There’s one weakness I see on the Eagles defense and it involves the team’s linebackers and their run defense. Teams are going to be confident in throwing the ball against a secondary which boasts three Pro Bowl cornerbacks, but they’re licking their chops to run the ball against a defense led by a rookie middle linebacker.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin talked about wanting to see his young running backs run the football effectively, so you know what you can expect tonight. The Birds are going to get a major dose of the Steelers running game and Andy Reid and Juan Castillo need to thank Tomlin and his squad for the test.
The Birds have a new defensive system for stopping the run. The defensive linemen play the run on the way to the passer rather than sitting on the line of scrimmage and reading the blocking scheme.
The Eagles defensive line won’t be trying to keep linemen off of the linebackers like they have in the past, nor will the defensive linemen be concentrating on reading the blocking scheme. They’ll be focused on creating mayhem. If the offensive lineman in front of them blocks down, they will close but other than that they’re getting upfield at the snap of the ball and destroying anything in front of them.
The key for the D-line will be getting off on the ball and getting penetration into the offensive backfield any way they can. We should get a good look at middle linebacker Casey Matthews tonight because the first team defense will play a half of football. He’s got to show us that he can deal with the size of NFL offensive linemen.
Will he get pushed around or can he stand up against the huge offensive lineman in the NFL? Is he strong enough to pound an offensive lineman or will he have trouble getting off of blocks? I’m glad they’re playing the Steelers so we can see whether Matthews and our run defense are good enough.
I want to see him violently get free from the offensive linemen when they try to hold him because that’s what offensive linemen do to a small middle linebacker like Matthews. These big guys have vise-like grips, so it takes some serious effort to get free from them. You have to walk on the field with nothing but violence on your mind. I want to see him stand out.
I want to see Matthews lay some good licks on a couple of running backs. He needs to earn his stripes. He won’t be able to really lead aggressively in the huddle until he shows his teammates that he can make plays on this level. When the players watch the video, they’ll be check out the rookie to see if he can do the job. I’d love to see him earn some stripes tonight because that will be a weight off of his back.
The attacking strategy is good for getting stops in the backfield, but at times you can get up big runs when a runner splits the rushing linemen and the linebackers get blocked. The backers must use their quickness and tenacity to get off blocks in these situations to eliminate big plays.
The outside linebackers Jamar Chaney and Moise Fokou will be tested as well. Chaney is not a concern for me against the run, but I want to see how he does when asked to cover these tight ends.They’ll have to avoid offensive blockers, work through the “trash” and get to the football.
If the defensive line can get penetration, they’ll destroy the timing and blocking scheme of the play. The linebackers will benefit from it.
After listening to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, I think the Birds are going to get a big dose of second-year Pittsburgh running back Jonathan Dwyer. “I didn’t see enough of him, quite frankly, due to circumstance,” Tomlin said. “We were behind. I’m definitely interested in giving him more looks, not only Thursday night, but in the remainder of the preseason and give him an opportunity to make an account of what he’s capable of.”
So this game will be Steelers vs. Eagles, but the undercard will Matthews vs. Dwyer.