This has been said a lot so far this year. This term gets thrown around a lot, but really a game is never a must win, unless it eliminates you from contention. If the Eagles want to be serious about possibly making the playoffs, then almost every remaining game is a must win. You figure they have to go 7-3 during the remaining ten to do so. Is this possible? Yes it really is. The Birds have to stop stalling in the red zone, and stop giving games away they should have won. Minnesota is a team that a good team should beat.
Birds Improved Run D Gets Major Test:
One positive of this Eagles season, is the improvements to the defensive front. A run defense that was considered the teams weakness, is now one of the teams strength. Brodrick Bunkley, Takeo Spikes, Omar Gaither, and Chris Gocong are all new starters. They are a huge reason for the run defense being much better. Trent Cole emerging as a premier DE, Jevon Kearse being healthy, and the improved play of Mike Patterson are also big for this defense.
Now they get to face their biggest test yet. The NFL's leading rusher Adrian Peterson. This kid may be a rookie, but he plays like a seven year vet. He is a great combination of power, and speed. Once he breaks into the second level, he has moves, and great field vision.
He also has one of the best left sides of an offensive line in the NFL. Matt Birk a multiple pro-bowl C, Bryant McKinnie a very good run blocking LT, and Steve Hutchinson. Hutch is widely considered one of the best guards in football.
Mike Patterson, Brodrick Bunkley, and Trent Cole will have their hands full this game.
If the Eagles want to slow down this attack, their linebackers have to be gap sound, and everybody has to play contain well. If everybody does their job they can tame this beast. Much easier said that done.
Pupil Against His Teacher:
Another side story for this game, will be the coaching match up. Andy Reid versus the Eagles former Offensive Coordinator Brad Childress. Childress has had mixed reviews in Minnesota. Many question his play calling, and also wonder what his plan really is. Winning would certainly stop all the Vikings doubters.
While many felt that the Birds would be missing something without Brad. Well I feel they have been better off without him. Marty Morningweg has done a great job here. He may forever be remembered as the coach who chose the wind in overtime, but he is also one heck of an offensive mind. Some guys are just not meant to be head coaches. That was clearly the case with Marty, and may or may not be with Brad Childress.
I wish the best for Childress, just not this week. Hopefully this will be the first match up of many more to come.
QB Holcomb Likely To Start:
What a bizarre series of events for Kelly Holcomb this year. First he gets dealt to the Eagles along with Takeo Spikes for Darwin Walker(good riddance). Then the Eagles surprisingly draft Kevin Kolb, and Kelly went into training camp knowing he was the odd man out. The Eagles eventually sent him to Minnesota to backup Tavarias Jackson. Now he may be making his first start as a Minnesota Viking against the Eagles.
This is not quite the same as TO vs the Eagles story, but it is still pretty interesting. Kelly has never been a great QB, but at times he shows flashes. I pray those flashes of greatness do not occur this Sunday. After what another veteran QB Brian Griese did to the Birds last week, I would not be able to stomach another blow like that.
I think Tavarias Jackson would be a much easier opponent for the Eagles, because of his inexperience, and likely hood of making mistakes. There is a small chance that Jackson does play, but be ready to see Kelly Holcomb under center come game time.
Fix The Red Zone Mistakes:
If you haven't noticed the Eagles stink in the red zone. They have converted only one touch down in their last eleven trips there. They will continue to lose football games if the mistakes don't stop.
McNabb has to be on target more, the receivers have to catch the ball when given the opportunity, the o-line has to finish their blocks, the play calling has to be good, and everybody needs to eliminate the penalties.
Mistakes haunt this season, and it is time to correct them. Andy has spoken about them, the players have too, and every media outlet in Philadelphia has focused on them.
Eliminate the mistakes, and the Eagles offense takes off. When the offense gets near the goal line, they need to punch it in for six.
Looks like L.J. Smith will play again. He is listed as probable. Andy Reid said he looked good in practice, but that doesn't mean a whole lot. He may be limited by how well he feels during the game. I wonder why they just don't shut him down, until he is completely ready? This rushing him back constantly seems to be re-aggravating his injury.
The biggest surprise was that Jon Runyan was listed as questionable with the broken tailbone. Knowing the iron man streak that Jon has going, you should bet that he will play. He played through the injury last week, and is too tough a dude to let this slow him down.
Brian Dawkins is listed as doubtful, and that means he wont be out there again. Some people think stingers are small injuries, but they can be career threatening. The Eagles are being very cautious with this, and I am sure Brian is too. Any injury that deals with the spine is serious. Quinton Mikell has done a nice job filling in for Brian, and will start again this Sunday.
Eagles win 27-10