Friday, October 16, 2009

Strategy and Matchups - OAK


Clearly the Eagles are the better team. This game shouldn't be one where we need to do a lot of special gameplanning in order to win. That said, this game can be valuable. The Raiders like to play physical, press coverage. We don't always handle that well (see WAS games last year). I could see this being an area of focus for Big Red and the passing game.

I think the way to attack their defense is with a vertical passing game. The Giants got behind them a few times last Sunday. Our receivers are faster than the Giants so we should be able to pull that off as well. We need D-Jax and J-Mac to beat press coverage and get open. We need the line to block well for 2-3 seconds. We then need Donovan to put the ball on target. We're capable of doing that stuff, but having all 3 things happen on the same play is harder than it sounds. That's why more deep balls aren't thrown or completed. Most NFL teams have too much talent to just let a team complete a lot of long throws. Look at the Raiders. CB Namdi Asomugha, DE Greg Ellis, and DE Richard Seymour aren't chopped liver.

Stretching the field with the WRs should open up the middle for Celek and Avant. You have to mix in those guys to move the chains and sustain drives. Speaking of that...the Bucs did a good job of sustaining drives by converting on 3rd downs, with a quick pass, QB run, or penalty from us. I don't see Oakland doing that. They run the fewest plays per game in the league. That should lead to more plays and possessions for our offense.

Will we finally mix in more runs or will Big Red continue to dial up pass plays? If we are up 31-3 in the 4th quarter will McNabb be throwing to Celek or Vick be handing off to McCoy? Against KC I think Reid was nervous about over-working LeSean with Westy out. Last week we just didn't have the ball enough to run a bunch of plays. This week should be different. I'll be interested to see how we close out the game if we do have a big lead.

Since we are the better team we need to avoid the kind of mistakes that keep underdogs in the game. We must avoid turnovers and limit penalties. We also don't want any fluke plays helping them out. KC burned us with a trick play. Tampa had an OL catch a batted ball and run 15 yards with it. You want to avoid that stuff if at all possible. Make them beat you straight up.

Our screen game has been quiet this year. I'd like to see that open up a bit this week. The Giants had success with that last week. The Wildcat could work better this game. Tampa has a bad D, but those guys can run. That hurt our plays that tended to go wide instead of N-S. Oakland has some speed, but I don't think as much as Tampa. The Wildcat plays should probably be more effective this time out.

I'm a bit confused about what the defense should do. We need to blitz some, obviously. Here's the thing...Russell is playing poorly right now. Conventional wisdom is to then rush the front four and have a bunch of guys in coverage to play the ball. The problem is that his passes are so erratic that no one catches them. JaMarcus is completing 42% of his passes. Think about that number. Eagles fans got all over McNabb when he could "only" complete 59% of his throws as a young QB. Mike McMahon thinks Russell is a bad QB.

My guess is that McDermott will blitz a fair amount. The Raiders prefer to throw deeper routes. That won't work with the blitz. That should lead to checkdowns, which isn't something that Russell does well. I am interested to see how we defend TE Zach Miller. We used a variety of players on Kellen Winslow last week and all of them got burned. Miller gives us another talented TE to defend. McDermott will keep adjusting until he finds something that works. And that is important with the slate of good TEs we have to face over the course of the season.


* Can Omar Gaither have a third straight good game? He's done well the last two weeks. Amazing that coincides with giving Trotter his first workout.

* Can VA get his first sack from the LDE spot? He does a lot of good things, but we need better pass rush from him on the edge.

* Will Macho finally make a play? C'mon dude. You owe me for saying nice things about you all last year.

* I'd love to see Westy and McCoy combine for 120 yards rushing in the game. I don't care how that splits up. I'd also like to see someone break for a run of more than 20 yards.

* This is probably a complete jinx, but I'd kill for a shutout. We haven't had one since 1996. Remember when Patrick Henry famously shouted "Give me a shutout or give me death" to his team? I feel the same way.

* Could Oakland realistically win this game? Yes. They have some talented players. If those guys happened to all play well on the same day, they can win. Remember watching them in the season finale last year? We needed Tampa to lose to the Raiders to keep us alive for the playoffs. Oakland played well. Russeell made some big throws. RB Michael Bush had a great game. The defense was tough enough. There is a lot of in-fighting going on right now. Sometimes that can bring a team together. Other times it only worsens the problem. We have no idea what to expect from this bunch. They are a truly dysfunctional team.

I also think we'd need to play really poorly and make a lot of mistakes. That is possible. We're good for a slopfest or two each year. I don't anticipate that this week. I will be extremely disappointed if this is anything less than a blowout.


izzylangfan said...

I thought VA showed some signs last week. He might not have had a sack from LDE but he was responsible for some pressure.

I have seen more than a few games where the Eagles get 3-5 sacks but where those are the only plays where the QB is under pressure. Thus, in spite of what might seem good stats the line did not really do the job. We need to mess up the QB more than we need to tackle him.

Tommy Lawlor said...

Sacks can be deceiving. No doubt about that.

VA has shown some signs of life as a pass rusher, but we need more if our DL is going to take the next step. The Giants were able to win the SB because Strahan, Tuck, and Osi could take over games. We can't do that with just our DL yet.

Cliff said...

VA showing us more will also instill some confidence in the DL, at least for me. I think the coaches are really uncertain about this DL.

Clemons doesn't play much. Laws was inactive. An UFA is getting a lot of PT.

Arno said...

Aren't we focusing too much on the strengths of the Giants? Isn't our secondary of more importance to us than it is to the Giants? We expect those guys to make plays for us.

Sure we need pressure from our D-line, but what is the unique strength of the Eagles defense? Stop the run, let them beat us passing.

Of course, they have much more chance to make plays when the QB is uncomfortable. But when we are able to stop the run, we can get our playmakers as Samuel and Brown (already 3 int. this year) involved.

izzylangfan said...

The strength of the Eagles defense has traditionally been to stop the pass. The run defense had to be acceptable but not fabulous. The thought being that if you can stop the pass any team is going to have a hard time putting up a lot of points primarily using the run.

What scares me about the current defense is that we appear to be strong against the run but questionable against the pass. But stopping the run cold we are forcing the opponents to pass which gives them the best chance to rack up points quickly.

The line is good but doesn't get enough pressure thus quarterbacks have way to much time.

The linebackers are good but Bradley went down in the middle and have always had too much difficulty with tight ends anyway.

The defensive backfield is good but we replaced Dawkins with Macho Harris and really have no idea what exactly that is going to cost us.

We better score a lot of points just in case because our defense is the great unknown.

Cliff said...

Tommy, I know you'll be watching a lot of college football this weekend with all the big games, so I'll ask: what's up with Bradford and McCoy?

Both guys are supposed to be 1st round QB selections, right? Bradford gets re-injured on a relatively normal hit at the beginning of the game and McCoy has looked horrible. I thought these were the sort of games big name talent step up.

Terrelle Pryor got messed up today, too. And Tony Pike didn't look too hot for the Bearcats last night either.

Would I be right if I said 2010's QB class doesn't look very good? That could be a huge problem for teams like the Rams, Raiders, Jags, and Panthers.

Cliff said...

Oh, and I see you got a post on's Bloghead. Columns, blogging... are you the reason Reid's contract negotiations are taking forever? Apparently, the Eagles have a darkhorse candidate making them hesitate to pony up the cash to Reid.