Last week the Eagles’ challenge was playing one of the league's best teams. I don't think the Cardinals fit anywhere close to that category, but they are 2-0 and finished last year very hot. Simply put, they find a way to win. It rarely is pretty, but all you have to you have to do is think back to last year when the Cards came to Philly and beat the Eagles in a slopfest of a game.
The challenge for the Eagles this week is to stay focused on the Cardinals and not to get caught up in other things. The Eagles’ 2-0 start is great, but the players can't think about that. They need to think about beating the Cardinals and not worry about the fact that would mean starting 3-0. Leave facts like that to people like me. The players also need to avoid looking ahead to next week's game with the Giants. Deal with them starting on Monday. For now, this is all about the 2-0 Arizona Cardinals.
Old friend Kevin Kolb is the Cardinals quarterback now. He started the season on the bench, but an injury to John Skelton put Kolb back in the starting lineup. He led the Cardinals to a comeback win in the opener and then to a crazy upset last week at New England. The book on Kolb is simple. Give him time and a clean pocket and he will pick you apart. Think back to the 2009 game against the Chiefs or the 2010 game against the Falcons. He lit those teams up and delivered big numbers for the Eagles.
The problem for Kolb in Arizona is that he has a bad offensive line. That makes him uncomfortable in the pocket and brings out the worst in him. Kolb starts to feel pressure even when it isn't there. He will check down to outlet receivers more than he should. Other times he will get desperate and force throws into coverage. Kolb does have the athletic ability to go on the move and make things happen. He had a couple of key runs in the win over the Patriots last week.
The Eagles defensive line must come up big this week. They are better than the Cardinals offensive line and must take advantage of that. I think
The Arizona offense is 30th in the league in yards. They average 2.8 yards per carry. The quarterbacks have combined for 355 passing yards. To put that in perspective,
|Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.|
Linebacker is a deep area for the Cardinals. Sam Acho is the best pass rusher. He had seven sacks last year, despite starting only 10 games. The other player to focus on is Daryl Washington. He is a great cover linebacker. He shut down Rob Gronkowski at times last week. Washington is a very good athlete and has good cover skills. He's more than just a cover 'backer. Washington led the team in tackles last year and is doing that this year as well. I think he'll be used to shut down
The secondary features two unique players. Adrian Wilson is a 230-pound safety. He plays in the box quite a lot. Wilson loves to stuff the run. He had eight tackles-for-loss in 2011. Wilson used to be a great blitzer, but hasn't been doing that as much in recent years. He's not ideal in coverage, but is a smart veteran. The Cardinals coverage star is corner Patrick Peterson. He's not an elite corner yet, but sure looks to be on the way to getting to that level. He is 220 pounds and has explosive speed. I think seeing him and
While the Cardinals do have a good defense, there were some big openings last week. The problem for the Patriots is that they didn't have the speed to exploit those holes. They also didn't have a running back like
The Eagles will be without
Jason Avant will need to do his part in the passing game. He's always a threat over the middle. Vick might be looking for him more this week. Celek has been huge this year, but I think he'll be having a tough week with going up against a great cover guy like Washington. Maybe that means
The passing game requires protection and that starts with
Special teams could also play a critical role this week. The Cardinals used a blocked punt to set up a short-touchdown drive last week. They almost blocked another one. They got good pressure on field goals and they believe that is what caused the kicker to miss so badly late in the game. Campbell uses his height to block a lot of kicks as well. The return game is very dangerous. Peterson is an amazing punt returner. He had four touchdown returns in 2011. LaRod Stephens-Howling is a good kickoff returner. I'm very interested to see how the Eagles deal with Peterson. Do you kick the ball short and keep him from catching it? Do you use directional punting and try to pin him on the sideline? This would be a great week for
The Eagles are the superior team. The key is to avoid turnovers and not to get burned on special teams. Make the Cardinals offense go the long field. I don't think they can do that on this Eagles defense. The Eagles should score some points if they hold onto the football and don't have critical mistakes. Keeping Vick healthy would also help quite a bit. He has started and finished the first two games, a good sign. If the Eagles are focused and play smart football, they should win this game.