Mike Vick Wasn’t That Bad in Jacksonville, and Other Offensive Observations

Mike Vick Wasn’t That Bad in Jacksonville, and Other Offensive Observations

On the surface, Michael Vick’s first game as the newly reinstated starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles seemed like a mess. He didn’t demonstrate flawless precision like the two games prior. He seemed to be holding on to the ball too long in general. He made some horrendous decisions with the football.

Some of that is on Mike, some it not. If you want to understand why the Eagles only managed to score 16 points during the eight possessions Vick was under center, you need not look at any one individual. The mistakes were everywhere, not just with the signal caller. Take a look at these brief drive summaries:

  • Series 1: Lane Johnson gets too deep in his backpedal and winds up beat to the inside. Vick tries to escape, but can’t this time, putting the Birds in 2nd and 16. Punt
  • Series 2: Vick finds Brent Celek to convert on 3rd and 8, but a holding penalty on Evan Mathis brings it back. Punt
  • Series 3: Vick overthrew Celek on a would-be touchdown, then on the next play a missed assignment drops Philly in a 3rd and 15. Field goal
  • Series 4: Touchdown
  • Series 5: Todd Herremans gets beat, and Vick winds up with almost immediate pressure in his face. He should just eat the sack, but instead tries to throw the ball away off of his back foot resulting in an easy interception. Turnover
  • Series 6: Jason Kelce’s snap wasn’t the best, and Vick couldn’t handle it. They lose the down and five yards, another 3rd and 15. Field goal
  • Series 7: Vick winds up throwing the ball away on all three downs, the third time under almost instant pressure again. Without an all-22 look, we don’t know what was going on downfield. Field goal
  • Series 8: Bryce Brown fumbles at the two-yard line, and the ball goes out of the end zone for a touchback going the other way. Turnover

Even on Vick’s two biggest mistakes – the interception and fumbled snap – the fault rests at least partially on his offensive linemen. Protection was an issue starting from the opening gun for that matter, which did appear to rattle No. 7 a bit at times, perhaps causing a pass or two to sail. Who can blame him?

Vick was largely fine. He completed 15 of 23 passes for 184 yards (a solid 8.0 average per attempt), with one touchdown and one pick – not much wrong with that line. He ran an additional seven times for 53 yards, avoiding a bunch of sacks in the process, or just taking whatever the defense was giving him. He even hit the deck or ran out of bounds on most of his runs.

Actually, the worst play off all wasn’t an interception or a fumbled snap, it wasn’t a sack or an inaccurate pass. It was this pass attempt as Vick was being hauled to the turf, as captured by Jimmy Kempski.

Vick is literally parallel to the ground as he releases, causing the ball to sail straight up in the air, landing near the sideline but still in bounds where luckily when no one was around. The only thing that kept this from being intentional grounding much less picked off is Vick had already been whistled down.

To be honest, this is the most baffling decision I’ve seen a quarterback make all summer, and unfortunately it’s not the first time we’ve seen Vick attempt this ridiculous crap. But it doesn’t mean he had a bad game overall. As Chip Kelly worded it, the 11-year veteran still needs to learn when to live to fight another day.

Question remains whether Vick can or not.

RISING/FALLING

Jason Peters

He was the only member of the offensive line who didn’t get beat or miss an assignment at all really, and he hasn’t played football in close to two years. Very reassuring performance from perhaps the true most valuable player of the Eagles.

Brent Celek

Didn’t drop anything for a change. Finished with four reception for 74 yards. Also had a big third-down conversion called back on an offensive holding. Beat his man for a would-be touchdown, but Vick led him too far. Celek should still be a big part of the offense this season, folks.

Todd Herremans

Improved last week after a tough first game, but had problems here. Was getting plain beat/overpowered one-on-one quite a bit. Was also part of some of the confusion along the offensive line, particularly that interior. Looks like the line’s weak link so far.

DeSean Jackson

Three receptions, 48 yards. Nothing spectacular in this one, but continues to be effective in the intermediate passing game which is a great sign. Seems like he can get open at will. Screened the corner on one of Vick’s long runs. He could be in for a big rebound campaign.

