By Brandon Pemberton
The Philadelphia Eagles got punched in the mouth last Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In my eyes, it was exactly what they needed as team after all of the media induced “Dream Team Hype”. Yes while team looks great on paper and on Madden 12, they obviously need some work and time to gel as a unit. The defense was gashed against the run and abused in the air by the Steelers. I know Andy Reid laid down the hammer this week and I expect them to come out and trash the Cleveland Browns.
Mike Vick and the Eagles offense looked horrible last week and you can put most of the blame on the team’s starting QB. He rushed his passes and made bad decision after another, throwing three interceptions in the first half. DeSean Jackson was seeing his first action after holding out of camp and Jeremy Maclin wasn’t available to play either. I expect a performance from the Birds similar to the one drive they had against the Ravens. I also would love to see LeSean McCoy and Ronnie Brown more involved in the game plan as well. The Cleveland Browns are making the transition from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3 base and from what I have seen their defense shouldn’t pose any problems for the Eagles or any other team.
I know it might not be a big deal to many people, but 2nd year Quarterback Mike Kafka in my eyes seems to have a better hold of the offense then Vince Young. It isn’t a big surprise being as though this is Kafka’s second year in the west coast offense and Young has never been the greatest when it comes to running a offense as it should be run. I been thinking about it, if Vick went down for 3 or 4 games…..Who would I feel more comfortable with as a back up? Then I go back over the first two preseason games and realize the Kafka has had success playing against guys who won’t being playing in the league this season. While Young isn’t the traditional system fit, he can make plays with his feet and ability to keep plays live.
The Eagles defense looked horrible against the Steelers and I blame it on a few things:
1. Lack of OTA’s and usual practice time before the preseason games didn’t allow all of these new players on defense to mesh.
2. The Steelers took advantage of the Eagles young linebackers and the absence of DT Antonio Dixon and Mike Patterson.
3. The Linebackers aren’t experienced and might not be good enough.
4. Lack of experience and talent(Kurt Coleman) at the safety postion.
With that being said, I expect a big difference against the Browns and 2nd year Quarterback Colt McCoy. Mike Patterson will see his first action since his scare during training camp, which should help the Eagles rush defense. The Browns lean heavy on the legs of Peyton Hillis and use a lot of play action passing to move the ball. I’m looking forward to seeing Trent Cole’s one on one matchup with the best Left Tackle in football, Joe Thomas. It should be a good one to watch. Let’s see what kind of improvement the young linebackers have made as well. The Eagles believe that this linebacker core is good enough, so it’s time for Matthews, Chaney, and Fokou to show me something. I still don’t believe Casey Matthews is the answer at the Mike backer and I don’t know why they even moved Jamar Chaney from the middle in the first place. Matthews might be better suited to play the weakside backer, but it’s yet to be seen if he is quick enough and able to work in that kind of open space.
Lastly Pittsburgh worked the middle of the field against the Eagles, attacking the safeties and linebackers in coverage. With the Eagles 3 great cornerbacks, this would be expected. Safeties Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman need to be in the right spots and not blow any assignments this week. Also defensive coordinator Juan Castillo is still figuring out how to incorporate DRC, Nnamdi, and Asante into the scheme at the same time. Someone is going to have to play the slot, but at this time the team hasn’t had enough time to figure it out.
So check me out during the game on twitter @Bashir28 for updates and honest opinions. Also Look for my radio show on Sunday nights during the season rapping up the Eagles games and all NFL action with my co-host Keiana Williams.