Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dawk Talk

Brian Dawkins had his best game of the season in the win over Arizona. He came up with 5 tackles, a FF, and an INT. He helped the Eagles to control the middle of the field by coming up quickly and punishing receivers who tried to catch the ball.

I've talked about Dawk's struggles this year. He can no longer cover receivers or tight ends one-on-one with regular effectiveness. His speed and range as a centerfielder has really fallen off. Dawk is still a force around the line of scrimmage and as a hitter, but he's fallen to the level of a mere mortal in other areas.

What happened last week to make Dawk look so good? The circumstances of the game really helped out. ARZ is not a balanced offense. They cannot run the ball with any effectiveness. That meant Dawk could stay back and not worry about needing to fly up in a hurry.

Arizona doesn't throw to the TE very much. That helped. Dawk knew to mainly focus on the WRs. Not only that, but the Cards aren't a downfield attack. They throw a lot of intermediate passes. Those routes don't stretch the field, but they take long enough that the DBs have a chance to come up and get in on the play. Perfect scenario for Dawk. And he took advantage of it.

There is another scenario at work. Dawk has struggled early the last couple of years only to get hot late in the season. Look back at 2006. 3 of his 5 TFLs came in the last 5 games of the year. 3 of his 4 INTs came in that stretch. He had 6 passes defensed as well.

What about 2007? 2 of his 3 TFLs and his only INT of the year came in the final month. The defense played its best game of the year against Dallas, holding the Cowboys to only 6 points.

It could be that Dawk just plays with a heightened sense of urgency late in the year. Maybe Jim Johnson changes the way he uses him. I can't say anything definitively. I do know that each of the last two seasons Dawk looked done in October only to come alive in December.

He played great against Arizona. Let's hope this will be another season where he saved the best for last and he makes plays in the final month. A strong finish from Dawk will help this team to win some games and maybe even get back to the postseason.

Sunday's game against the Giants will be a huge test for the Eagles and Dawk. They have a complete offense. They can run and throw. They can throw short and long. They can throw to the backs, TEs, and wide receivers. The Eagles need #20 to come up big to come out of the Meadowlands with a "W".

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