Nick Foles

The 99-yard drive he led in the fourth quarter was all the more impressive by the fact that of the 14 plays there was only one third down. Biggest strength is he gets rid of the ball quickly. Lot of dinks and dunks, but he lets the offense come to him, a mark of efficiency.

MIXED REVIEWS

Jason Kelce

Has generally looked good this summer. Stands his ground at the point of attack. Generally knows his assignment, although there was some confusion on one or two plays in Jacksonville. Biggest issue has been snapping the ball, as both quarterbacks have had issues whether in games or practice. Can’t run a shotgun-based offense with a guy who’s good for a couple of shoddy snaps per game, so let’s hope Kelce gets it fixed.

Damaris Johnson

Flipped field position twice with big returns, one kick, one punt. Those are game changers, and we’ve seen it before. Did get tackled well short of the 20 on one kickoff, but his own man ran into him. Fumbled during a punt return though which is inexcusable. Finished game three with two catches for 24, leaving him at seven for 53 yards in the preseason – nothing to write home about. Should be a fine returner as long as he protects the football.

Bryce Brown

Speaking of protecting the football, looks like we’re still at square one with the second-year back. Racked up 92 yards on 11 carries like it was a joke, yet managed to put the ball on the carpet on his longest gallop of the night, a 23-yarder that was a step or two away from being six points. Brown does not keep the ball high and tight to his body, period. It’s an issue that will keep him off the field if Chris Polk continues to be reliable.

QUICK CUTS

Eagles have to get down to 75 men by Tuesday, so these people are gone.

TE Derek Carrier - Had a chance to make the roster as long as the Eagles are carrying four tight ends, but Clay Harbor played well and demonstrated enough versatility to fend Carrier off.

WR Nick Miller - Was actually cut earlier then brought back after Jeremy Maclin went down. Had five catches for 50 yards in garbage time, but his future was clear.

OT Nic Purcell - The big Aussie didn’t see too much game action, didn’t impress with the limited reps he got. Lot of competition on that line, Purcell was probably too raw to compete.

TE Will Shaw - Seemed like the coaching staff preferred Carrier over Shaw, so no surprise here.

LS James Winchester - Signed after Jon Dorenbos sustained a concussion in the first game. For emergencies only.

Best of NBA: Harden's 38-points fuels Rockets past Bucks

Best of NBA: Harden's 38-points fuels Rockets past Bucks

HOUSTON -- James Harden had 38 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and the Houston Rockets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-92 on Wednesday night.

Harden drilled a straightaway 3-pointer with six minutes left to give Houston a 13-point lead and shimmied his shoulders down the court in a celebratory dance as the Bucks called timeout.

After losing three of four, the Rockets regained their form while improving to 17-4 at home this season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks for Milwaukee (see full recap).

Rose powers slumping Knicks past Celtics 117-106
BOSTON -- Derrick Rose matched his season high with 30 points, and the slumping New York Knicks beat the Boston Celtics 117-106 on Wednesday night.

New York played without injured starters Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah, but Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Willy Hernangomez each scored 17 points to help make up for their absence. It was just the third win in 14 games for the Knicks.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 39 points, his 13th time this season with 30 or more points. Jae Crowder added 21 for the Celtics, who lost for only the fourth time in 17 games.

Al Horford, Boston's big free-agent acquisition during the summer, had five points on 2-of-14 shooting. He was 1 for 8 on 3-point attempts.

Boston closed to 97-96 on Jaylen Brown's two free throws with just under eight minutes to play, but Justin Holiday and Courtney Lee nailed 3-pointers 29 seconds apart, pushing New York's lead back to seven. Rose then capped an 8-0 spree by putting in his own miss after Thomas missed a jumper -- his seventh straight shot that was off (see full recap).

Home cooking: Wiz top Grizz 104-101, 13th win in row in DC
WASHINGTON -- A vastly different team at home, the Wizards won their 13th consecutive game in Washington by edging the Memphis Grizzlies 104-101 Wednesday night behind two late layups from John Wall, who finished with 25 points and 13 assists.

James Ennis III missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer for Memphis.

The Wizards are just 4-13 on the road but now 18-6 at home, where they've compiled their longest winning streak since a 15-game run in the 1988-89 season.

