The Michael Vick experience (remember that?) is coming to Sun Life Stadium Sunday and that usually means the defense should be watching a lot of film on the Philadelphia quarterback and dub it, "The spy who loved me."
Vick, you see, is the classic case for a defense using a spy. A spy is a player that is almost solely responsible to getting after an opposing player. It was a popular tool for defenses in the 1990s and today I asked Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan if its too old school to use against Vick.
"It's used quite a bit," Nolan said. "As a matter of fact, last year in the Super Bowl, No. 52 for Green Bay was spying Ben Roethlisberger. So if it's a guy like Michael Vick or a guy like Roethlisberger, any guy who's running to keep plays alive, they do it different ways, but it's not old hat by any stretch."
Well, now that we've established that spying Vick is not old fashioned, how is it done?
"A lot of people try to use it on Vick," Nolan said. "In most every game you'll see people do it with a three-man rush, a four-man rush, with a spy, without a spy, a five-man rush. Typically when teams bring five or more there's no one spying but that's not 100 percent true. Most of the time they put everybody to him and hope all the gaps are filled to keep him in there."
The trouble with that, of course, is Vick is so fast and athletic, he can still leak out the back door where there is no gap. So of course, the Dolphins will spy Vick, right?
Not so fast. They might do it some. But all the time creates problems in that it takes somebody out of coverage, which takes away the defense's ability to double somebody. Of course, going too far the other direction -- as in never spying Vick -- has negative ramifications also because he will see that as an opportunity to start running more.
Perhaps the fact Vick is recovering from broken ribs might lessen that worry. But Vick would almost definitely recognize the plan and counter
"That's one thing he does recognize very well,' Nolan said. "If he sees everyone's back turned and sees things opening up, he'll take it out of there. that's why a spy is pretty handy against him."
Spy Vick. But not every down. Make him have to look for a spy. Make him have to guess which down the Dolphins use a spy and when they do not. If it creates even a little doubt in his mind, it's good because you have slowed down Vick, you've forced him to worry about yet one more thing that many quarterbacks don't have to worry about.
We'll see Sunday.