You normally have to wait until the regular season before a Michael Vick injury prompts the same old questions. Why did that happen? Who's to blame? How can it be fixed? But the preseason has delivered us an early opportunity to dive into this seemingly annual issue after Vick took a huge hit from New England Patriots LB Jermaine Cunningham during the Eagles' second game. That hit effectively ended Vick's preseason and though x-rays came back negative, the injury question continues to loom large for Vick, who has only played 72 percent of regular-season snaps the past two years.
While we can't predict the future or whether he could be injured again -- despite the boastings of his flak jacket maker -- we can try to assess where the fault for this lies. Exactly why does Vick get hit so much more often than other QBs?
The Offensive Line
Elementary school logic tells us that when a quarterback is getting hit a lot, it's because his offensive line is letting a lot of pressure get to him. The numbers initially seem to bear this out, with Vick facing the third-highest amount of pressure per play during the regular season.
So a slam dunk case, right? The offensive line must be to blame, thus the Eagles need to fix the line to protect Vick.
Not so. In fact, when I published the Pro Football Focus 2011-12 offensive line rankings the Eagles' line came in 12th overall with their pass-blocking. That ranking was earned after we watched and graded that unit on every play. And while it gave up more pressure (162 combined sacks, hits and hurries) than 20 NFL teams, there is another element to consider before we lay any blame at the feet of the Philly linemen.