View Full Version : Head to Head: Vick vs. Keisel

10-22-2006, 07:41 AM
Sunday, October 22, 2006
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Offensive coordinators in the National Football League rarely use the option -- a popular scheme in college football -- because the players are faster and will chase down the quarterback and pitch back.

But the Atlanta Falcons have borrowed a play from several college teams, including West Virginia, to take advantage of the unique talents of quarterback Michael Vick. And it will be up to the Steelers to stop it -- and the run-happy Falcons -- when they play in the Georgia Dome today.

It is called the option draw, a play in which Vick sticks the ball in the stomach of running back Warren Dunn while facing the line of scrimmage. He then has the option of handing the ball to Dunn, who is fourth in the NFL with 511 yards rushing, or keeping it and running off the end.

The Falcons used the play frequently and with great success when they rushed for a season-high 306 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And it is one of the reasons Dunn and Vick are the only NFL tandem with more than 400 yards rushing this season.

"It gets him away from the line of scrimmage where he can see things better and make decisions," said Falcons coach Jim Mora Jr. "It's a good wrinkle for us. It's not one of our staples yet."

Mora said college teams such as West Virginia, Texas and Florida also use the option draw, but he would not say where the Falcons came up with the idea to use the play.

West Virginia used the play twice last week and quarterback Patrick White scored on runs of 40 and 32 yards against Syracuse.

"We just plagarize from each other," Mora said. "We're all a bunch of copycats."

The Steelers spent a portion of their film preparation last week getting ready for the option draw, a play they do not see from any other NFL team. What Vick will do with the ball depends on what he sees with the defensive ends, Brett Keisel and Aaron Smith.

If the defensive end is playing a two-gap style and staying on the outside, Vick will give the ball to Dunn, who is cutting across his front. If the defensive end comes down the line to stop the run, Vick will pull the ball from Dunn's stomach and run around the end.

"He's looking to see if the defensive end is crashing down to take away the run or if he's staying outside to stop him on the option," said inside linebacker James Farrior.

Because Vick is left-handed, more of those plays will be directed toward Keisel, who plays the right side.

"He's reading to see if he can scramble out or if it's better to give the ball off," Keisel said. "It's kind of interesting to see that at this level. You don't normally see that."

"It's not that hard of a read, but they do it so effective with [Vick] and Dunn, you're always stuck in a situation where you just got to play football," said cornerback Ike Taylor.

Curiously, the team that did the best job of stopping the Falcons' running game was New Orleans, whose defensive coordinator, Gary Gibbs, was a long-time college coach. The Saints held Atlanta to 117 yards on 23 attempts, the only time this season the Falcons did not rush for more than 200 yards.

"It's a big threat," cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "You have two guys who can gain yards at any time and it makes it very tough on your defense because it takes another guy out of coverage because you're going to have to keep a lot of guys down for that reason. If you have too many guys down, that's when they can really start passing."

10-22-2006, 09:49 AM
i garuntee that dick leabue said only a few words to keisel this week and those words were probably "keep your hands in the air."lol i can see him knocking down 2 passes today.