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How To Sack Michael Vick

Posted by Matt Terl on November 11, 2010 – 2:00 pm

If it’s Eagles week 2010 (or Falcons week from 2001 to 2006), it’s time to ask defensive players to explain what it’s like to face Michael Vick. Most of them will tell you that it’s just like facing any other quarterback, that you can’t think about it too much, and that it’s almost a stupid question. (That last part is just implied, I suppose.)

Here, for example, is Kedric Golston from today:

“I don’t think necessarily you change, because you’ve gotta rush the quarterback. You know that he’s not gonna be an easy sack, but at the end of the day if you slow down trying to keep him in front of you, you’re not gonna get there anyway. And he’s just as good throwing the ball as he is running the ball. So if you let him sit back there for a long time, he’s gonna throw the ball sixty, seventy yards downfield.”

And here’s Adam Carriker, also from today:

“To be honest with you, we’re gonna go out and rush the passer. But it is Mike Vick, so it’s more or less rush with vision…. You gotta get after it and just react to whatever he does. If you’re thinking about it, it’s gonna affect your rush; then you’re not gonna get to him and he’s gonna pick you apart. You can’t really worry about it too much.”

Which seems pretty straightforward, and more or less like what I described up there in paragraph one (minus the part about it being a stupid question; neither of these guys gave that impression). But Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan asked Carriker to elaborate on “rush with vision,” and the answer to that, at least, gave one specific procedural detail that’s different about trying to sack Vick.

“With certain quarterbacks,” Carriker explained, “you know they’re not gonna move so you’re just trying to beat the lineman. With Mike Vick, you’re beating the lineman but also you’re trying to keep him in your [line of vision]. I don’t know how to explain it unless you’ve actually done it. You just go out there and you rush and you make sure that he’s in your line of sight somewhere. With some quarterbacks you wouldn’t even look, you’d just try to beat the O-lineman.”

Which is to say, basically, that with some quarterbacks you know what spot you’re rushing to and can focus all your attention on beating the lineman. With Vick, you’ve got to know where he is to know where you’re going. “You just gotta kinda keep an eye on him,” Carriker said, “because he can break out and make plays. At the same time, you just can’t worry about it.”

Golston clarified what not worrying about it meant, too. “It’s a strength that they have. It’s no different than any other team. When you play Peyton Manning, you know what he does, and so that’s what you try to stop. With Vick it’s no different. You know what his strengths are, you know what his weaknesses are, and you try to execute the gameplan. It’s no different that if you’re playing Dallas or Houston or anybody.”

Well, Golston acknowledged, there is one minor difference: “Every team has something that they do well, it just so happens that he does something probably the best in the history of the NFL as far as his legs and running the football from the quarterback position.”

Once you get to Vick, though — IF you get to Vick — Carriker said there’s just one point of emphasis. “We wanna make it end physical. That’s the only thing we’ve said. He’s gonna run, he’s got good feet, he’s quick and all that, so when we hit him, make it physical. That’s pretty much what we said last time, too. You’ve just gotta make it a physical game on him so he doesn’t wanna run.”

Given that they injuring his ribs, knocked him out of the game, and ultimately won, I’d say that last time has to be chalked up as a success. Let’s see if the same strategy can work twice.

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