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Mike Check: Why Vick has struggled

Michael Vick completed just 15 of 30 passes for 208 yards, a touchdown and an interception Sunday against the Dolphins, returning from a rib injury that had sidelined him for three games.

In his last three starts, Vick has completed just 51 percent of his passes, averaged 5.38 yards per attempt, thrown one touchdown and been intercepted four times.

Turnovers have been an issue all season, but other aspects of Vick's game are now cause for concern. Is he regressing? Or is he just playing hurt?

I'll take a look at those questions and more. As always, let's start with pass distribution against Miami.

Vick had four balls batted down at the line of scrimmage. I could only tell on one of them exactly who he was targeting, plus he threw one ball away. That's why there are only 26 targets, even though he attempted 30 passes.

Jackson had a good game with four catches for 59 yards, including the 34-yard touchdown.

McCoy had the nice 26-yard catch and run in the first half.

Celek probably should have gotten the ball more. The Eagles have had a lot of success going his way in recent weeks.

Maclin returned to action, but only played 24 snaps. He had a shot at one pass over the middle, but I didn't count it as a drop. It looked like he almost ran into Celek on the play.

And Cooper's 29-yard grab came on a play where Vick escaped pressure and improvised.


The Dolphins blitzed Vick quite a bit - 19 of 36 dropbacks - and were very successful.

Vick was just 3-for-13 (23.1 percent) for 23 yards (1.77 YPA) against the blitz. He fared much better when the Dolphins only rushed three or four, completing 12 of 17 passes for 185 yards.

Here's the full breakdown:

The Dolphins were extremely effective when they rushed five. Vick was only 1-for-7 in those situations, and all four sacks came on five-men blitzes. Vick took off to run twice - both against five-men blitzes. Of the 13 times Miami sent five rushers, Vick failed to even attempt a pass on six of them.

As you can see, he didn't fare much better against the six- and seven-man blitzes either, completing 2 of 6 passes for 6 yards in those situations. I wrote about this earlier in the week, but the struggles weren't all on Vick. The offensive line had all kinds of problems in pass protection (and run blocking).

Earlier in the season, Vick had shown progress against the blitz, making quick decisions, although not hitting on a lot of big plays. Against the Dolphins' blitz, though, he really struggled.


Here's a chart of Vick's throws by distance. I used the same ranges that Football Outsiders uses so we'd have a point of reference. Short is 5 yards or less. Mid is 6 to 15 yards. Deep is 16 to 25 yards. And Bomb is more than 25 yards. These are measured from the line of scrimmage to the point where the ball is touched, hits the ground or goes out of bounds.

The two Bomb completions were to Cooper and Jackson.

Really, there's not a lot to analyze in this part. The Eagles took their shots deep with varying degrees of success. Given the issues in protection, they were wise to rely on the short and intermediate passing game at times.


In 22 starts with the Eagles, Vick has completed 50 percent of his passes or fewer three times. But two of those times have been in his last two starts against the Dolphins and Cardinals (the other was in this year's opener against the Rams).

And it's not a case of Vick hitting on big plays and attempting lower-percentage passes. He's averaging just 7.3 yards per attempt, which ranks 13th in the NFL.

Turnovers have been an issue, but since Vick suffered the rib injury against Arizona, he's been a different quarterback. Before the Cardinals game, he was completing 62 percent of his passes and averaging 7.76 YPA. In the past two games, Vick is completing 48.4 percent of his passes and averaging 5.25 YPA.

Vick wasn't the only problem last week. The offensive line had probably its worst showing of the year, and the team couldn't run the ball at all.

But this much is clear: It's not enough for Vick to just be on the field. Along with avoiding turnovers, the Eagles need him to be healthy when he plays. Because as we've seen the past two weeks, an injured Vick often times means an ineffective Vick.

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