How Does The Eagles Offense Matchup Against The Atlanta DefenseBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
Coming off of their bye week, the Eagles will be facing their third straight team who had a bye the previous week. Hosting Atlanta, the lone undefeated team remaining in the NFL, on Sunday will match the Eagles up against one of the NFC’s finest and will test many facets of this team that Andy Reid is desperately trying to save.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles will have a new face under the headset in Todd Bowles, the Temple product whose name was headlined early last week when Juan Castillo was relieved of his duties as defensive coordinator. The last time Bowles held the title of defensive coordinator was in 1999 when he led the defense of Grambling State. However, Bowles has been coaching defense in the NFL since 2000, mainly making his name as one of the league’s best defensive backs coaches. Atlanta’s offense has been potent this season led by another Philadelphia product, Matt Ryan, and Bowles will look to dominate on defense to give the Falcons their first loss of the season. Where the Eagles can take advantage of the Falcons, though, is on offense.
The Falcons, while in the top half of the league in passing defense, have allowed over 140 yards on the ground per game while giving up seven scores in their six games this season. LeSean McCoy is arguably the best running back the Falcons will have faced come Sunday and possibly the entire season. A healthy dose of Shady could be just what the doctor ordered to take advantage of the Falcons biggest flaw and come out of Sunday’s game with a W.
Before the bye, the Eagles running game was shut down. The Lions keyed specifically on McCoy for the duration of the game and held him to only 22 yards on 14 carries. McCoy did manage to catch a touchdown pass, giving him two receiving touchdowns on the season to just one rushing touchdown. The Lions held McCoy to less than 50 yards on fourteen or more carries for the first time since week seven of 2010 and only the third time of his career.
For the Falcons, they will have to pick their poison. Taking McCoy out of the game will leave the receivers single covered. Jeremy “The Falcon Killer” Maclin has made a career out of destroying the Falcons defense. In three career games against Atlanta he has averaged 137.7 yards and over a touchdown per game. Whether they let Shady run on their poor run defense or let Maclin run all over the field, the defense is in for a rough day.
To make this successful, the Eagles must keep the Falcons defense honest and at least take shots downfield. One thing that has allowed defenses to bring an eighth or sometimes ninth man in the box is the fact that the Eagles haven’t taken shots downfield to their weapons like they have in previous years. The occasional 20-plus yard completion is nice but I’m talking about launching it to DeSean 60 yards downfield and keeping the defensive backs 10 to 15 yards off the line to respect the deep pass. Even if there is no chance of a completion, throwing the ball deep will open the eyes of the defense to say “We have to make sure they don’t complete a pass like that, man Vick can chuck it deep.”
These passes will keep safeties from cheating up and keep the corners on the outside occupied, giving McCoy room to get to the outside, his bread and butter run. Like Maclin, McCoy hasn’t played particularly poor against the Falcons in his three career games. Averaging over 75 total yards a game, over 100 in his two games as starter, Shady has shown that he can beat the Falcons defense. In last year’s week two game, the Eagles fell to the Falcons in the Georgia Dome but to no fault of McCoy, who put up 121 total yards and got into the end zone twice in the Sunday Night game.
Like we say every week; just give the ball to Shady. Has he not proven himself enough to be certain that he is the number one weapon on Philadelphia’s offense? Keeping the ball in the uncertain hands of Michael Vick has shown that we can turn the ball over more than any other team in the NFC (still second most in NFL). The Eagles must take advantage of one of the few weaknesses that this Atlanta squad has, and that is against the run.
Sounds easy enough right? Best running back in the league against one of the worst running defenses in the league. I assure you, Andy and Marty will find a way to make it difficult.
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