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Vick Learns To Hold Football At Age 32

In a recent radio interview, Michael Vick insisted that he has long known how to read defenses, but that Chip Kelly just taught him how to properly carry a football outside the pocket:

“The other day, I broke out in the pocket, and the first thing Chip told me was to tuck the football,” Vick said. “So I showed him how I was running with it, and he looked at it and he knocked the ball right out of my hands. And he was like, ‘Hold it like this.’ And what he told me felt comfortable. I had a tighter grip on the football. That should secure that problem as long as I work on it.”

Vick lost 5 fumbles in 10 games last season, so he must find a way to take better care of the ball. Some fans are incredulous that a 12-year veteran does not know how to hold a football, but there is not one universal grip. Different coaches teach their players how to carry the ball differently, and variation in grip is also common between position groups. For example, Jason Witten uses an ‘eagle claw’ grip high and across his chest. It protects the football better at the expense of some speed, but he’s not an explosive run-after-catch player anyway. Most backs and receivers tuck the ball under the sideline-facing pec in a lower, looser, more comfortable grip. Still, Vick has had ample time to choose and perfect a grip that works for him.

Vick also took offense to a question that criticized his ability to read defenses. While he’s clearly not surgical in picking apart defenses a la Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, the NFL game is too complex for players to be on the field without understanding what they’re doing, especially at the quarterback position. Vick makes too many poor decisions, but he doesn’t run around like a chicken with its head cut off like some fans make him seem. NFL quarterbacks cannot skate by on their physical talent, and that includes Vick. He’s not the only phenomenal athlete in the league, and he has done plenty of things right in his career.

Vick doesn’t always know what to say to the media or what read to make on the field, but much of the criticism he faces is unwarranted. The dog fighting incident made him a target, and the additions of high-profile free agents in 2011 thrust him further into the spotlight. As the Eagles failed, he shouldered a considerable amount of the blame. Some of it was justified. Vick is no more than an average starting quarterback, but keep in mind that many analysts and fans are overly harsh on him.

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