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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