The Cardinals have faced Michael Vick twice in his career, and both times it was before his reincarnation as a better, more studious passer. Both times it was during his stint with the Atlanta Falcons, a time before he was sent to prison for dog fighting and during the time he admittedly didn’t work very hard at his craft. Certainly, Vick still was an amazing athlete — like now playing for the Eagles — and his running ability makes him so dangerous.
In 2004, defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast came up with a new scheme just to mess with Vick and it worked perfectly. The Falcons did almost nothing most of the day offensively in Atlanta, and the Cards bottled up Vick. Unfortunately, the Cards’ offense also did almost nothing, except turn the ball over a couple of times in scoring range. The Falcons kicked two field goals that day to Arizona’s one. Up until the very end, Vick was stymied — 10-for-20 passing for 115 yards and one interception, and seven rush attempts for 10 yards — until Vick made the one play to seal the 6-3 win, running a play-action naked bootleg with two minutes left on second-and-7 for 58 yards.
His 2006 showing was better, in a game that for Arizona fans was better known for Matt Leinart’s debut and introduction to the lineup (Denny Green grabbed the microphone during a postgame interview between Paul Calvisi and Leinart, as Leinart was trying to dance around the question of whether he would start, and announced that Leinart was indeed the starter). The Falcons romped, 32-10, kicking six field goals. Vick only threw for 153 yards (13-for-22, one pick) but he ran for 101 on just 11 carries.
Vick’s running ability hasn’t changed. He has 456 yards rushing and averages 8.0 yards a carry (remember, in the NFL, sacks are not included in a quarterback’s rushing totals). Keeping him contained will continue to be important — keeping gap responsibility, and being wary of where he is in the pocket. He can be deadly as a passer, but it’s his running that can be the backbreaker.
Tags: Eagles, Michael Vick
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