Neither wide receiver
Without Maclin, the Eagles will use
Nobody would ever suggest using Jackson as a decoy, because his big-play skills are so important for the offense. Jackson has to find a way to shake free of Peterson and his bump-and-run excellence. How can the Eagles get the ball into the hands of the explosive Jackson, and how can they replace the production Maclin gives the passing game?
Certainly, the Eagles have talent without Maclin. Avant is a sharp route runner who has great hands and the courage to catch the ball in tight spots. Johnson is a lightning-quick rookie who is an effective catch-and-run receiver and, in the limited opportunities he's had to date, has been tough in coverage. Gilyard, from what we saw in the preseason, is strong in his routes and has a good body and the ability to separate.
But what else are the Eagles going to do to juice up the offense? It can't possibly be a matter of just interchanging the personnel and running the same X's and O's.
Last week, for example, the Eagles used a no-huddle approach to put
That's the key right there. The Eagles must put the Cardinals on their heels and show them something they haven't seen. Maybe it's a formation. Maybe it's the way the Eagles use their personnel against a defense that has fast linebackers who can run with tight ends and running backs in the passing game.
Maybe the Eagles show some no huddle, just to get the Cardinals thinking. Or they pound the running game. Or they go screen game and catch the Cardinals coming up the field.
The beauty of the Eagles offense is the versatility it offers. The Eagles have the scheme and the personnel to pull off just about anything, provided the losses of Maclin, Dunlap and center
This is not the defense against which to use seven-step drops and try to go over the top. The best approach is to get the ball out of Vick's hands quickly, because the Cardinals are so fast and so aggressive with their blitz game that they thrive on big plays for lost yardage.
So what's the hook for Sunday? First of all, how much confidence do the coaches have in first-time starter
I think we're going to see a lot of
The Eagles need to bring a hard-hat mentality to this game. The fancy, big-play offense is going to be challenged here, and the Eagles must be more physical than Arizona. They must put a hat on a hat and win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
With that, though, I'm sure the Eagles are going to come up with some wrinkles. They're going to need some patience, and they're going to have to be resourceful and they're going to have to be precise. Maclin is a huge part of this offense. The line of scrimmage is a huge question mark. How are the Eagles going to move the ball and score points down so many of their key players?
Start hot, and stay that way. That's the message from offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who is putting his game plan together as we speak. He's going to come up with a winning formula, one of the most challenging he has had to put together in his time with the Eagles.