There were a lot of people concerned about Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick heading into last Sunday's game with the Giants -- understandably so.
Vick had turned it over nine times in three games, six of those picks. But he didn't turn it over against the Giants and the Eagles won. Vick stayed in the pocket and let things develop. He wasn't running just for the sake of running.
His 19-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson showed what Vick is capable of doing when he is protected.
The Eagles faced a third-and-10 at the New York 19. The Giants showed a single-safety look with man-coverage on receivers Jeremy Maclin (blue circle) and Jackson (yellow circle) in the slot. Jackson ran a post-corner, while Maclin ran a post to help put pressure on the safety.
The key to the play was Vick's eye maneuvering. At the snap, he knew he had single-high safety in Antrel Rolle (red circle). So Vick looked him off to the middle of the field, which had Rolle take a step to his left, and that seemed to freeze him for a second. At the time, Jackson was beating Corey Webster, who was in trail coverage by then.
With Jackson snapping off his route, and Rolle already scrambling to get back into the play, Vick turned his head and threw an easy touchdown pass flat-footed to a wide-open Jackson. It's that type of play that has to give the Eagles hope for Vick the rest of the way.
San Francisco solves the read-option
The read-option is a gimmick offense that helped make Tim Tebow a cult figure.
It's also being figured out -- in a big way -- especially with Tebow running it.
The San Francisco 49ers had a great plan for Tebow and his read-option last week as illustrated by the pictures to follow.
Here was Tebow on a first-and-10 from the San Francisco 42. As Tebow took the snap in the shotgun, his first move was to either fake it or hand it off to Shonn Greene. As you can see from the picture, defensive end Justin Smith (yellow circle) is crashing down hard to take away Greene. That forced Tebow to pull the ball out. Patrick Willis, in the blue circle, is scraping behind Smith, while Aldon Smith (red circle) is holding the edge as he engages D'Brickashaw Ferguson.
In the final frame, you can see that the 49ers forced Tebow wide and Smith, who defeated the block of Ferguson, was able to drop him for a 2-yard loss. The 49ers were ready for the Tebow gimmick. The rest of the NFL will be, too.
The anatomy of a long pass usually means the offensive line did its job. And the Bengals did that and more when Andy Dalton hit A.J. Green on a 42-yard throw last week to set up a touchdown. Take a look at these shots below. You will know why the Jaguars have just two sacks on the season.
In the first shot, you can see all four rushers are blocked and Dalton has a nice cone around him. In the second shot, the high-above look, you can see Dalton is still protected as Green streaks by Rashean Mathis. It takes time to make that kind of throw and the Bengals line is the reason Dalton could do it. They are better than most think.
Denver's defense mixes it up
One of the things I liked when I watched the Broncos-Raiders game was the number of different looks the Broncos gave to Carson Palmer. Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio did some interesting things.
Here are a couple of shots from a blitz they used in the third quarter. If you notice in the first picture below, all of the Broncos defenders in the box are standing up. There are no down linemen. That seemed to confuse the Raiders some. In the second pic, you can see some of the box defenders dropping out with corner Champ Bailey (red circle) coming on a blitz. That forced Palmer to throw early and incomplete.
Anatomy of an interception
Chargers safety Eric Weddle got the best of Matt Cassel on the play illustrated below, which ended with a pick for Weddle. As you can see from the first picture, Weddle (yellow circle) appears to be playing the middle of the field in a three-over, three under coverage. That would mean he would normally take the tight end (Tony Moeaki) down the middle of the field. But with linebacker Takeo Spikes dropping under and safety Atari Bigby rolling to the middle of the field, Moeaki (black line) was bracketed. So Weddle did the smart thing and slipped underneath Cassel's throw to wide receiver Dwayne Bowe for the pick. It was a heck of a heady play by a darn good player.
For more film room breakdowns by Pete Prisco, check out his weekly column, After Further Review. This week he breaks down the Patriots-Bills game.