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Friday, April 20, 2018

Mike Vick, Josh Freeman Match ’10 Interception Totals After Only Five Games

The team that wins the turnover battle in football tends to win the game more often than not. One of the main reasons the Eagles and Bucs had so much success last season (both were 10-6) is because they had an excellent turnover margin (+0.6 per game, tied for fourth in the NFL). Josh Freeman, in only his second year in the NFL, threw 25 touchdown passes and only six intereptions. Michael Vick posted the best touchdown-to-interception ratio of his career, throwing for 21 touchdowns and six picks. What’s shocking, is that it only took five games for each player to match his interception total from the previous year, and in Vick’s case surpass it.

Vick was intercepted a career-high four times Sunday in Buffalo. The Eagles are so explosive that they nearly won the game despite the picks, but Jason Avant’s fumble in the third quarter took away a needed scoring chance. Vick has now been intercepted seven times in five games, surpassing the six picks he threw in 12 games last year. He’s also lost three fumbles, bringing his turnover total to an unacceptable 10 in five games. It’s not Vick’s accuracy that’s lacking this season, but rather his pocket presence.

Vick’s three fumbles have come on hits, and three of his four picks against the Bills were the result of throwing the ball as he was being hit. He either needs to recognize the pressure earlier to avoid the rush, throw the ball away, or just pull it down and take a sack. Throwing while he’s being hit is clearly a bad recipe for the Eagles. They’re last in the NFL in turnover margin and it’s killing them. If they eliminate the turnovers, they’ll start winning games.

Josh Freeman, meanwhile, lacks all the impressive accuracy and care-taking ability he displayed a year ago. He fails to move the chains consistently, and Sunday marked his second zero touchdown/two interception game of the year. He only had one multi-interception game a year ago, and he balanced that one out with two touchdown passes.

Each player had a spectacular season last year, so it’s not a huge surprise that they’ve failed to match their efforts. Maybe we should be surprised that they played as impressively as they did a year ago, because we’re seeing how difficult it is to play turnover-free football.

To reiterate how critical turnovers are, the top five teams in turnover margin this season are: Buffalo (+11), San Francisco (+10), Detroit (+8), Baltimore (+7), and Green Bay (+7). Those teams have a combined record of 20-3.

Turnovers are a killer in the NFL, and they’re the biggest reason the Eagles are 1-4 instead of 4-1.

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