Falcons MUST force Michael Vick into turnover(s)


September 23, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Atlanta Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud (28) and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (95) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (56) celebrate after an interception against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

It’s probably one of the most cliche things in the world of football to say that the team that wins the turnover battle will win the game. Every team wants turnovers, and it certainly makes winning football games much easier. But against an Eagles offense led by Michael Vick, the task becomes much easier.

For your review, I have a link to Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback from two days ago. In the section titled ‘The Deep End’ he goes into analysis of the turnover problems that Vick has gone through. This is a must read link.

Vick isn’t particularly sure handed with the football, and he doesn’t always make great decisions when throwing the ball. So here are my suggestions for forcing Vick into turnovers.

  1. Bring A-gap pressure. That means bringing a linebacker or safety on a blitz on one or both sides of the center. By not giving Vick a pocket to pass from, it will force him to not be able to handle the snap, not be able to have designed runs, or scramble. Heck, the Falcons may even get a sack out of it. And it’s kinda like playing with fire by letting Vick out of the pocket where he can run or set the pocket and throw. But when he scrambles to a side, that’s when he doesn’t hold onto the ball very well, and becomes much more susceptible to fumbling. By making him think scrambling is a good thing, he’s playing right into the Falcons hands.
  2. Keep everything in front of you in pass defense. Don’t let Desean Jackson or any of the other Philadelphia receivers behind you. And while keeping them in front of you, don’t take your eyes off of them for a second. If you do, they will burn you. So far the Falcons secondary has done a good job of this. They need to continue against a team that lives and dies by the big play. They need to make sure that the Eagles die by the big play on Sunday.
  3. Dictate where Michael Vick can throw the ball. One thing that Vick likes to do is roll the pocket to one side, and then have a backside receiver go deep and across the field (usually on a post or a deep crossing route). This is done by design, and usually gives him more time in the pocket, as well as allowing the routes to fully develop. It allows a big play, but if a defense forces Vick to do the same thing, they can dictate what they want him to do. For example, blitz Vick from the right side, and roll most of the coverage to the left. You will force him to throw the ball to the left half of the field, where you can have more than half of your coverage. You’ll take a risk that Vick could throw the ball deep across the field, but that would be a play that happens on the fly, not something they would do by design. Planning to foil Vicks plans is better than giving him the chance to sit back and carve you up. Plus, maybe he forces a throw back across the field that turns into a turnover. By dictating the coverage and rush to Vick, things become much easier.

The Falcons have a bunch of things that they can do to try to fool Vick in coverage. The great thing about playing Vick is that you don’t necessarily have to fool him to a big degree, as he’s not of the same quarterbacking brilliance of Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. But he is an explosive player, and you never know when he may hit on a big play. Limiting him to short gains really makes him antsy and looking to make something big happen. By not gambling against them getting the big play, you can make the Eagles offense, and Mike Vick, try to force the big play. That’s the best way to contain Philadelphia’s offense.