Eagles-Lions Pregame ThoughtsBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Saturday, October 13th, 2012
This may be the most important game of the year for Michael Vick. Many people (myself not included) had high expectations for the quarterback before the season began, but so far he’s been a major disappointment.
While Vick has played well in big moments (finishing game-winning drives against the Browns, Ravens, and Giants), he’s also cost the team greatly in both of their losses, and has been a turnover machine throughout the season.
Vick’s positive moments are completely overshadowed by his negative ones. It’s very important that he come out and play a strong game against the Lions on Sunday. That means he’s got to do more than just manage the game and avoid turnovers, he needs to lead this offense to a large scoring output with multiple touchdown drives.
The Eagles offense has scored the second fewest amount of points in the league so far, and their offense hasn’t shown any reasons to keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night. The quarterback has been a lock to provide multiple takeaway opportunities in every game, the running game hasn’t been as dynamic due to injuries on the offensive line, and Vick has been unable to connect with his speedy receivers on the big deep passes that had been a staple of this team for the last four seasons.
A lot of this can change if Vick can prove that he can still be a dynamic offensive threat. A great game from the former Falcon will force his doubters to accept him as the team’s best chance to win for the remainder of the season, but another painful performance with inexcusable mistakes and turnovers may be enough to get Andy Reid to think long and hard about making a change at quarterback over the team’s bye week.
It’s Time For Juan Castillo To Take Another Step Forward
I give Juan Castillo his fair share of credit for how the defense has performed through the first five games.
The group looks much more stable than they were a year ago. They seem to gave figured out to how to play a wide-nine front without getting gashed horribly in the running game. Castillo has learned from some of the mistakes of his rough first season on the job, but now he’s got to go another step further.
Last week Castillo’s defensive playcalling was one of the reasons that the Eagles fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Although Juan was able to help the defense hold the Steelers to just 16 points on the day, he was much too passive on the final drive of the game. Castillo tried to play not to lose, but his play-it-safe approach of rushing only four lineman and dropping everyone else into zone coverage got him into trouble.
Castillo needs to realize when the right times to be aggressive are. His front four had been unable to get to Ben Roethlisberger throughout the game last week, and he needs to understand that his wide-nine front isn’t an unstoppable pass rush, and that a healthy dose of blitzes could really aid in its effectiveness.
How The Lions Can Beat The Eagles
The Detroit Lions have all of the tools that they need to come into Philadelphia and upset the Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson has gotten off to a bit of a slow start this season, but if the Lions follow the gameplan that the Arizona Cardinals had for Larry Fitzgerald against the Eagles, then their big target could finally bust out with a huge game.
Tight end Brandon Pettigrew has been off to a slow start this year, and will need to work the middle of the field well to give Matt Stafford a solid second option to go to if the Eagles attempt to double-team Johnson.
Running back Mikel Leshoure will need to bounce back from a poor effort against he Vikings and give the Lions the offensive balance that they need to keep the Eagles from focusing exclusively on the pass. Leshoure has shown that he can be an explosive weapon, but he needs to prove that he can do it consistently.
The Lions have had an extra week to scheme up a good way to attack this defense, and this frustrated 1-3 team will be out to prove that they are still a playoff contender in the NFC.
Why The Eagles Will Win
The Eagles have some good matchups that they can take advantage of this week.
The Lions don’t have a very good secondary. The Eagles have been struggling to get their downfield plays going this year, and this could finally be the week that they break out.
LeSean McCoy also hasn’t had a real dominating performance yet this season. He’s been very good, but we’ve yet to see a true breakout effort from him. The Lions defense isn’t strong against the run either, and the door will be open for Shady to have a big day, if Andy Reid elects to put the ball in his hands.
Defensively, I believe the Eagles will learn from their mistakes against Larry Fitzgerald, and come up with a solid gameplan to limit the damage that Calvin Johnson can do. Quarterback Matt Stafford hasn’t been having a great year, and the Eagles may be able to force him into a couple of turnovers, something they weren’t able to accomplish against Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger in recent weeks.
A lot of people say that this is a bad spot for the Eagles. The Lions enter the game fresh off of their bye with a lot to prove at 1-3.
But as much as this game means to the Lions, it’s just as important to the Eagles. To fall to 3-3 heading into their bye week would be a disaster for this team. A loss would mean two weeks of questioning the team’s ability to make the playoffs, and whether or not a change to Nick Foles could be in the near future.
As interesting as those scenarios would be to write about, I just can’t see it happening. I think this is a game in which home field advantage really makes a difference, and I like the Eagles to bounce back from a frustrating loss to the Steelers and head into the bye at 4-2.
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