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Hype is getting a bit ri-Vick-ulous

If the Giants’ turnover woes made Tom Coughlin queasy last week, then preparing for Michael Vick — or St. Michael as he’s been so widely anointed this past week — may give the Giants’ coach downright heartburn. 


If the Giants’ turnover woes made Tom Coughlin queasy last week, then preparing for Michael Vick — or St. Michael as he’s been so widely anointed this past week — may give the Giants’ coach downright heartburn.

“I got indigestion, a stomach ache [after] I watched the first half,” Coughlin jokingly said about watching Vick’s six touchdown game on Monday night. “Let’s see, 35-0, 12 plays for Washington. Just what everybody else was doing. [Then I] put the pencil down and become a fan.”

Andy Reid might be Vick’s biggest fan. And the Philadelphia coach said the man who was only running the wildcat last season is just beginning to scratch the surface of his playbook.

“You know what, he has a few things he has to work on,” said Reid. “I’m proud of him for playing well [but] there are some of things we have to get worked out but he’s all right.”

An all right pass rush won’t be acceptable if the Giants (6-3) hope to take control of first place in the NFC East. They haven’t recorded a sack in the past two games, but that could very well turnaround Sunday night in Philadelphia. Sure, Vick is playing at a high level and leads the NFL with a 115.1 passer rating, but he has yet to beat a defense ranked in the top half of the league.

Coughlin wasn’t buying into the Vick-for-MVP hype just yet and scoffed when asked about Vick’s turnover-less season, saying it’s “misleading.” Members of his top-ranked defense weren’t backing the Vick bandwagon, either.

“No, I don’t think it intimidates anybody,” linebacker Michael Boley said of Vick’s historic Monday night performance. “We want your best, and that’s like a boxer. You don’t want a guy who comes in and is sluggish and doesn’t want to fight. What’s the point?”

Boley and Co. are preparing for both Vick's legs and his arms.

“You have to obviously try to contain and keep him inside and not let him outside,” said Coughlin. “There’s all kinds of strategic things that you say you can do and you must do but you have to time it up with the right circumstances, the right play, the right situation.”

Coughlin added that what has really made defending Vick tougher than in years past is Philly’s offensive schemes.

“They’re an excellent screen team. They rush the ball, they rush the ball with him, they run the nakeds [bootleg], and they break perimeter,” Coughlin said. “They do a lot of things that if you think you have a handle on how you’re going to be able to have some containment on him, they find a way – he finds a way – to break it down.

“They’re averaging 150 yards a game rushing -- and he has about 29% of that yardage. They run a lot of reverses and things of that nature with the wide receivers, that takes up another segment of their rush game,” Coughlin said. “He [Vick] is a threat to come out of there [the pocket]. There’s no denying that it buys time down the field, extends the play, forces you to stay in coverage longer. And of course, when they get involved with [wideout DeSean] Jackson, they’re trying to run through the coverage, max protect, and throw it up as far as they can down the field.”

Long known as a freelancer and someone who’d only read through his first progression and take off downfield if his first option wasn’t open, Vick has turned into an efficient pocket passer. He leads the league in passing efficiency with staggering numbers [1,350 yards passing, 11 touchdowns, and no interceptions].

Vick acknowledge he’s done a 180-degree turn as a quarterback and marveled at how well his coaching staff has gotten him familiar with the West Coast offense.

“I think it’s obvious to see that I’m pass first, run second. I do a good job of taking what the defense gives me and not making the game hard,” Vick said. “They’ve [coaches] helped me develop an understanding of the West Coast system, as far as patterns and footwork is concerned, and knowing when the ball has to be out.”

Coughlin agreed to a point, saying he was impressed with Vick’s maturity in the pocket.

“He’s going to want to throw the ball if a pass is called as the first choice and then if it’s pressure or if he sees something, then he will pull it down [and run],” said Coughlin when asked if he sees more patience in Vick.

Coughlin said Vick’s rebirth has been a perfect storm of the Eagles organization wanting to take a chance on the embattled quarterback and the player rededicating himself to the sport.

“He’s been patient and the Eagles have been patient. There’s been no rush with him going into the game or having to play,” said Coughlin. “Maybe they started the year off thinking they were going to use him the same way they did a year ago and then because he flourished when he played, it made them make some other choices. I just think that he’s an excellent athlete and has become the exceptional quarterback that he was prior to this.”

Verbal bouquets aside, Coughlin sternly said the Big Blue pass rush won’t sit back and watch Vick go wild. He added he has no intentions of asking defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to scale back the pass-rush gameplan out of fear for Vick’s jaunts.

“No [but] it depends on how you’re going to rush,” Coughlin said. “You certainly aren’t going to rein them in, you’re going to fill in some calculated ability to keep track of him or force him to one spot if we can.”

 
 
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