Monday, January 6, 2003
Philadelphia's defense has been working in practice against Donovan McNabb to get ready.
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Michael Vick isn't going to surprise the Philadelphia Eagles.
After leading the Atlanta Falcons to a stunning 27-7 road upset over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday, the 22-year-old Vick will bring his elusive moves to Veterans Stadium next Saturday night for an NFC divisional playoff game against the Eagles.
Philadelphia hasn't faced a quarterback with Vick's scrambling ability, but the Eagles' defense should be prepared for him because they are used to playing against Donovan McNabb in practice. Vick and McNabb are the top improvisational quarterbacks in the NFL.
"He's a unique guy," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said of Vick. "No question about it, it's going to be a different challenge. It'll be a little different game plan against him."
Had to wait to see opponent
The two-time NFC East champion Eagles (12-4) had three days off last week after earning the No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs. They divided their time during two practices on preparing for Atlanta, San Francisco and the New York Giants.
In their first postseason appearance since losing the 1998 Super Bowl to Denver, the Falcons (10-6-1) earned a trip to Philadelphia for the second round by becoming the first team to beat the Packers in a playoff game in Wisconsin. The Packers had been 11-0 in Green Bay and 2-0 in Milwaukee.
Vick passed for just 117 yards and one touchdown against Green Bay, but he rushed 10 times for 64 yards, and turned several sure sacks into big plays. During the regular season, Vick threw for 2,936 yards and 16 TDs, and led NFL quarterbacks with 776 yards rushing and had eight TDs on the ground.
"He's a fast guy, he makes things happen," Eagles Pro Bowl defensive end Hugh Douglas said. "At the same time, no man can win a football game by himself. He has to have a supporting cast."
Vick's teammates gave him plenty of support against the Packers. Warrick Dunn, courted by the Eagles in free agency last offseason, ran for 64 yards, T.J. Duckett ran for 45 and Atlanta finished with 192 yards rushing.
Vick can cause problems
Some teams try to defend Vick by designating one player to spy him. But like McNabb, Vick proved this approach doesn't always work because he can beat teams with his arm.
"If you do sit back and spy him too much, he'll sit back there and he's got a good arm," Johnson said. "You've got to get some pressure on this guy, too. It's one of those happy mediums because you can't have a three-man rush and one guy spy because he can throw the football. Some of the best success has been to pressure him, but try to keep him contained. There's a happy medium. He's like any other great running back or great player. He's going to get a few yards scrambling, but you want to keep that to a minimum."
The Eagles haven't played the Falcons since beating them 38-10 at the Vet on Oct. 1, 2000. The overall series is tied 10-10-1, and Atlanta owns the only playoff victory, 14-13 in Atlanta in 1978.