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Eagles Vs Ravens: Can Baltimore Pressure Michael Vick?


That pressuring the opposing QB and protecting your QB is a key to pretty much any game is no surprise. You hear it every week and this time is no different.

Last week, pressure is clearly what derailed the Eagles passing game. Now part of that pressure can be blamed on Vick holding the ball a bit, but film review shows that by and large the issue was just plain poor offensive line play. You can rightly say that Michael Vick needs to do a better job recognizing blitzes and reacting to them, but if you're starting out with a situation where there's free pass rushers coming with regularity that's the root of the problem.

And constant pressure clearly took its toll on the QB as ESPN points out.

And when Vick was under pressure Sunday, he was terrible. A few plays after Vick's first-quarer interception, he completed a 35-yard pass to DeSean Jackson under duress. From then on, according to ESPN Stats & Information, Vick was under pressure on 18 pass attempts, and did not complete a single pass: 0-for-15 plus a sack and two scrambles. Vick didn't need pressure to make mistakes -- three of his four picks came without heavy pressure -- but overall, Vick had a Total QBR with pressure of just 2.4 (out of 100) as opposed to 57.2 without pressure.

Interestingly enough, Vick had the best QBR in the league last season under pressure, which might support the argument that he was feeling a bit of rust last week. He hasn't always been terrible under pressure and in fact, has sometimes been at his most dangerous.

So can the Ravens bring the same kind of pressure as the Browns? If the Eagles offensive line plays the same as they did last week, sure. Any team can. But the Ravens defense, for as good as they were last week, didn't really bring a lot of pressure. They pressured Andy Dalton just 8 times and while they did get 4 sacks, most came late in the game after Cincy was well out of it. No doubt the absence of defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs played a part in that.

And even if the Eagles' line isn't a lot better, the playcalling can be. Andy/Marty did Michael Vick a double disservice last week as saw a QB and offensive line struggling only to respond with not only more throws overall, but throws based on longer developing patterns. Football Outsiders pointed this out in their film review and in fact blamed Vick's struggles more on the playcalling than even the offensive line or QB himself.

But Vick and his blocking weren't the problems. This isn't to say they weren't sub-par, as Vick obviously made some very poor decisions. And his linemen, particularly on the interior, had a few individual breakdowns. But what stagnated Philly's offense more than anything was the play-calling. Just about every pass play (which there were too many of, by the way) involved slow-developing routes from the outside receivers. The interior routes from the slot and tight ends were also slow-developing and too easily defended. Vick had to spend the first two seconds of his dropback just waiting for routes to unfold.

This would seem just like basic football. If the other team is bringing pressure, utilize three step drops, quick throws, screens etc to counteract it. Or obviously try running the ball, if for no other reason than to just keep the defense honest.

And this week, it would seem to be even more useful for the Eagles to utilize some quick screens or dump offs. As great as Ray Lewis, he's still 37 years old and no longer a match for a guy like LeSean McCoy in space.

Plus, if there was one thing that did work for the Bengals against Baltimore last week, it was the run. They actually out-rushed Baltimore and BenJarvus Green-Ellis did run for 91 yards (5.1 ypc) and a TD. Backup RB Cedric Peerman also had 3 carries for 22 yards.

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