Diagnosing Michael Vick’s Fumble Problem

Michael Vick brought  fate into the equation when discussing his two fumbles Sunday against the Steelers.

“I’ve never really had a problem fumbling the football,” Vick said. “It was just one of them days. Everything happens for a reason. If it was meant to be, I wouldn’t have fumbled the ball at the goal line. I have no explanation for it. There’s really none.”

Let’s break that quote down for a second:

As Sheil noted, the premise that fumbling has never been a problem for No. 7 is faulty. He has fumbled 10 times in each of the last two seasons. He already has eight this year, losing five of them. He has 84 in his career. That is officially a problem.

Andy Reid was asked about the second part of that quote, and whether it represents a mentality that needs to be altered.

“There is nobody more competitive than this guy,” said Reid in response. “He knows he can’t fumble, understand that. He knows he can’t have turnovers and he can’t fumble. Nobody knows it better than the player. He doesn’t want to go out there and do those things. We have to go back and work on ball security. He understands that and we’ll do that. He’s going to get it right, just like he did the interceptions. We’re going to get this thing fixed.”

If it is not mentality, then is it style of play?

“Yesterday it was happening on plays where he was trying to advance the football,” said Reid. “Style isn’t ball security, because every running back has a different style. You just have to hang onto the football. There’s not much else I can say other than that. You keep it high and tight and cover it in traffic, that’s what you do.”

Reid also ruled out the beefed-up flak jacket that Vick is wearing as a culprit.

For the head coach, the problem comes down to fundamentals. High and tight. Cover it in traffic. Let’s take a look at Vick’s two fumbles, which came on back-to-back series in the first quarter.

The first happened on 1st-and-goal from the three. It was a designed draw to the right. As Vick  lunged for the end zone, safety Ryan Clark got low and was able to knock the ball loose.

In the first frame, you’ll see Vick carrying the ball in his left hand as Clark comes in for the hit.

Here he is pulling the ball closer to his body, though his free hand isn’t protecting it.

By the time the off hand gets into position, the damage is done.

As Reid said, the ball could have been a little higher and tighter, and protected better.

The second lost fumble came on 2nd-and-9 from the Eagles’ 26. Vick lines up in the shotgun on a designed pass play. He doesn’t see anything he likes, and takes off. Lawrence Timmons comes from Vick’s left side and ends up with the strip. As you can see,  the ball was not secured as Timmons’ arm swipes in.

Vick’s arm gets pulled down and the ball pops loose.

Certainly the head coach is on point from a technical standpoint. But what is not accounted for in that explanation is why it continues to happen with Vick. The problems have obviously been identified, but not fixed.

One thing is for sure: Fate doesn’t have anything to do with it.