing at the line of scrimmage. They were not going to let him escape the pocket, and they were going to stand and take a 6-5, 6-6 defensive end and bat balls down … Nineteen tipped balls is way too many. We need to cut that number [at least] in half. Obviously, that comes with finding throwing lanes … slide, find a lane, vision.”
Vick turns 32 next month. How many bad habits is he going to change, that he won’t eventually slide back into, at this point? Pederson talked about how Vick’s 2010 picks came near the end of the season, when he had less time to reflect, when the lessons of that offseason had faded. So, even with good work now, will he be on message as 2012 winds toward the playoffs?
“It comes down to just one week at a time,” said Pederson, who seemed to be suggesting he and the coaching staff had learned more about the need to work on fundamentals, even in-season. “You do it piece by piece by piece … You build off that, and you go to the next week.”
Earlier, asked a related question, Pederson said: “The old adage, can you teach an old dog new tricks? — I think you can. Mike’s a sponge. He really soaks up everything you’re teaching him. He wants to learn, wants to get better.” n
Contact Les Bowen at email@example.com read the Daily News Eagles blog, Eagletarian, atEagletarian.com; follow him on Twitter @LesBowen.