By Les Bowen, Philadelphia Daily News –
PHILADELPHIA — Michael Vick said this week that he doesn’t worry about turnovers endangering his job as the Eagles’ starting quarterback, because he knows he can do something about that.
“The competitor that I am, I understand that you have to protect the football,” Vick said Wednesday. “So, I cut down on the interceptions last week, and had two fumbles. It’s something I know I can get corrected.
“I know I can get my job done, week-in and week-out. As a whole, you have to go out there and put it all together. That’s what I’m focused on, and nothing in between.”
Vick, drawing a crowd of dozens of reporters who jostled for position as they pinned him in front of his locker stall, did not seem to be in a reflective, expansive mood. Asked if he’d had problems deciphering blitzes Sunday at Arizona, Vick said: “We had no trouble with blitz recognition. Everything is good with our offense. Everything is in sync, everything is intact. We just gotta get better. We eliminate the turnovers and start fast, we can give ourselves a (better) chance to win the games.”
Facts would seem to contradict this view, most notably the disaster that unfolded on the final play of the first half, when Vick said he saw Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes move up to the line before the snap, yet he turned his back to Rhodes and was sacked for a fumble that was run back 93 yards for a touchdown.
But in resisting the notion he has trouble reading blitzes, Vick found an ally Wednesday in Eagles coach Andy Reid.
“I’m sure you’re talking about the one before the half, and that was a mishap,” Reid said. “The rest of it, he actually had some nice checks in there and did a nice job with several of the plays.”
Earlier, Reid acknowledged he’d felt the need to speak with Vick, after Reid’s comments at his Monday news conference were construed as a less-than-robust endorsement of the 32-year-old quarterback. Reid began damage control on his WIP radio show Monday evening, after Eagles spokesman Derek Boyko alerted Reid to the widespread media reaction.
“Well, it was the way it was interpreted,” Reid said. “That’s not what I had in mind. Derek explained to me how it was interpreted, and so, I’ve talked to Mike, made sure I mentioned it on my radio show. You guys are very good at what you do, so I (wanted to) make sure we clarify it. Bad semantics there.”
What did Vick say to Reid?
“He doesn’t even worry about it. He doesn’t worry about all that,” Reid said. “The comments weren’t directed that way and he knows that.”
Reid was questioned again Wednesday on the length of Vick’s leash. “Michael is our starting quarterback,” he said.
“We spoke about it, but it wasn’t anything serious,” Vick confirmed. “We’re in a position where we have to look forward to this week. We have to get ready for this game.”
Reid and some of Vick’s teammates talked about what they believe they have to do to help Vick, whose passer rating of 66.3 currently ranks 29th in the NFL.
“There’s more to it than that,” Reid said, when asked about pre-snap reads. “We’ve got to protect, too. We’ve got to make sure we’re calling the right plays.”
Tight end Brent Celek said support for Vick in the locker room hasn’t wavered.
“It’s not just one thing that he’s doing out there that is making us lose the game. It’s all of us. It’s obvious if you watch the film that it’s not just Mike,” Celek said.
The Cardinals blitzed furiously, often up the middle, with center Dallas Reynolds making his first NFL start, trying to call the right protections.
“I’m not sure,” left guard Evan Mathis said, when asked if Arizona gave other teams a blueprint for bottling up the Eagles’ offense. Of course, Arizona runs a 3-4 scheme with big, fast, aggressive linebackers, so you might need those ingredients. “They didn’t change their scheme dramatically to do what they did … most of the stuff they brought, we had seen it on film, and if they were to bring it again, we’d have the corrections we’ve made in the film room. If people do try those things, likely we’re better prepared now.”
Mathis said there were lots of reasons why the Eagles didn’t handle Arizona’s blitzes well.
“Sometimes it was where the protection was set, if it was set away from the guy who ended up walking up late, then he wasn’t accounted for, or he was accounted for by somebody who was getting there late,” Mathis said. “Sometimes the backs have dual reads; if both their guys come, they can only block one. A lot of times, they brought more defenders than we had blockers. When that happens, we’ve got to just get rid of the ball, make plays.”
Wideout Jeremy Maclin — who returned to practice Wednesday and said he will play Sunday — said what he saw, watching from home on TV with a hip injury, was that “we just never really settled down last week. I think we’ve got to get out there and establish a tempo, establish a rhythm, and kind of go from there.”
Reid and some of his players talked (belatedly) about helping Vick establish that rhythm with better balance in the offense. LeSean McCoy carried just four times, for 15 yards, in the first half at Arizona.
“You’re seeing it with some of the good throwing teams in this league — balance, you’ve got to have some sort of balance, whether that’s 60-40, 70-30,” Reid said. “You’ve got to be able to, obviously, keep defenses off balance and, at the same time, get yourself in rhythm as an offense.”
McCoy said he doesn’t ever feel he needs to make his case to Reid or offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
“I trust those guys,” McCoy said. “I trust that they know what type of player I am, they have a lot of confidence in me, and in the offensive line … There’s times when Marty’s asking me, ‘What do you want? What do you see?’ There’s never a case where I’m telling him, ‘Hey, I want the ball.’ Because that would be selfish. With this type of offense, with this type of players we have, the big plays we’re capable of … it’s hard to ask for the ball and demand it.”
Vick was asked if there needs to be reassessment, or change, for the offense to be more effective than it has been through the first three weeks.
He didn’t seem to expect major surgery.
“I pretty much expect us to go out there and put it all together at some point,” he said.