Entering the year, he and Jason Kelce planned to share responsibilities pre-snap so Vick could focus on the other tasks at hand. While Vick had final say, it was the center that was calling out the bulk of the protections. Even when Kelce went down and the unproven Dallas Reynolds stepped in, the set-up stayed in place.
The intended results never came. In fact, instead of Vick feeling more focused in, he actually felt somewhat disengaged.
“Mike, when he’s forced to fix the protections like he was last year, I think he is more in tune to everything,” said Kelce. “That’s one of the things that we ran into problems with at camp was sometimes when you have the center doing a lot of that, the quarterback kind of goes on autopilot. I think that’s why Mike wanted to move back to that. He feels more mentally engaged and he feels like he’s more part of it, he has to focus on each and every play.”
Vick actually went to the coaching staff and told him he wanted to make the switch. Against the Saints on Monday night, the responsibilities were all his for the first time this season.
“I did it because I think when a quarterback is able to make the calls, it’s actually easier for you to know when you’re hot and when you’re not, who’s the most dangerous guy,” said Vick. “And I think it allows the center to just hear the calls and focus on the guys in front of him. When the center has to make calls, it’s a lot for him.”
Kelce’s ability to diagnose defenses was a critical element to the plan heading into the season. He would identify the MIKE and adjust protections as necessary, and Vick would override him where he saw fit. Reynolds is just not as far along, and has plenty on his plate to begin with.
Of course, the offensive line did not exactly have a banner night with Vick at the controls Monday. It was their worst performance of the year, in fact, as Vick was sacked seven times and endured 12 QB hits. According to Kelce, the breakdowns do not fall on the quarterback.
“There have been games where the hits have been on Mike, and there have been games where the hits have been on everybody else. This past Monday, that was the offensive line,” said Kelce. “The offensive line really didn’t do a very good job. Mike has had games where he could identify better, but I don’t think that game in particular was one of those. I think the offensive line just did a poor job of blocking, even just regular four-man rushes at times.”
Interestingly enough, Vick was showing real progress against the blitz in recent weeks. In the three games prior to the bye, he was 29-for-42 for 405 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions against extra pressure. That’s a 69 percent completion percentage and 9.6 yards-per-attempt.
The numbers slipped against Atlanta. On Monday things got worse, as Vick was 4-for-12 (33%) for 96 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the blitz and was sacked three times, per Pro Football Focus.
But the offensive front is largely responsible for that. And Vick walked away still feeling that he and the team will be better off for the alteration.
“It feels a lot better. It makes me feel like I’m more in control,” said Vick. “I’m thankful. I enjoy it.”
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