Vick, Schmick. Stopping McCoy Keys Packers' HopesPosted:Jan 6th, 2011 3:09 pm
Yes, I know. The rebirth of Michael Vick is complete. He will be the MVP runner-up and cash in this offseason or next and will be able to pay off all his debts. Under Andy Reid's tutelage he has become the QB everyone thought he could be and he's the most dangerous two-way signal caller in league history. I get it.
But if the Packers are going to get past the Eagles on Sunday, it will be because they kept LeSean McCoy in check. Run defense has not been the Pack's forte this season. In fact, if Forte had been used a bit more by Mike Martz last weekend the Packers' season might be over. While Reid is running the ball less than usual, he has a dangerous weapon in the second year man out of Pitt. He's like a young Brian Westbrook, just waiting to burst on the national scene.
McCoy is an elusive, shifty back than can bust any play into a big one. And where he's really dangerous is in the screen game--he caught 78 passes this season and when he's out in space he's tough to bring down.
Dom Capers will present Vick and the Eagles offense a multitude of looks, moving guys around and bringing heat early and often. But if McCoy is able to provide a credible running attack, the dependence on Vick will lessen, making him more dangerous. Clay Matthews has already announced the Pack will keep a spy on Vick all the time. That's not surprising, but it means somebody will be uncovered and if the pass rush does its thing, Vick will make a habit of dumping the ball to McCoy. How the Packers handle those plays may be the key to the game.
On the other side of the ball, Green Bay has a significant edge. Rodgers is hot and the Eagles D has surrendered 30 touchdown passes and ranks 32nd and last in the red zone. They have one good corner in Asante Samuel; after him it gets ugly with Dimitri Patterson, who may be replaced by Josello Hanson. Barring mistakes, the Packers offense should be able to put 27 points on the board.
As good as Vick has been this season, he's not trending well. In his last two starts, the Giants had him completely baffled for 3 1/2 quarters and the mediocre Vikings made him look scared and lost. He says he will be 100% healed from a quad injury suffered in the Minnesota game. Expect the Pack to test him early to see if he's moving the way he did most of the year.
He's a remarkable athlete and has had a terrific season but he's definitely slowing down. He didn't throw his first pick in his first 211 passes, but has thrown six in his last 161. Reid knows this. That's why McCoy will figure heavily into Sunday's game plan.
And why stopping him will be paramount if the Packers want a rematch with the Falcons.