Friday, October 9, 2009

Strategy and Matchups - Tampa


We have the better team. We need to be aggressive and get a lead and go from there. We let an undermanned Tampa team stay in the game back in 2006 and they ended up beating us. Can't have that stuff this year. We're too good. We need to go out there and blow their doors off (to quote Wooderson).

I know we're playing weak teams right now. We won easily last time out. That's what you do when playing a weak team. The Eagles won't really get tested until NFC East games start in a few weeks. The test now is to play up to a standard of excellence. In the past we played down to the opponent more than I'd like. If this team has SB aspirations, they need to go out and bully lesser teams. Big Red doesn't owe Fox/CBS/NBC/ESPN a good game.


This is a game where Andy's passing attack is the way to go. Tampa has given up quite a few big pass plays this year. There are some big holes in the middle of the field. They also don't tackle very well, giving you a chance for big RAC yards.

It sounds like Jeremy Maclin will start in place of Kevin Curtis once again. With J-Mac, Jason Avant, and DeSean Jackson the Eagles have 3 guys with excellent RAC ability. I'll be disappointed if we don't come up with a big play or two.

FS Tanard Jackson returns from suspension and will play this week. The Bucs coaching staff hasn't decided whether to start him or work him into the lineup. Their secondary has been brutal. I have to think Tanard starts. He is a talented player in the middle of the defense. He is a 2-year starter with 3 INTs, 3 FFs, 16 PDs, and 112 solo tackles. Without him the deep middle might as well have been I-95 with the way players ran freely all over the place.

Donovan returns as the starter this week. Frankly, I'm curious to see him play. We're a month into the regular season and McNabb has only thrown 79 passes in preseason and regular season competition. He is a veteran QB and this probably isn't a big deal, but you never know. QBs are funny. Sometimes they stay in a groove. Other times they need reps to get in rhythm.

We should be able to throw on the Bucs. Their pass rush isn't exactly clicking so far. Tampa has 6 sacks in 4 games. Their cover guys are young and talented, but we should be able to get open against them. If McNabb is on time and on target, I look for a big day out of the passing game.

I admit to being nervous about Ronde Barber. He's just one man. He's just an aging CB. But he's broken our hearts a couple of times. If McNabb is sloppy or gets too cute, Barber can still make him pay. And turnovers are the great equalizer. I don't think Donovan should avoid throwing to Ronde's side of the field. Just be careful.

Our OL will still be Peters-Cole-JJ-Max-Justice. Those guys should be able to give Donnie a solid pocket. Gaines Adams is the best pass rusher. Peters should handle him when they're matched up. Adams could give Justice some problems, but Winston is coming off the best game of his career. Let's hope he's able to build on that.

I think we should be able to run on Tampa as well. Bucs opponents average 172 yards a game on the ground. Hopefully they'll get a heavy dose of Eagles RBs in the 2nd half of the game as we have a lead to protect. Westy and McCoy will split carries. I say good. That's a wise choice. You can see how Shady's burst and fresh legs make an impact on the offense. I also hope we finally get Leonard Weaver involved a bit more.

Tampa has speedy LBs. They average 236 pounds per man. The best way to handle them is running directly at them. Bucs DTs are no longer penetrators. They now eat up blocks to let the 'backers flow to the ball. Our big bodies need to get movement on the LOS. If that happens and we run at the LBs we can have some real success.

Mike Vick and the Wildcat package will also be on display. Tampa is faster on D than the Chiefs so we may not have as much success with perimeter runs. I hope we limit some of the crazy stuff. I do like the option package. Vick does a good job with that. I'd love to get a lead and see Vick get some time to play QB. He's still rusty as heck.


Attack. QB Josh Johnson played nervous last week. He didn't want to make a mistake. I'm sure he'll be more comfortable this time out, but we can get inside his head with lots of pressure. Let's blitz the kid and see if we can rattle him.

