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Offensive line, Vick out of sync in Miami

Whether Michael Vick's increasing number of batted passes is his fault or that of his blockers, it is an issue nonetheless.

Michael Vick and the Eagles offense gained a season-low 239 total yards against Miami. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)
Michael Vick and the Eagles offense gained a season-low 239 total yards against Miami. (David Maialetti/Staff Photographer)Read more

Whether Michael Vick's increasing number of batted passes is his fault or that of his blockers, it is an issue nonetheless.

On Sunday, Dolphins defenders deflected at least four passes by the Eagles quarterback, who was playing in his first game in nearly a month. The incomplete throws didn't affect the outcome of the game - thanks, in part, to the Eagles defense - but Vick and the offense almost never got in rhythm.

And those batted passes were just part of Vick's harassed day in Miami, which was sometimes a result of his own volition, sometimes because of his leaky offensive line.

"I would tell you [the blame] was spread around a little bit," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Monday, a day after the Eagles' 26-10 win at the Dolphins. Vick "could have done a better job moving on a couple of them, and then there was penetration on a couple of the other ones."

If the Eagles are to have any shot of making the playoffs - and that is mostly out of their hands - they will likely need Vick and the line to perform much better than they did down in Miami.

Vick, who missed the previous three games with broken ribs, was obviously not 100 percent. He said he played through pain. Reid said Monday that Vick was "sore, but he's OK." Despite what looked like a lower trajectory on his throws, Reid said that Vick's motion was not hindered by his injury.

Miami's defense is stout, but the New York Jets - Sunday's opponent - have one of the more complete defensive units in the NFL. While the Eagles are still mathematically alive for a postseason berth, the Jets game may have no meaning - at least in terms of winning the NFC East - by the time the teams kick off at 4:15 p.m.

The Eagles (5-8) - two games behind Dallas (7-6) and the New York Giants (7-6) - know their objective: They have to win out. But if the Cowboys beat Tampa Bay on Saturday and the Giants beat Washington in an early Sunday game, the Eagles can't win the division.

That's because the Cowboys and Giants meet again - New York won a thriller, 37-34, Sunday night - and two wins this weekend would mean at least one team would finish with at least nine wins, more than the Eagles could reach.

The wild card is still technically not impossible. But every team with a chance at the berths would have to lose each of its remaining games.

Reid had no time for glass-half-empty thinking on Monday, even though the hole the Eagles have dug for themselves is deep and even though Sunday's win wasn't especially crisp. When he thought the questioning during his day-after news conference focused too much on what went wrong in the game, Reid said, "This feels like we lost it here."

Indeed, Sunday's much-needed win was a victory for a defense that delivered its finest outing of the season. But Vick and the offense struggled, gaining a season-low 239 total yards against Miami. In the second half, they managed just 57 yards.

Vick threw for 208 yards and completed just 15 of 30 passes. One of those throws was intercepted, four were batted at the line, one was tipped as Vick was getting hit, and the first attempt - a screen pass to LeSean McCoy - could have been picked off.

Reid and Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have said Vick's height (6 feet) does not impede his throwing because quarterbacks mostly throw in lanes. But both said following Sunday's game that Vick could do a better job of finding those alleys.

"There are times that you do have to move suddenly in the pocket to make throws," Reid said. "I think if you asked Mike, he'd tell you he had a couple of those where he could have moved a little bit better. And then if you talked to the offensive line, they'd tell you they could have done a better job on a couple of those."

The line has been one of the few bright spots this season, but it had arguably its worst showing against the Dolphins. Vick didn't help himself at times, and he took four sacks, several more hits, and never looked at ease in the pocket.

"Mike's a tough, tough, tough guy," Mornhinweg said. "And so I wanted to keep him a little cleaner, and that didn't happen very well."

The run blocking was also sketchy. McCoy gained only 38 yards on 27 carries. Some of the blame falls on the running back, who went laterally too often. But the line opened up very few holes.

"I think we all could have done a little bit better on offense," Reid said.