Editor’s Note: Staff writer Steve Fini analyzes five players who will make the difference in this week’s life-support special against Arizona.
Beanie Wells (RB/Cardinals) – Unfortunately for the Eagles, he’s going to play. Is Wells great? Not by any means. Have the Eagles made average players look like they are bound for Canton? Why yes, yes they have.
The good news is that the Cardinals’ offense flat-out stinks. And without Kevin Kolb playing, it’s going to be worse (despite what Dominique-Rodgers Cromartie has to say about John Skelton). I’d like to think that there are only two players on this offense that can keep this game close, and Wells is one of them.
He’s big enough that he doesn’t need a great offensive line, but he isn’t as physical as you’d think given he is 6’3, 240 lbs. But this year the Eagles have basically let everyone run all over them so why should this week be any different? Luckily, Wells doesn’t run with same violent conviction that Matt Forte does and goes down quite easily for a bigger running back.
Levi Brown (LT/Cardinals) – Not to pile on Penn State this week, but the former Nittany Lion is simply awful. Trent Cole, who is coming off one of his worst games with the Eagles, should turn Brown into a human turnstile. The rest of the defensive line for the Eagles should also be stout, but I look for Cole in particular to really come out nasty and take his frustration out on Brown.
Early Doucet (WR/Cardinals) – So who will be the mediocre talent to step up against the Eagles this week? Should I take Andre Roberts, LaRod Stephens-Howling, an old and washed up Todd Heap? Nah, I’ll go with Doucet. He’s someone who has name recognition with fantasy footballers and also has over 400 yards receiving and three touchdowns to his credit. While you’d expect someone with DRC’s talent to neutralize Doucet, he probably won’t because he’s a terrible inside cornerback who has been nothing short of dreadful during his first season in Philadelphia. Hopefully for the Eagles Cromartie really listened to his own words and wants to prove that he is better than he’s playing.
Nnamdi Asomugha (CB/Eagles) – He’ll be going up against the only other player of note on the Cardinals offense; Larry Fitzgerald. Two things on Nnamdi: One is that he isn’t playing anywhere close to the level he was in Oakland. You can say what you want about the scheme, but he isn’t meeting the high standards he’s set for himself. Find the ball in the air one time, man.
The other is scheme. It seemed like defensive coordinator Juan Castillo had finally figured out how to use Asomugha, only to see the Eagles’ free agent prize lined up (and getting torched in) zone several times last week. This week he should be matched up against Fitzgerald and not allowed to move from that post. Castillo can’t give the Cardinals the opportunities he gave to Chicago. The Eagles must shut down Fitzgerald at all costs.
DeSean Jackson (WR/Eagles) – I just wrote about how badly Jackson played Monday night. Throughout his career he’s stepped up when people were down on him. This year he hasn’t, but maybe a game against the Cardinals’ piss-poor defense will do the trick. They have a stud rookie corner in Patrick Peterson, but we don’t know if he’ll be covering Jackson or Jeremy Maclin. If this season is any indication it will likely be Maclin whenever possible. That should allow Jackson some space to work with.
The problem with Jackson is that he hasn’t come up with any plays when given the chance. He’s dropped balls, ran the wrong routes, and the deep go route just isn’t there. I think he and quarterback Michael Vick can use this as a game to get Jackson going. It worked with tight end Brent Celek a couple weeks ago and now Celek is performing. Let’s hope they can do the same with Jackson because if the Eagles are to overcome the seemingly impossible odds facing them to make the playoffs, Jackson has to emerge.