Tampa's OL is built to run block more than pass protect. Trent Cole and the rest of the DL should be able to get some pressure when we only rush the front four. That is still an area of concern. I love the blitz and attacking style, but the DL needs to win more battles on their own. Sacks are great, but regular pressure on the QB is fine. Don't let the guy get comfortable.

Trot will play MLB in the game. It sounds like he'll start in the base defense. I know I'll be focused on #54 when he's in. He doesn't have to be Byron Evans, but I also hope he doesn't look like Byron "Whizzer" White. Trot will add power to the middle of the defense. And that could be important this week.

Tampa's best hope is to run Cadillac Williams and see if he can get into a groove. If that happens, it will open up the middle of the field for passes to Kellen Winslow Jr. It would also give single coverage to the outside receivers. Maybe Antonio Bryant will remember how good he can be and make a few plays.

Cadillac is a big guy. This is the kind of runner that Omar isn't built for. Plus, the Bucs have some good interior linemen. Gaither was able to get off blocks last week, but the Chiefs have some older guys. Tampa has a couple of injured guys, but RG Davin Joseph is a very good player. Trotter will do a better job of taking on him and the Center. Let's go stuff the run and kill the QB.

The offensive X-factor for Tampa is the running of Josh Johnson. If we play man coverage he could have a big advantage when he starts running. Defenders are focused on the receivers at that point and don't focus on the ball until they realize he's off and running. We could play zone. That keeps guys looking in the backfield and makes us more aware of what Josh is doing. Zone is less aggressive and affects what blitz packages we can run. We could also spy Josh with a LB or S.

Macho Harris
owes us a play. Is this the week? While he has been quiet this year, that isn't entirely a bad thing. He hasn't been getting burned. The deep middle has been pretty well covered this year. Still, I want a sack or pick or something. C'mon Macho Man...give us something.


* Ronde Barber blocked a PAT last week. Gotta watch for him off the edge.

* Tampa has allowed 6 pass plays of 40 or more yards. 5 went for TDs.

* Clifton Smith is a dangerous RS. He did fumble at RB last week.

* Tampa has a new PK, Shane Andrus. Can he kick 62-yard FGs?

* Their punter is an old friend...former Eagle Dirk Diggler, aka Dirk Johnson.


Cliff said...

This is the preview from Pat Kirwin of

Three-headed monster in Philadelphia
I talked with Michael Vick this week, and it was inspirational to discuss where his life is headed and where the Eagles are going in 2009. Vick will be a positive contributor to society and will also be a positive contributor to the Eagles offense. Look for Philadelphia to use multiple spread sets and open up this offense. I would guess Vick sees about 10 to 12 plays, and he may get the chance to throw three to four passes. McNabb has two touchdowns in his 18 pass attempts this season and has demonstrated he can still run (6.8 yards per carry). Kevin Kolb threw for more than 300 yards in the two starts he received. As one coach said, "JaMarcus Russell wouldn't even make this team, let alone start!"

I think the last quote about JaMarcus Russell is funny. I think about the 5 QB's the Eagles have had on the roster this year (McNabb, Kolb, Vick, Garcia, Feeley) and Russell wouldn't even be in that list of five!

Cliff said...

And if anyone hasn't checked out the intro on's splash page for this week's game... it's hilarious.

Stephen said...

I am so tired of hearing how all of a sudden Vick is so inspirational. The dude went to prison for a felony, and has now been handed again a multimillion dollar per year job. How is that inspirational? It must feel like a kick to the balls for felons out there who get out of prison and have a hard time landing a job for more than minimum wage. WHO exactly is Vick supposed to inspire? Hopefully urban kids don't think hey Vick bounced back I can too! Guess what kid, you aint worth millions to the NFL so don't try this at home...

T_S_O_P said...

"We need to go out there and blow their doors off (to quote Wooderson)."

If we shut them out, I hope you remember this quote and then find a circa 1969 Michael Caine quote for the DGR.

Cliff said...

Shutouts are funny things. Watching the Hokies play BC today I was excited to see us up 34-0 with a quarter to go. Then the score became 41-7, then 48-14.

Funny how the 34-0 just felt better than the final score of 48-14.