So i've kind of come to terms with the fact that If I'm gonna be an Eagles fan with Mike Vick as quarterback, I'm gonna have to take the good with the bad. He'll use his legs and arm strength and make plays no one else can...but his overconfidence and refusal to consider risk (interception or injury) will have us pulling our hair out at times. I can accept that most of the time.
But one time when I can't accept this is when we're in the red zone, where every turnover takes point off the board (the NFL average for points per red zone visit is generally around 4.75-5), and outstanding plays generally aren't neccessary in order to reach the pylons.
We all remember the play last week where Mike Vick threw an obvious incompletion that was called a fumble. While I was watching a replay of this play later, my friend made a good point to me: "Yeah it was an incompletion but why run that play in the first place?"
It is a good point cause as I recall many Eagles possessions when they are within the opponents five I can picture a lot of plays in which Mike Vick bootlegs to one side with defenders cornering him in and is forced to make a throw off his back foot to the middle of the field. While Vick should have the awareness to throw the ball into the 3rd row, I think it's a valid point that too much of the time he is put in a turnover-prone situation.
The second half of why I find this so vexing is because a running quarterback is supposed to be a huge advantage near the goal line, not the other way around. My theory is that the Eagles creative play-callers are overthinking. In this case they need to scale it back, and I think they could be effective in a much more simple set.
My plan (and keep in mind I used to play a lot of Madden, so I know what I'm doing) would be to line up Vick in the shotgun, with McCoy next to him. Two tight ends and Avant and Jeremy Maclin on the outside (Love DeSean, but no need for the 160-pound guy here). Doesn't really matter whether you want one WR on each side or both on the same side. I think this basic formation presents the most options for defenses to consider pre-snap.
Within this formation I think you still run to McCoy most of the time. By having Vick in a shotgun to perform the hand off I think you can freeze the end for just a split second which is often the difference on goal line carries. McCoy has a nose for the goal line, doesn't fumble much (until 2 weeks ago), and is saves Vick having to take the contact. No need to get too fancy, just give the kid the ball. However I think it would be good if Vick had some sort of pre-snap option. Keep it simple: One audible which changes the play to an option where Vick play actions and does a designed run and one audible where Vick play actions into a TE cross or curl (something quick and of the low risk variety). I know Vick doesn't sport the highest awareness but this type of basic read option is being run by hundreds of college QB's across the country, it can't be too difficult.
Keep in mind I'm not saying give Vick the freedom to make the read every play. Just that he should know some plays of this variety that the Eagles could use at times.
I think that the idea should be to establish the idea in the defenses head that the Eagles will not hesitate to have Vick run, while in reality they are handing the ball off as much as possible. This is the best way to mitigate risk. I think that by keeping things simple in the red zone the Eagles could at least cut down on the turnovers that are most costly.
I'm aware its not exactly new thinking that Reid passes the ball way too much, especially near the goal line. The fact is I like the Eagles playcalling a lot of the time, This is just one area where I'm never loved their plan of attack.
*One more point: Although conventional thinking is that having your quarterback run is a good way to produce fumbles and injuries, I see Vick taking the worst hits and being stripped of the ball more often on pass plays.