Eagles center Mike McGlynn has perhaps his toughest matchup of the season going against the Cowboys' Jay Ratliff.

Keys to the Game as Eagles Visit Lions

LeSean McCoy during practice on August 7, 2010.

Eagles running back LeSean McCoy deserves at least 15 carries, doesn't he? (Photo: Ryan Messick)

5. Eagles Kick Coverage – In a game in which the Lions are likely to struggle offensively, they may be able to create a spark with their special teams units.  The Eagles struggled with their kick coverage unit last week, as the Packers’ Jordy Nelson had several big returns.  Stefan Logan handled the returns last week, but if the Eagles don’t improve their coverage it won’t really matter who is responsible for the return duties. “It’s to be questioned at this point, because it’s not even remotely up to what we need it to be,” said Eagles special teams coordinator Bobby April.

4. Establish the Run – LeSean McCoy had only seven carries last week in the Eagles loss to the Packers. With Michael Vick starting, the Eagles should look for ways to make his job a little easier and make it tougher for the Lions defense to focus on shutting down his running game.  Giving LeSean McCoy at least 15 carries would go a long way in that regard.  Philadelphia should try to get Mike Bell at least 5-7 carries as well.  While the veteran battled injuries throughout training camp, he looks healthy and ready to go at this point. Are 20-25 carries too much to ask?  With Andy Reid calling the shots, they just might be.

3. Stop Calvin Johnson – Detroit’s offense is pretty simple to figure out, as Calvin Johnson is a huge part of it.  “This guy is extremely talented, and you watch him on film, and he can turn the tables in a hurry.  Not only just going up for the ball, like we all saw last week against Chicago, but also run after catch and he’s tough to bring down and he can take it to the house.  So he brings a tremendous challenge to this defense.” said Eagles’ defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. At 6’5” and 236 pounds, Johnson will be a handful for the entire Eagles’ secondary and should draw a double team on most passing downs.

2. Eagles Offensive Line – Philadelphia faces a season without center Jamaal Jackson, who is out for the year with a torn triceps.  Detroit’s front four is the strength of its defense, so the Eagles might have their hands full.  Rookie tackle Ndamukong Suh should draw a lot of double teams, but Michael Vick may help neutralize the pass rush.  Historically, many teams employ a “mush rush” against the speedy quarterback, in which they don’t go after the sack so much as they try to keep Vick hemmed into the pocket to limit his scrambling. Regardless, the Eagles’ ability to protect for Vick on passing downs and open holes for LeSean McCoy could make the difference in this being a nail biter or an easy win for the Birds.

1. Vick’s Turnovers – During his time in Atlanta, Vick threw 71 touchdowns and ran for 21. However, he also tossed 52 interceptions and fumbled 19 times.  Vick is an electrifying player who can create big plays, but also serve them up for the defense.  In a game the Eagles’ should win with even just efficient play at quarterback, it will be more important for Vick to hold onto the ball than create huge plays.  One of the few scenarios leading to a Lions win involves a few turnovers, and Vick would likely be in the midst of those.  If he can take care of the ball, the Eagles will be tough for the Lions to beat.

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Tags: Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions Keys To The Game Kick Coverage LeSean McCoy Philadelphia Eagles Run

  • Section118

    Anyone know why Clay Harbor is inactive today? Is he hurt?

  • http://www.insidetheiggles.com Ryan Messick

    Harbor was not hurt this week according to the injury report, so this move seems to be related to the poor blocking skills of both Celek and Harbor – which were on display on 4th and 1 last week.

  • Section118

    Ok, thanks. Makes sense… the blocking was pathetic last week. I do like Clay Harbor but I must say this was something that’s bothered me. We have a good receiving tight end but we keep spending our draft picks on more receiving tight ends. I understand there’s a risk of injury, but a number 2 tight end shouldn’t get thrown to too many times in the course of a season, so why not draft a good blocking tight end? You can get good value on one late in the draft…
    Is this the role that we’ll use Garrett Mills? I admit, I don’t know very much about him.

  • http://www.philadelphiabars.net Philly Phil

    Good point about Vick’s past turnovers, hopefully he won’t have any today. He should be good. Looking forward to a great victory over the Lions. Fly Eagles Fly!

  • http://www.ryanmessick.net Ryan Messick

    Section118, I think the Eagles feel like they can usually get a blocking tight end off the scrap heap after training camp. In my view, they also think it’s easier to draft a pass catcher and teach them to block than do the opposite, which I tend to agree with.

    Last week it was an issue of using the wrong personnel. They could have put an extra lineman on for Celek on 4th and 1, or run a different play.