For the first time in 12 years, the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers will face each other without Ben Roethlisberger or Terrell Suggs on the field. Mike Vick is the new face in the next chapter of the intense Ravens/Steelers rivalry. Vick will be called upon to keep the ship going in the right direction while Roethlisberger recovers from his injury last Sunday.
The Ravens are faced with the task of formulating a game plan to stop Vick, a more athletic quarterback than Roethlisberger. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin has repeatedly said that the team will stick to their core offense despite having a new quarterback.
“We’ve got great confidence in him. We are going to run our offense, and we’re going to highlight what he’s comfortable with within our offense and go from there,” Tomlin said. “We’ll take the best game to him, in will-in terms of utilizing what he does best.”
John Harbaugh agrees that the Steelers will run their offense similarly to how it would flow with Roethlisberger. The Raven current quarterbacks coach Marty Mornhinweg was a part of the Philadelphia Eagles staff that helped revitalize Vick’s career. He could be a good source when it comes to finding ways to attack the sudden start. Either way, the game plan will remain the same according to Harbaugh. In his eyes, there isn’t much of a drop-off.
“It’s interesting, a lot of those things compare favorably with what Ben Roethlisberger does. He’s dangerous in the pocket; he’s dangerous out of the pocket – just like Ben is,” Harbaugh said. “So, a lot of those techniques that we’re practicing carry over to a guy like Michael Vick. You prepare for the protections, you prepare for their schemes, and you prepare for Michael Vick running those schemes.”
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees had high praise for Roethlisberger. He called him the best scrambling quarterback in the history of the NFL outside of Fran Tarkenton. Pees explained how it’s important to collapse the pocket against quarterbacks like Vick and Roethlisberger. He also said that the defensive backs have to stay with the receivers that break off their routes when a play breaks down.
“Vick is kind of the same guy but it’s a different kind of guy. This guy gets on the edge, he can outrun everybody – Ben couldn’t. But Ben sees everything downfield and throws, and that’s how he gets all his big plays,” Pees said. “There’s no team in the league that uncovers better as wide receivers than the Pittsburgh Steelers. Those guys have a knack, and it’s always been with Ben. I don’t think it’s going to be any different with Vick. I think we’ve got our hands full with him.”
Roethlisberger acknowledged that Vick is a better runner. He said that the offense will be similar with a few small tweaks to take advantage of Vick’s strengths. This is a sure sign that the pocket will move and Vick will see some boot action.
Vick is happy about getting the chance to play football again. Just over a month ago, he was looking for a job. Not he’s the starter in a prime time football game.
“It’s tough but as a professional you have to find a way to get it done. That’s what you sign up for when you play in this league. We have guys who are very talented and can make a lot of plays.” Vick said. “It’s not for me to try to go out and win the game by myself. I have to eliminate all of the things and plays I’m not comfortable with as of now. We have a ton of them and a ton of good ones.”