Early Snag In New Vick-Kelce Arrangement

Michael Vick and Jason Kelce do extra film study together for about a half hour each week, usually on Fridays, to help ensure they are on the same page when it comes to pass protection. They are working out the kinks of a new set-up where the center and quarterback share responsibility at the line of scrimmage for identifying what the defense is doing and aligning the protection accordingly.

While the duo was in lockstep for the most part, they did hit a snag.

“I think we were in the right protection the majority of the time. I think there was one play maybe when they said we should have been in something else,” said Kelce. “What we do need to do a better job of — and I think it’s good that we got our first away game out of the way — is communicating it. There were a couple times when the running back was a little unclear as to what the offensive line was going to do, and there were a couple times when Todd [Herremans] was telling me, ‘Hey you need to make the MIKE calls louder.’ I’m like, ‘Dude, I’m screaming it as loud as I can.’ So we’ve got to be able to communicate it across the entire offensive line.”

Kelce is in charge of declaring a MIKE and establishing initial blocking assignments. Both have the power to change the calls based on how the defense shifts, though Vick has final say and has the ability to override Kelce. Vick is more apt to see cornerback and safety movement for obvious reasons, while Kelce is more focused inside the box. The design is meant to lessen Vick’s load so he can focus more on the play. It is added responsibility for the second-year center, but he does not feel like it slowed his play down on Sunday against the Browns.

“I have more stuff I’m looking at pre-snap but it’s not like it’s overwhelming,” said Kelce. “In my mind it’s simple things. I don’t think it’s that hard. As long as you can count you are usually pretty good at protections. We don’t try to make it too extra complicated.”

The issue was getting the message spread around in a noisy environment. If Kelce is screaming out the MIKE and the tackles can’t hear it, then it’s the job of the respective guards to pass it down the line. Similarly, if the back can’t hear, Vick needs to relay the call.

“It was obviously loud and it was difficult, which is why I stand up there with Mike and Kelce just so I can hear the calls,” said rookie running back Bryce Brown. “Sometimes it doesn’t work. If you don’t hear it, just ask and ask and ask until you get it, because it’s real important to know who is identified as the MIKE and things like that.”

And if you never hear the call?

“You keep your eyes open, be a ball player and if you see anything come through, pick it up,” said Brown.

These are problems that you can’t troubleshoot during Friday film sessions. It is on-the-job training, and the sense is that the Eagles will be more buttoned up moving forward.

“It’s little things like that which will be easier to handle at home,” said Kelce. “And I think that since we already have the away game under our belt, we are prepared now for crowd noise a little bit better.”

Follow Tim on Twitter and email him at tmcmanus@phillymag.com.

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