Mike Check: Can Vick pick apart the Dallas D?
After two of his worst performances of the season, Michael Vick and his injured ribs bounced back against the Jets, completing 15 of 22 passes for 274 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Vick's 107.0 QB rating was his second-highest of the season, and his 12.46 yards per attempt was his highest mark of 2011.
So what was different about Vick? And how will he perform against the Cowboys? Let's take a look, as always, starting with pass distribution.
I wrote about this yesterday, but the Eagles have been highly efficient on throws to Celek. The only incompletion to Celek against the Jets was on a failed shovel pass where Vick was initially looking for McCoy and then just wanted to get rid of the ball.
Maclin and Jackson didn't put up huge numbers, but did the little things to contribute. Jackson was only targeted twice. Maclin had a 22-yard catch wiped out because of a penalty.
Cooper gave great effort, breaking a tackle and picking up yards after the catch on his 18-yard reception.
Vick spiked the ball twice and threw the ball away twice, if you count the interception at the end of the first half as a throw-away. So, really, his completion percentage was even better than the 15-for-22 numbers indicate.
AGAINST THE BLITZ
Many (including me) were expecting Rex Ryan to send the house at Vick, but that wasn't the case. The Jets sent extra pressure on just nine of 24 dropbacks, or 37.5 percent of the time. A reminder, that for our purposes, a blitz is defined as sending five or more pass rushers at the quarterback.
Vick was 5-for-8 for 132 yards against the blitz, and he ran once. But maybe more impressively, Vick was 10-for-12 for 142 yards when the Jets didn't blitz last week, and he ran three times.
In other words, when the Jets didn't send extra pressure, he had plenty of time (the offensive line was outstanding), found his receivers, made good throws and allowed guys to make plays after the catch.
Here's the full breakdown:
Even when the Jets did blitz, they usually only sent one extra defender. Ryan blitzed six or more just once on Sunday.
Looking back at the first matchup with the Cowboys, Rob Ryan blitzed Vick on 18 of 36 dropbacks, or 50 percent of the time. On eight of those occasions, he sent six or more rushers, which really gave Vick trouble. Vick was 1-for-4 for 8 yards and was sacked four times against six or more rushers.
When Rob Ryan didn't blitz, Vick picked the Cowboys apart, completing 13 of 16 passes for 176 yards. Like the Jets, the Cowboys were not able to pressure or disrupt Vick without sending extra pressure.
SUCCESS BY DISTANCE
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.
How about those Deep throws? On passes that traveled between 16 and 25 yards from the line of scrimmage, Vick was 6-for-6 for 194 yards. Three of those went to Celek, two to Maclin and one to Jackson.
The Eagles didn't get much going with McCoy and the screen game.
In the first matchup with Dallas, 25 of Vick's 28 attempts were within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage (in the Short or Mid range). He was 3-for-3 on Deep passes and didn't attempt a Bomb pass.
Vick was outstanding against the Jets, a team that has built its reputation on defense and disrupting opposing quarterbacks. He made good decisions, was accurate and was effective when he ran.
In the first game against Dallas, Vick was nearly flawless, completing 21 of 28 passes for 279 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. It was only one of two games this season where he was not picked off.
In that game, Vick relied on the intermediate passing game. He was 7-for-9 for 94 yards on throws to Celek and 5-for-5 for 74 yards on throws to Avant.
Perhaps Rob Ryan will choose a more aggressive attack in this one after seeing his brother call off the blitz last week. If that happens, Vick will have to pick his spots to take shots deep and get rid of the ball quickly.
When looking at the Eagles' offense, there are reasons for optimism: All 11 starters are healthy, and this unit is coming off one of its best performances.
But it's been an up-and-down year. On Saturday, Vick and the Eagles will try to win three in a row for the first time all season.