A little hazy on just how Michael Vick and Jason Kelce plan to split the responsibilities at the line of scrimmage this season, Birds 24/7 caught up with Kelce after Sunday’s walkthrough to get coached up.
Thanks to a detailed explanation, we learned that Vick – while maintaining final say – has been relieved of a good chunk of responsibility. Much falls on the shoulders of the second-year center.
“My job is to get it started,” said Kelce (meaning establish initial blocking assignments based on the first look a defense gives). “Every single play, my job is to declare a MIKE based on the alignment of the defense. That gets us started for that play. After that, depending on what protection it is and depending what kind of play it is, I have the ability to change it based on maybe safeties shifting or them tipping away the blitz.
“Mike also has the ability to change it, and he has the final say of anything. So let’s say I want to change it but Mike says, ‘We’re going here,’ we’re going there. At the end of the day he has the final say; he has complete control. All I’m doing is trying to help him, and trying to bypass him coming in and having to change everything.”
One of the things in there that stood out to me is that Kelce is going to be reading safety movement. How do you that when you’re in a three-point stance with a tackle breathing on you?
“It depends on what the play is and what the cadence is, but if I’m down I can still look up and see safeties moving around,” said Kelce. “If it’s a pass play – and in particular a no-back situation – if it’s a five-man pro and we really want to get the five most dangerous, in that situation I will look at the safeties because obviously then the tilt of them or them shifting over to one side of the ball will give away a blitz tendency.”
As Ron Jaworski recently brought to his attention, Vick was hit 209 times in 13 games last season, which averages out to a troubling 16 hits per game. The addition of offensive line coach Howard Mudd dropped his sack total – he was taken down once every 21.5 dropbacks in 2011, compared to once every 15.6 dropbacks the year prior – but it was far from a hazard-free environment. Vick’s turnover numbers, meanwhile, doubled (18 in 2011, 9 in 2010) last season despite playing in just one more game. There is little doubt that Vick’s added responsibilities at the line played into that.
“I had no ability to change [the protections],” said Kelce. “He was doing a lot of work last year changing and altering protections.
“We’re just trying to make it easier for him – more efficient really. Trying to speed that process up so he doesn’t have to go, ‘Alright, what’s the line doing; what’s the defense doing; fix that, what’s the receivers doing. That’s a lot for him to think about.”
Kelce added that he enjoys the increased responsibility. It’s hard to believe that the sixth-round pick out of Cincinnati is already this far along, but Mudd obviously believes he is up for it.
“I think that synergy is way better than it was because of trust,” said Mudd. “Kelce’s gone through the war, and I know that Mike knows that Kelce is only doing something to try to help us.”
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