There’s two offensive weapons the Eagles have going into this Sunday – both of which have the likes of burning the Steelers for lots of yards and lots of points. But do the Steelers know who they need to worry about more?
NT Steve McLendon says that the Steelers defense have Eagles QB Mike Vick figured out. Well that’s good. Maybe they can have a pre-game sit down with Vick prior to this Sunday’s contest because I don’t think Mike Vick even knows who Mike Vick is. He’s brilliant in one moment of a drive and pretty careless the next. Is he a pocket passer or a scrambler? Is he a high powered QB or one who just needs to manage the game? And if Andy Reid has any idea, maybe they should start clueing Vick into, well you know, who the heck he’s supposed to be on that field.
But, maybe that’s the brilliant plan all along. If no one knows what kind of game Vick will have, no one will know how to plan for him or the rest of the Eagles offense. This ninja style of game planning has delivered the Eagles a 3-1 start to their season. After the self proclaimed ‘Dream Team’ of 2011 debacle last season, this schizophrenic Mike Vick might just be the answer to get this team back in the contention of winning the NFC East. As we witnessed during the Eagles vs. Giants game last week, the Eagles can easily keep defenses on their toes when Vick has a ‘good’ game. And let’s be clear, by ‘good’ I mean more like mistake free. Up to that point Vick had accounted for nine of the team’s turnovers (just three games).
When Vick became mistake free against the Giants D – scrambling well, not throwing into bad situations, and overall securing the ball – the Giants had to free defenders up for the pass. That left Vick one on one with a defender – usually Osi Umenyiora – who would cause the defender to over pursue on a scramble. This allowed Vick to get free for a rush or find an open receiver. This also allowed the Eagles to utilize LeSean ‘LeSady’ McCoy in the second half. This kept the Giants D off balance and prevented them from blitzing Vick. This also afforded him more opportunities to hang out longer in the pocket.
McCoy carried for 17 times and 121 yards in the second half alone against the Giants. McCoy’s success that night was largely based on the Giants not run blitzing any longer and focused on a mistake free Vick. Nothing like riding the coat tails of another guy’s successes. Nonetheless, he made Giant defenders look stupid at times with his quick jukes and cuts. This guy is a good fast back. If folks thought the Steelers could have trouble against McFadden of the Raiders (which they did), then McCoy could be a nightmare.
The Steelers defense has had the luxury over the last several seasons that if one aspect of the D lacks quality and execution, then the other can step up and cover that chink in the armor. For years, the run stopping D would help cover the glaring holes in the Steelers secondary. Last season, the secondary ranked #1 and aided a linebacker and frontline that struggled to contain running backs at times. This season…. well… there is no safety net for the D and they are 1-2 thus far for it.
Vick has the potential to carve up the secondary, and McCoy has the potential to blow through the defensive line and linebackers. If James Harrison and Troy Polamalu return and are pretty close to 100%, then I personally feel that the Steelers should plan on containing McCoy. They have a better chance of forcing the Eagles into 3rd and long situations and forcing Vick to have another ‘good’ day. I imagine it would be a very similar plan to how the Steelers used to plan on the Ravens – make Flacco’s noodle arm beat you and contain Ray Rice.
No matter what the Steelers plan on, we – Steeler Nation – can plan on another high scoring contest like we had against the Raiders. The Eagles will get plenty of opportunities, and the Steelers will certainly be relying heavily on Big Ben and his arm. If the Steelers don’t squander any Red Zone opportunities, they may be able to pull this one out. Or perhaps we’ll see just how much soul searching this defense did during it’s bye week.