5. Special Teams – The Eagles continue to give up big kick returns, which has been a league-wide issue. The Eagles haven’t gotten many good returns themselves, and if not both, at least one needs to change. Look for some changes today to the coverage units and return units. Don’t be shocked if Jorrick Calvin unseats Ellis Hobbs and/or DeSean Jackson and gets some opportunities to return kicks and punts.
4. Slow Down Tony Gonzalez – Philadelphia is known for struggling against good tight ends, and Tony Gonzalez definitely qualifies. The Eagles need to mix up their coverage today and bring Quintin Mikell up in coverage more often. They’ll also want to give help over the top against Gonzalez, who will either have a speed advantage on a linebacker or a huge size advantage against a defensive back.
3. Shut Down Falcons Ground Game – Atlanta has the second ranked rushing offense in the NFL, and Philadelphia hasn’t fared too well against the ground attack. The Eagles are 24th in the league in rushing defense. The Birds need to slow down Michael Turner and Jason Snelling early, or they’ll become vulnerable to Matt Ryan’s great play-action fake.
2. Deliver to DeSean – Kevin Kolb gets the start today, and he’s had a tough time getting the ball to DeSean Jackson. The Eagles need to look for creative ways to get the ball in their best playmakers hands. Look for Jackson to run more underneath routes today, and expect Kolb to be looking for him. Kolb has thrown to Jackson just 17 percent of the time, while Vick has gone his way with 24 percent of his throws.
1. Help King Dunlap – With Jason Peters out after arthroscopic knee surgery, King Dunlap gets the start at left tackle against John Abraham, who has 4 sacks this year. Andy Reid can’t leave Dunlap on Abraham one-on-one and expect a good result. Think Winston Justice vs. Osi Umenyiora. The Eagles need to give Dunlap help with chips from running backs and tight ends, and adjust their play-calling. If Abraham has his ears pinned back, the Eagles can throw some screens and draws to the left side to force Abraham to adjust. Running the ball to that side will also keep the defensive end from having his ears pinned back all game.
For Eagles news and insight, follow Ryan Messick on Twitter.