- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eleven months ago, Michael Vick shredded the Washington Redskins‘ defense like a cheat code-boosted quarterback in a video game.

Even by video game standards the Philadelphia Eagles‘ quarterback’s numbers were absurd: 333 yards passing, 80 more on the ground and six total touchdowns in the 59-28 humiliation of the Redskins on Monday Night Football.

Almost a year later, Vick’s body is battered. This season, he’s already suffered a concussion and a severely bruised right hand. He’s turning the ball over at the same pace - four interceptions last week against the Buffalo Bills - he used to make would-be tacklers grab armfuls of air.

But the video game ability remains for Sunday’s rematch.

“I hate it,” Redskins outside linebacker Brian Orakpo said of facing Vick. “I hate it.”

Coach Mike Shanahan was so “embarrassed” he won’t re-watch film of the game he described as a “bad taste.”

Defensive end Adam Carriker tried to put the game behind him. Every time he looked up, Carriker recalled, the Eagles seemed to be scoring.

“It’s gone,” he said, “but not completely forgotten.”

And Orakpo doesn’t like to talk much about the debacle that unfolded.

“You do a good move and get past an [offensive lineman] and all of a sudden he’s breaking tackles and running 30 yards down the field,” Orakpo said. “It gets frustrating.”

But these are different teams, with the once-vaunted Eagles stumbling to a 1-4 start. And the Redskins‘ defense ranks sixth in the NFL, allowing 296.5 yards per game. Vick, by comparison, accounted for 413 yards in the Monday night game.

But Vick, as always, presents a new test. The four quarterbacks the Redskins have faced this season - Eli Manning, Kevin Kolb, Tony Romo and Sam Bradford - aren’t known for making plays with their legs. They live in the pocket, a place Vick can escape in the time it takes to sneeze.

“You’ve got to keep him in your line of sight, your vision,” Carriker said, “or he can go 40 yards in the blink of an eye.”

The secret to slowing Vick, Orakpo believes, starts with properly handling adversity. Accept that Vick - averaging a career-best 8.6 yards per carry - is going to break lose on a handful of runs.

You can’t give up on the pass rush in an attempt to stop the scrambles, Carriker advises, or Vick will pick apart the defense with his left arm.

Orakpo thinks the defense needs to stay on the same page when rushing Vick; missed assignments or miscommunication opens running lanes for easy gains. Try and keep him in the pocket. If you want to force him inside, make sure there’s a man to cover the lane. Don’t be rattled if it collapses and Vick wriggles out of trouble.

Vick is far from invincible; he’s taken several hard shots this season and fumbled seven times.

Another complication, however, comes from the Eagles‘ struggles. Defensive tackle Lorenzo Alexander expects Vick’s antics to be accompanied by the fakes, trick plays and aggressive calls on fourth down of a desperate team.

Rookie defensive tackle Chris Neild hasn’t faced a quarterback quite like Vick before. But he made the defense’s task sound simple.

“It’s just a matter of containing him,” Neild said.

The reality is more complicated.

“You hate when a quarterback knows how to scramble and make huge gains down the field when the play breaks down,” Orakpo said. “This is important to get that taste out of our mouth.”

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