After injuring his hand Sunday, one week after suffering a concussion, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick vented about officials in the postgame press conference, saying, "More precautions should be taken when I'm inside the pocket. ... I don't know why I don't get the 15-yard flags like everybody else do." Does Vick have a point or was this just frustration talking?
Vick was mad because he hurt his hand and the Eagles lost. He does have a point -- to a degree. By playing the way he does, he exposes himself to hits that other, less adventurous quarterbacks don't. However, his beef was the hits he takes in the pocket and to that point, he's got a legit gripe.
I think because game officials anticipate him escaping tackles or doing something acrobatic to avoid big hits, they don't call penalties on some of the contact he takes. In a way, it's kind of like Shaquille O'Neal in the NBA. Shaq used to get pounded worse than any player in the league but because he was so big, officials shrugged it off, thinking he could withstand the punishment.
Sorry, Mikey, but the defensive players are still allowed to hit you. Don't just take my word for it. Check out a Bears game and see how many shots Jay Cutler takes. Everyone's not as lucky as Tom Brady, who gets to stand in the pocket flatfooted until he finds a wide receiver who strikes his fancy. Besides, hanging in the pocket all day ain't your bag -- you're also a tremendous threat with your legs. On behalf of Andy Reid and Eagles fans everywhere, that's great … but you've gotta expect that defensive players -- who are big, fast and paid handsomely to hit you -- are gonna do their best to stop you from doing so.
I believe Vick's style of play works against him here, and he does have a case. We are so used to seeing him get pounded and play with abandon and take big hits outside the pocket that, at times when he's in the pocket, I wonder if he doesn't get calls others would.
It's almost like everyone watching is accustomed to seeing him take blows, but obviously quarterbacks get special protections, particularly when in the pocket, and I do think a few shots have been missed.
Of course, these things happen very quickly and the calls are often subjective. And, yes, Vick is clearly frustrated and venting here. But there is some merit to his argument as well.
If you ever watched professional wrestling with a critical eye, you will notice that a lot of the times the face (or good guy) often gets away with an extra eye gouge or low blow that will illicit cheers, while the same behavior of the heels (or bad guy) draws the blood-lust ire of the crowd. And if viewed through this medium, it is hard not to notice that players seem to get away with a few extracurricular activities to Vick than they do for other quarterbacks.
Is the reason for this his criminal past or his running ability tainting his perception as a defenseless quarterback? We will probably never know. However, teams are taking extra shots at Vick, there is no disputing that.
Vick is a talented athlete who has offensive line issues. He has always been a quarterback who gets sacked and hit a lot. He likes to take off and run and those tackles also pile up. He has made a concerted effort to be a better pocket passer, but it comes with plenty of hits.
Tarvaris Jackson was sacked four times and hit another 12 times but there weren't any calls against the Cardinals. Sam Bradford was sacked five times and hit 11 times by the Ravens and there were no calls for roughing the passer. The last thing we need is for the officials to try and protect the quarterbacks anymore than they do.
Michael Vick definitely has a point in pointing out the difference in protection that he receives from officials, but he should not have aired those complaints in public. He comes off looking like a whiner, and he won't get added protection by calling out officials in a press conference.
In looking at his complaints, however, he certainly takes a handful of shots each week that would generate flags for the likes of Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. Part of that disparity appears based on his reputation as a run-first quarterback. As a quarterback who excels at fleeing the pocket and making plays in space, he is treated more like a running back and officials have a tough time granting him special consideration within the pocket. Although that isn't the right approach, it is hard to grant Vick the customary privileges of his counterparts when he plays the game in such a different manner.