Washington never trailed and led by as many as 19 points in the first half, then held on after a 10-0 run by Memphis made it a two-point game with 2 1/2 minutes left. That's when Wall took over, scoring on consecutive drives (see full recap).

Walker, Hibbert lead Hornets past Blazers 107-85
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kemba Walker scored 23 points, Roy Hibbert provided a huge boost off the bench, and the Charlotte Hornets stopped a five-game slide with a 107-85 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Nicolas Batum added 17 points for the Hornets, who limited the Trail Blazers to 35 percent shooting and snapped an eight-game streak of allowing at least 100 points. But it was the 7-foot-2 Hibbert who stole the show.

Hibbert, who came in averaging 5.2 points per game, had a season-high 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting.

Damian Lillard scored 21 points and C.J. McCollum had 18 for Portland, which has lost three straight and 16 of 22 since Dec. 5 (see full recap).

Penn State falls to Indiana, 78-75, on buzzer 3-pointer

usa-indiana-penn-state.jpg
USA Today Images

Penn State falls to Indiana, 78-75, on buzzer 3-pointer

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Shep Garner gathered his teammates along Penn State's bench to remind them they needed one more stop to head to overtime.

Indiana's James Blackmon was ready to head home, however.

Blackmon took an in-bounds pass with less than five seconds to go, sprinted down the court and drained a 3-pointer to lift the Hoosiers to a 78-75 win over Penn State on Wednesday night.

Blackmon, Thomas Bryant and Robert Johnson all scored 17 points for the Hoosiers (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten) who survived a late Penn State rally.

"They definitely grew up," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "It wasn't easy, but they definitely earned the victory. It would've been a shame if they hadn't gotten this win because they earned it."

Tony Carr scored a career-best 24 points and Garner added 15 for the Nittany Lions (11-8, 3-3) who trailed by 14 with 9:19 left. Garner brought Penn State within striking distance with a 3-pointer that cut it to 75-73 with 39 seconds to play.

It was the second straight win for the Hoosiers (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten) who took control by halftime and led the entire second half until a pair of Lamar Stevens free throws tied the game with less than five seconds left.

"I'm really proud of the kids, the way they fought back," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "I felt like Penn State really hurt Penn State tonight, missed layups, little things. If we shoot better from the free-throw line, maybe the outcome's different."

Memories of Watford
There's a good reason Blackmon's shot was strikingly similar to the one Christian Watford sank at the buzzer to beat then-No. 1 Kentucky in 2011.

"It was the same play-call," Crean said. "But we got open differently. Usually we run off a screen but in this case we knew they'd switch it so James did a great job of setting it up."

Penn State coaches and players knew they'd have to defend a similar play, Chambers made note of it in his scouting report, but Blackmon was able to slip past Josh Reaves at midcourt and pull up over Julian Moore to hit the winning basket.

Rim un-protected
Indiana didn't have as big of a challenge on the glass with Penn State's designated rim-protector Mike Watkins in early foul trouble. Penn State's leading rebounder played just 13 minutes and finished with no rebounds.

The Hoosiers won the battle on the glass 37-33 and Penn State made just 21 of 31 free throws.

Hurt Hoosier
Indiana lost OG Anunoby on the final play of the first half to a right knee injury. The sophomore forward came down after battling for an offensive rebound and crumpled to the floor where he clutched at his right knee before trainers helped him slowly to the locker room. He did not return.

Anunoby started eight games and was tied for sixth in the Big Ten with 1.4 steals per game.

Crean said Anunoby would be evaluated when the team returned to Bloomington.

The big picture
Indiana: The Hoosiers entered Wednesday's game having lost five of their last eight. They'll have a chance to gain momentum with four of their next five against middle-of-the-pack Big Ten foes before a trip to Madison to take on No. 17 Wisconsin on Feb. 5.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions' inability to put a full game together has to be grating on coach Patrick Chambers. Even in their last win against No. 24 Minnesota, the Nittany Lions were out of sorts early before a late rally paid off. They were competitive early and late in this one but sluggish and mistake-prone midway through when Indiana took over.

Up next
Indiana hosts Michigan State on Saturday.

Penn State plays at No. 22 Purdue on Saturday