Eagles Wake-Up Call: Does Vick Deserve Blame For Injury?

First, let’s begin with the play in question.

The Eagles’ first-team offense had a 1st-and-10 at its own 26-yard-line. Vick executed a play-action fake to LeSean McCoy and dropped back. The Patriots were only rushing four, and the Eagles had six players in to block – five offensive linemen and tight end Brent Celek, who lined up on the right side, next to Todd Herremans.

Patriots defensive tackle Kyle Love got past left guard Evan Mathis and was closing in on Vick before he could set his feet. It wasn’t a matter of Mathis getting physically beat, but rather a matter of confusion about assignments.

“The look that we were facing in practice, what we were expecting was the linebacker would be front-side on that, which would give Mathis help on the  inside,” Jason Kelce told reporters after the game. “But he was actually backside on the play. Evan thought he was getting help from the center and I was going the other way. Those are things that we can’t have as an offensive line.”

Vick spun away from Love, opened up and launched a deep pass attempt in DeSean Jackson’s direction. Charging from his right side was linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, who was being double-teamed by Celek and Herremans.

But keep in mind that when Vick let go of the football, he was all the way back at the 10-yard-line, 16 yards behind the original line of scrimmage and 6 yards past where he originally tried to set his feet. In other words, under normal circumstances, Celek’s blocking would have been fine. Cunningham would have been way too far upfield to get to Vick.

The pressure was clearly not Vick’s fault. However, this was a preseason game, and after he spun away from initial pressure, he could have just gone down. In theory, that would have been the right move. But in practice, I can’t remember ever seeing Vick concede a sack – not in the regular season, not in the preseason, not even in practice. So he did what he always tries to do: make a play. That’s when Cunningham drilled him in his ribs and knocked him out of the game.

The obvious question here is: How much responsibility does Vick bear for the injury?

That depends on who you ask.

Andy Reid seemed to think there was little Vick could have done.

“I wouldn’t put that into that category,” he said, meaning the category of Vick doing a better job of protecting himself.

ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski seemed to agree.

“That’s one of those fluke plays,” he said. “You look at it. There was pressure, Mike moved, he wanted to get the ball down the field. All of a sudden, Cunningham gets a shot at his ribs. …To me, it was one of those fluke plays that happens in the course of a game.”

Jaws’ old partner, Jon Gruden, takes the other side.

“When you leave the pocket where you’re designed to have protection and start running around, you’re going to be suspect to those kinds of hits,” Gruden said, ignoring the fact that all four of Vick’s injuries last year came while he was in the pocket. “He’s got to try harder to avoid those hits. Thankfully, it’s nothing serious.”

I’m on the fence with this one. On one hand, the smart move is clearly just to go down, take the sack and move on to the next play – especially in the preseason.

On the other hand, that’s easy for me to say. Vick had a split-second decision to make, and going down would have meant fighting against every instinct he’s ever had as a football player.

I’m guessing the Birds 24/7 audience might be split on this one. Feel free to chime in with your comments below.

WHAT YOU MISSED

On a scale of 1-to-Tebow, Nick Foles is now registering, writes T-Mac, who reports live from Foxboro.

Here are the details of Vick’s injury, along with updates on some of the other Eagles players. Vick will have an MRI and CT scan to determine if he suffered cartilage damage in his ribs.

Andy Reid got in Cullen Jenkins’ face on the sideline in the second quarter. Both men explained what the deal was, plus we’ve got video of the dust-up.

Instant observations from the Birds’ 27-17 win.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano is ranking the top 20 players in the NFC East. He’s got DeSean Jackson at No. 17:

Based on his production the past two seasons, you could make the case for leaving him off entirely. But what keeps him on is his latent talent. I don’t believe there’s a faster player in the entire league, or one more terrifying to opposing defenses when he has the ball. He needs to get the ball more, and he bears a good portion of the responsibility for that. But assuming the worst of his focus issues are behind him along with the contract concerns, I think 2012 will show us a bit more return on Jackson’s remarkable ability. And if it does, he’s likely to rocket up next year’s edition of this list.

Speaking of Jackson, during an interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters, he told a national audience what we already knew around these parts:

“I let it get to me, even though I tried not to let it. I was trying to protect myself from getting hurt — now I’m just giving it all.”

And finally, SI.com’s Peter King is not happy that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was fined just $21,000 for his hit on Byron Leftwich last week:

I don’t care if these players don’t get paid for the preseason games the way they do the regular season — Rodgers-Cromartie, who was unrepentant over the hit (surprise!), launched himself into Leftwich and throttled him in the head. A textbook case of launching and hitting a defenseless quarterback in the helmet during the act of throwing gets $21,000? It’s just wrong. That hit needed six figures or a suspension — or both.

COMING UP

The Eagles are off today, but Tim will have more reaction from the locker room after Monday night’s win. And I’ll be posting my game reviews throughout the day.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.

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  • http://twitter.com/ProtoTyler Tyler Phillips

    Peter King is a joke. Used to be good, but is a joke now.

  • Dom

    Gruden has become a hack … I never seen him develop a QB while he coached …suddenly he’s an espn QB guru ,ignore him mike he will get you killed! he’s just playing up to those idiot Archie Bunkers out there

  • DAVMARIS

    How about stopping the play action passes, which only seem to slow down our line’s blocking scheme and not the rush…if you do not run, how does our bone head coaching staff think that is going to work, obviously it slowed nobody down in this case. Another point..if Vick’s main area of concern is working on med route accuracy and preparing for blitzes, hot routes, etc.., why are we working on what he does well in the pre-season, namely 9 step drop, triple move routes by Jackson?? I have grown so tired of how this coaching staff calls plays — they cannot help themselves………think first play of the Green Bay playoff game 2 years ago, it might have been the same damn play call….

  • http://twitter.com/TLoke2112 Tony Wiltshire

    I lived in Tampa for the Gruden years. After he took Dungy’s veteran team all the way beating us and his former team (Oakland) in the process it was a complete disaster and a patheticly anemic offense. Gruden = over rated.

    As far as Vick is concerned, how about using your brain? How many years has he been in the league?

  • borntosuffer

    Gruden just talks a lot. It’s not humanly possible to talk as much as Gruden and actually know what you are talking about. I bet the next day he doesn’t remember 75% of what he said and would use different “facts” 50% of the time if he were to discuss the same topic.

  • borntosuffer

    I am sadly coming to the conclusion that Vick is considerably more fragile than most QB’s. He’s just not nearly as big as most. The combination of his size, style and the Eagles O puts him at high risk of injury. In some ways, it makes sense that he is injured more often in the pocket. How many guys can get a clean shot on him when he is running? But, when he is setting up to pass, the D can tee off.

  • BirdsNYC

    PK long ago entered the d-bag hall of fame.

  • jabostick

    Like most things in football, everyone played a role. I think it started with the miscommunication with Kelce/Mathis and snowballed. I had a similar thought to DAVMARIS too: sometimes the play calls are so involved and take so long to setup that Vick is almost forced to run around for a while behind the line

  • UncleCarm

    I think DAVMARIS may be on to something. Maybe Sheil can pull up some stats for Eagles playaction plays. My seat of the pants thought is that they do not work very well. Also, if you look at the big picture, the fact is that Vick gets hurt alot. Is his luck really that bad, or is he to blame for it. I think he has to take responsibility. Lastly, Foles had an impressive grasp of this offense at such an early stage.