At this point, it seems likely Landry Jones will start Sunday afternoon over Mike Vick. If for no other reason, the health, or lack of, from Vick.
But if we were to assume Vick was healthy, and wanted to demonstrate a clear reason for Jones over him, we just have to go back to two weeks ago against the San Diego Chargers. It’s something I noticed when coming through the game but with the short week, ran out of time to adequately cover. Since we are still waiting on the Week 6 game film to be released, let’s go through the tape and identify the biggest issue with Vick.
He simply hasn’t grasped enough of the offense, shrinking the playbook down to miniscule size. Let’s break down each of Vick’s passes and see how similar the playcalls were.
1. We’ll breeze through each concept pretty quickly. The first throw comes out of 13 perosnnel. Pull the guard to create a false run key with three verticals downfield.
2. The next came on 3rd and 3. Slot fade to Antonio Brown down the right side.
3. New series. Again out of 13 personnel, playaction – no pulling guard this time – and an eight man max protect with a two man route downfield.
4. Three man route with #2 running vertical and #1 running a quick dig underneath. Split/dig concept.
5. A staple of this offense, a screen with a drag route running across. Creates a two route option for the QB if the defense flocks to the back. Opens up the cross.
6. Next throw is a rub route with the Y tight end creating a rub for the #2 receiver to run a crosser, shaking man coverage.
7. Back to a three vertical concept, this time out of 12 personnel. Not a lot different than play number one, minus the false run key.
8. Following pass is the drag/screen we see in play #5.
9. The next is similar to #4. The #2 receiver vertical with the #1 running a quick dig. Only difference is releasing the TE to run the out instead of keeping him into block. Not part of the initial read, however.
10. The exact same concept as #6. Rub route to free up #2, Antonio Brown on the crosser. Vick throws the comeback instead.
11. Finally, a different look. Three vertical concept with the tight end and running back check/releasing underneath. Divide route between the receivers to the top of the screen. #2 to the field with #1 to the sideline.
12. Identical to the first. Fake the run with the pulling guard, three verts downfield.
13. The same as #11. Divide route to the two man side, vertical to the solo side.
14. And then we finally end with a new look. Almost a smash concept to the bottom with a stick route and vertical pairing to the top.
I kept it simple for brevity and to draw to my larger point. By my count, that is only seven different concepts in 14 plays. They ran their vertical offense out of a heavy look four times, pulling the guard twice. They ran the split/dig twice, the divide route twice, the Y rub twice, and the drag/screen twice. And that’s just in the first half. The Steelers took their playbook and shrunk it down to in essence, five different plays.
I don’t know what the first half of Sunday’s game was like for Vick or the second half for Landry Jones. But five plays is unacceptable in a veteran’s second start with an 11 day layoff. Even if there is a “decision,” in that Vick is deemed healthy enough to play, there is no decision. The pure freedom Jones gives this offense is reason enough to start him.