No, I'm not calling the Bears dummies. Just a poor attempt at a clever title on my part. Anyways, where was I? Oh yes, how to beat Michael Vick. Well, it's pretty simple really. The blueprint has already been drawn; It's just, few teams have been able to successfully read and execute it to exacting specifications. So, in an effort to help the Bears out, I've simplified the plan into five easy-to-understand steps. As if I'm qualified to do so... You can take it or leave it, but if you want to beat Mike Vick, you must listen carefully and do exactly as I say:
Step number 1: Pressure Vick out of the pocket, preferably to his right.
In case you've been hiding under a rock, in prison, or you are just a girl and don't pay attention to these things, Michael Vick is a lefty. When he's pressured to his right, he's more likely to run the ball than look to his receivers for help. And that's when Lance Briggs will proceed to knock Vick into next Sunday, hopefully. The Bears defense is fast, and they'll need to be in order to get to Vick. But, why do we need to get him out of the pocket? Well, against the Giants he was 23 of 36 attempts for 261 yards from the pocket. He was 1 of 2 for -3 yards out. Enough said.
Step number 2: Blitz your brains out.
The Giants gave the NFL world a glimpse at how to shut down a quarterback who looked to be lighting the world on metaphorical fire. Against the Giants blitz, Vick failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time all season. He turned the ball over for the first time this year and averaged just 6.8 yards per attempt. He was 6-for-15 (40 percent) for 56 yards when blitzed. He was 18-for-23 (78.3 percent) for 202 yards when he was not blitzed. Lovie, can we please see some blitz packages this Sunday??? Just sayin...
Step number 3: Defend the deep pass.
Here are some of Vick's numbers against the Giants: 93% accuracy on short passes, 41% accuracy on mid-range passes and 66% accuracy on deep throws. Why is this significant? Because, you're not going to stress the short passes in the Tampa 2 and the Bears' top-notch linebackers can handle the mid-range throws all day long. But the deep pass... that's where the Bears secondary could be exposed. Now, a good thing for the Bears is that the Tampa 2 is designed to prevent the deep ball. But, they're cornerbacks and safeties have been taken advantage of on more than one occasion this season.
Step number 4: Play opportunistic defense.
As Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune - among many others - referenced recently, KC Joyner of ESPN.com did a piece showing just how 'on-the-edge' Vick has been playing recently. Here is an excerpt:
Analysis shows (Vick) as having made 12 bad decisions in 202 dropbacks. That equates to a 5.9 percent bad-decision rate. That means one out of every 17 passes Vick has thrown this season have been unnecessarily risk-laden.
To put that total into perspective, consider that Chicago Bears fans were almost ready to run Jay Cutler out of town last season in large part because of his risk-taking, and he posted a bad-decision rate of 3.4 percent. Vick's current rate is nearly 75 percent higher.
The Bears defense will have to force Vick into finally making some of those mistakes he's so close to committing. And that shouldn't be an issue for a team who is atop the NFL in take-aways.
Step number 5: Shake Vick's confidence.
The Eagles offensive line is ranked 27th in the NFL (statistically), and has allowed 28 sacks and 66 hits on their quarterback this season. Now, I realize this is better than the Bears o-line has been, so I'm not going to pick on them for it, but it's fair to point this out as something the Bears' defense needs to take advantage of. The Eagles will certainly be looking to do the same. Mike Vick is more than just an above average quarterback, he's an extremely confidant player, and he's playing that way now. A couple hits from the Bears two biggest Grizzlies - Peppers and Idonije - could rattle that confidence just enough to force him into making costly mistakes. Michael Vick, who used to play against Julius Peppers every year when he was in Atlanta, said he has "always" tried to avoid number 90.
And there you have it Bears. Stop the juggernaut that is Michael Vick, and the keys to the kingdom shall be yours. Ok, maybe not... But it should at least hold the national media criticism at bay for another week or two.