Offensive Line Crumbling In Front Of Vick

It has become a familiar sight now: Michael Vick drops back, a defender (or two, or more) breaks free without much effort, and the quarterback gets cracked in a snap. Head on. Sideways. Blindsided. Head. Chest. Ribs. Everywhere.

Seven sacks for the Saints Monday night, and 12 quarterback hits.

“We saw earlier in the week on film that they were giving up a lot of sacks and letting Michael Vick get hit a lot,” said Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, who tortured Vick all game, finishing with three sacks and five QB hits. “We’re glad the defensive line got together and capitalized on that.”

The Saints entered the game with just 13 sacks on the entire season and were dead last as a defense overall, but looked potent against this decimated front. Already missing Jason Peters (Achilles) and Jason Kelce (ACL), things got worse when Todd Herremans was carted to the locker room with a tendon strain in his right foot. (He will undergo an MRI Tuesday morning). Demetress Bell appeared to struggle badly in his place, particularly late.

“I think that’s been the biggest thing: we lost so many offensive linemen this season,” said Vick. “Normally that doesn’t happen throughout the course of the season. So we’re finding ways to work through it. It’s difficult, and it’s tough on the players and the coaches. But we’re battling. Still moving the ball at times, and just not finishing.”

Vick, you’ll recall, was getting hit at a high rate last year as well, but the abuse was mild compared to this season. The quarterback hit total for the Eagles in 2011 was 69 in the 13 games that Vick appeared. That number is already at 67 with eight games to play.  The opposition registered double-digit hits on Vick once in 2011. Four teams have accomplished that feat through eight games this year.

You can’t help but wince.

“Oh, there’s no sympathy in this league,” said Marty Mornhinweg. He sure is a battler, though, isn’t he? Tough guy now.”

The 32-year-old Vick is challenging questions about his durability by continuing to get off the mat. It’s surprising that Nick Foles has not been put in out of necessity, never mind any other motivation. And, with the current state of the O-line, the rookie is probably better off staying exactly where he is — on the bench.

Vick admitted that he can get the ball out quicker at times and did not pin the issues on his offensive line.

“I believe in myself. I believe that in a split second that I can get the ball out. It may not be the case all the time,” said Vick. “It’s tough but I just keep fighting, keep battling. I don’t see anything but that end zone.”

For most of his career, Vick could Houdini his way out of more of these situations. But he is in his thirties now. His body has been beaten at an unsustainable rate for too long, and it’s catching up to him — defenders are catching up to him.

“Michael has taken some big hits this year,” said Saints assistant head coach Joe Vitt. “I don’t know that his escapability, maybe because of some of the hits he took, was as good as it was four or five years ago.”

And now there’s no way out.