EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — Watching Michael Vick put on a show on national television caused a variety of reactions from the New York Giants.
Coach Tom Coughlin got indigestion. Defensive tackle Barry Cofield had the feeling he was seeing one of the most unique players in the game. Former Falcons teammate and linebacker Michael Boley felt the dynamic Philadelphia Eagles quarterback was finally living up to his potential.
There was another general feeling among the Giants (6-3) on Wednesday. They either must be at their best on Sunday night in Philadelphia or the Eagles (6-3) are going to make them look foolish in what has become the battle for first place in the NFC East.
The normally straight-laced Coughlin even wondered whether his team would be allowed to use 12 players on defense for a couple of plays.
“I think the officials can give us one of those based on last week, maybe,” Coughlin said, referring to the Eagles’ 59-28 win over the Washington Redskins in which Vick threw for four touchdowns and ran for two.
Vick rushed 10 times for 80 yards, threw for 333 more and led the Eagles to a franchise-record 592 yards in total offense.
Coughlin said it was hard to watch the game as a coach, noting the Eagles led 35-0 early in the second quarter and Washington had owned the ball for 12 plays.
At that point, he “put the pencil down and become a fan.”
Cofield said the 30-year-old Vick showed excellent pocket presence, great touch with his passes, and that ability to make something out of nothing when things break down.
“He is just a dynamic player,” Cofield said. “He is really unlike anything we have seen at the position. When he is throwing the ball like he is now, I think he is the biggest weapon in the league.”
Cofield said stopping the Eagles starts with stopping all the non-Vick running plays and trying to make him one-dimensional.
The problem is that Vick is so fast the defense cannot simulate his speed in practice. The Eagles also do a great job of max-protecting for their quarterback, allowing DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant to get down the field, and, if they don’t get open, there is always the little pass to halfback LeSean McCoy.
And if all that fails, Vick can just run.
“It’s a task,” Cofield said. “No matter how disciplined you are, you still have to get him to the ground. He is an exceptional athlete, so you have to work together. Everyone has to run to the play and everyone has to play every play through the whistle.”
Boley played the 2006 season and the following preseason with Vick in Atlanta before the quarterback was suspended by the NFL after pleading guilty in federal court for his role in a dog fighting ring. Vick spent 18 months in prison.
Boley sees a better quarterback. As a youngster, Vick would run without really going through his passing progressions. Now Boley says he has more patience and will sit in the pocket and throw the ball down the field.
The linebacker even joked that Vick seems faster than a couple of years ago, and he runs better, too.
“There is nothing like it at the quarterback position,” Boley said of Vick’s speed. “I even said even after he got in the trouble he got in, after being out that long, he was such a better athlete than most quarterbacks in the league that the bar is still pretty high for him.”
Boley called Vick’s performance on Monday impressive.
“I think he showed everyone his full potential the other night,” Boley said.
Safety Antrel Rolle said the Giants are going to be ready and “have their swagger” for Vick and company Sunday night despite having their worst defensive game of the season in a 33-20 loss to the Cowboys.
“There is no fear,” Rolle said. “I never had a fear of playing this game. Some teams, it’s just going to be their day. It was their day and they did an outstanding job. But in that game, they were playing Washington. You can’t grade another team on how they go against another opponent.”
Fellow safety Deon Grant insisted the Eagles’ performance was not going to intimidate the defense.
“Growing up, we were always the ones who were taught we have to bring the intimidation,” Grant of the defense. “So when the offense intimidates a defense, you have problems.”
Like most Giants, Boley said he was glad to see Vick make it big again.
“He was riding high, he was the face of the franchise, a lot on his shoulders,” Boley said. “To go from that to the bottom of the barrel, it will put you in a different place and make you look at things in a different aspect.”
Boley also believes Vick has won over some of his former detractors.
“Why wouldn’t you believe in him,” Boley added. “For a guy to come back after what he has been through and prove to everybody that he is more than just a runner, what more do you want from him?”
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)