Reid needs to shoulder blame for Vick

BY foxsports • September 19, 2011

You don’t put a Ferrari in a demolition derby. But for some reason, Andy Reid keeps dropping Michael Vick in the way of oncoming, beat-up pickup trucks. This isn’t going to work.

The notoriously cheap Philadelphia Eagles have dropped some real money to put together a real Dream Team. But in the end, it’s all going to come down to Vick, isn’t it? And more important, the way Vick is handled and used.

So far, not so good. Vick was hurt Sunday night in a 35-31 loss to Atlanta, Week 2, when he was tackled into his own guy. He spit up blood and left the game with a concussion. He might be out for a while. It can happen to anyone in a football game, and it was just a freaky play with a freaky player. So was it Reid’s fault?

Well, kind of. Yes. And even if it wasn’t, it was just too predictable.

Vick is not going to last if Reid doesn’t retool and rethink.

Reid is misusing Vick, who is already in danger of ending up with the same fate Donovan McNabb did under Reid. Zero Super Bowl titles.

It’s not that Vick is perfect, or that McNabb was. I’m a McNabb believer, but honestly, he wasn’t in shape half the time.

But it’s Reid’s job to understand the flaws and to put his quarterback in the best possible position to succeed, not the best position to spit up blood with his brains turned to mush.

It’s the same thing parents are supposed to do with their kids, or bosses with their employees. It’s just amazing that Reid, after managing McNabb all those years, hasn’t figured that out yet.

Reid has had success in his career, but he still doesn’t have a Super Bowl win. At this point, he’s still just the guy other coaches beat in big games on their way to the top.

You take a pass-happy coach, throw in an iffy offensive line and top it off with a quarterback who’s a little too small, throws his body around a little too much and still has the instincts of a scrambler, and what do you get?

Mismanagement. Injuries to Vick are inevitable.

Reid always seems to rely on Vick to bail the Eagles out of every jam. I get that. Vick has greatness in him. But there is too much on his plate.

By now, LeSean McCoy should be a star, not an underused running back. He averaged 5.2 yards a carry last year and has averaged 6.6 this year. Sunday night, he had 18 carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns. He could take pressure off Vick with, say, 25, 26 carries.

It’s not that you can’t use the pass to set up the run, the way Reid likes. It worked well enough for Indianapolis and New England.

But Peyton Manning and Tom Brady get rid of the ball quicker than Vick does. They are more polished at reading defenses. Vick has said that in Vick 1.0, pre-prison, he never studied defenses much.

Vick 2.0 is dramatically improved, able to pass and willing to stay in the pocket much more.

But maybe he’s still a little behind and still has trouble picking up blitzes. If you were a defensive coordinator, you’d blitz the heck out of him, too. And we still don’t know if Vick is a big-game winner.

So it’s on Reid now not only to help develop Vick but also to keep him out of harm’s way while making the most of his talents for the longest periods of time.

Last year, Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz had big plans for his quarterback, Jay Cutler. It was going to be a wide-open offense with Martz throwing in all his little quirks. But Cutler was getting crushed so much that Martz had to alter his approach, cut back on the seven-step drops and make sure Cutler got rid of the ball much faster.

He protected his quarterback, and the Bears got to the NFC championship game. Reid needs to think about that.

For now, he’s the passing version of Marty Schottenheimer, who relied so much on running that he wouldn’t tap into his quarterback’s skills enough. Reid relies so much on passing that he overuses his QB.

Vick said in a TV interview recently that he doesn’t even remember how he gets out of some of the jams he’s in. He has to go back and watch the film to find out. Some of this stuff is instinctual for Vick. When a defensive end is charging in on him, he’s just going to do what he does. I’m not sure how much you can coach reaction.

Reid never adapted well for McNabb, who had Vick-like talent. McNabb wanted to be a pocket passer, but Reid never surrounded him with the right pieces. Then, the Eagles finally brought in Terrell Owens for one year, the year they almost won the Super Bowl.

In the end, having asked so much of his quarterback, McNabb folded in the big game, and threw up on his own shoes in the huddle. Or maybe that was partly McNabb not being in shape. Or partly just his own makeup.

The truth is, it was all of the above. And it was Reid’s job to weigh McNabb’s great skills and his shortcomings and find what would work best. He never did.

It’s going to take a team effort now, the team of Reid/Vick. That has to be a dream team within the Dream Team. Reid is supposed to be the leader with the answers.

Vick is the guy spitting up blood.