Eagles coach Andy Reid deflects criticism of Michael Vick

Eagles QB Michael Vick gets a throw swatted by Browns defensive end Jabaal Sheard.
Eagles QB Michael Vick gets a throw swatted by Browns defensive end Jabaal Sheard. (RON CORTES / Staff)
Posted: September 11, 2012

On the day after Michael Vick's four-interception game, Eagles coach Andy Reid explained why LeSean McCoy wasn't more involved in the offense, discussed the perils of turning the ball over, and detailed how interceptions are not entirely the fault of the quarterback.

That was last October.

On Monday, hours after another four-interception performance by Vick, guess what topics Reid covered? Even a kinder, gentler Reid could not spin what occurred the day before in the Eagles' 17-16 win over the Cleveland Browns. His explanations mirrored what he said following a loss last season to the Buffalo Bills, the only other time in Vick's career that the quarterback threw four interceptions.

"You just can't have those, and I would say that we didn't play as disciplined offensively as we needed to all the way around," Reid said Monday. "I know Michael took the blame yesterday. It's not a one-man show. That's not what it is. Everybody had a piece of this pie, starting with me and the coaches."

Reid tried to keep the blame from falling only on Vick. He referenced play-calling, protection, and route running. But there was one line of Reid's, interspersed among the others, that seemed to rise above all else: "It comes back to decision-making."

And decision-making should be central in the evaluation of Vick's shortcomings on an afternoon in which he also threw for 317 yards and two touchdowns. It was Vick who made the decisions to throw the ball across his body; it was Vick who tried to weave a pass through triple coverage. Those were decisions that the quarterback made.

The play that is called provides direction. The blocking provides time. The receiver on the route provides a target. But even if any of those collapse, it is still the quarterback passing the ball. Reid, though, kept referring to the entire unit.

"I don't think it's overthinking," Reid said. "There were breakdowns, whether it was him, whether it was the O-line, whether it was receivers, running backs not checking through quick enough and getting to their spots, the calls. We've all got to look at that and make sure that we get that right."

This was similar to what Reid said after the Bills game last season, when he also defended Vick and said, "There are a lot of things that go into those."

Another parallel between Sunday's game and the Bills game was McCoy's success despite limited carries. Against the Bills, McCoy had 11 carries for 80 yards, 18 percent of the offensive plays. McCoy rushed 20 times for 110 yards on Sunday and carried the ball on 23 percent of the plays.

Last year Reid said, "You got to mix and match." This year, Reid said the Eagles "started off with a good mix" and "tried to maintain that mix throughout."

But the pass/run distribution has been a question Reid has faced since he arrived in Philadelphia, and he has achieved considerable success with a pass-heavy offense. Most of that success came with Donovan McNabb as the quarterback. But even when McNabb struggled, he never exhibited a sloppiness with the football the way Vick did on Sunday. McNabb threw three interceptions in three games in an Eagles uniform - but never four.

During an interview on the NFL Network on Monday, McNabb said the Eagles should have run the ball more but said he didn't believe Vick's performance was a cause for concern. McNabb was curious about how the Eagles and Vick would respond this week against the Baltimore Ravens defense, and specifically about whether the running game will have a larger role.

"You're coming off a four-interception game, now what are you going to expect? Are you going to come back and think you're going to throw your way out of a slump, or just kind of get into a rhythm?" McNabb said. "I think it's important that Marty Mornhinweg and Andy Reid do a great job of getting his confidence by doing a three-step to five-step game to get him back on course."

One week after the Bills debacle last season, Vick threw 31 times and had only one interception in a 20-13 win over the Redskins, while McCoy had 28 carries. The coaching staff called short, timing routes for Vick to develop a flow. It's too soon to say whether that's the pattern the Eagles will follow on Sunday. What's alarming is that they have a basis of comparison for responding to a four-interception game.

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Reid: Interceptions everyone's fault. D2.

Ravens at Eagles

Sunday at 1 p.m. (CBS3)

Line: Eagles by 3

Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow @ZBerm on Twitter.


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