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Random Thoughts, This And That

Posted Oct 4, 2012

As I watch the Cardinals at St. Louis ... watching the Cardinals defense for clues about what Pittsburgh might try Sunday against Michael Vick and the Eagles ...

We saw Arizona's defense a couple of weeks ago and the Cardinals put on a show against the Eagles. They blitzed well, they covered down the field and they played with more speed than did the Eagles.

Is that what to expect Sunday when Dick LeBeau, the teacher to Arizona defensive coordinator Ray Horton, goes after Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and the explosive Eagles offense? Probably. And if that's the case, Vick is going to have to have some hot reads, and the Eagles are going to have to be committed to the running game.

St. Louis didn't do much of anything on offense on Thursday night other than score a touchdown on its first drive. After that, quarterback Sam Bradford was a mess, taken completely out of his game and off of his timing.

That's obviously the approach against the Eagles. If there's a way to get up on Vick, crowd him and contain him in the pocket, a defense wants to do it. "A" gap blitzes, pressure off the edge and a variety of looks is what we can expect from LeBeau's defense at a chilly, and maybe rainy, Heinz Field.

What I saw from the Rams in the running game was a more power-style ground attack. There wasn't much finesse, which generally isn't the case with St. Louis, anyway.

Hey, it's going to come down to the Eagles offensive scheme, and how the line blocks, and how Vick reacts to the pressure, that is going to determine how the Eagles move the football. Pittsburgh will try to rough up receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, so maybe this is a Brent Celek Game.

At this point, I'm thinking it will be a low-scoring affair, and that turnovers will again tell the tale. But what do I know? A lot of things can change between now and then ...

  • I like the NFL Network's broadcast team of Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, who is extremely astute in his analysis. If I have a criticism of Mayock, it's that I counted him saying, "It's kinda cool" at least four times during the game. It's a cute catch phrase that Mayock uses too much.
  • I hope fans understand how good the Eagles have it with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie at cornerback. Asomugha has given up all of 6 completions in four games, according to Pro Football Focus, which also raves about Rodgers-Cromartie and the 40 percent completion rate against him. To play bump-and-run coverage as these two do in this day and age and to compete as they do is very, very impressive.
  • Brandon Boykin showed a lot of maturity on Thursday when he basically no-commented a comment made by Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown that Boykin is a "candy store." Said Boykin: "I'll let my play on the field do my talking."
  • Huge game for left tackle Demetress Bell. He has to get off the ball quickly in the hostile environment at Heinz Field, and that is his No. 1 challenge. The Steelers are going to go at him and center Dallas Reynolds with a variety of looks.
  • A key in this game: Which offense gets it screen game going? I would expect both teams to try to make some plays in the screen game. The Eagles haven't had a lot going with the screen this year, and isn't that a great way to slow down a blitz and a very good pass rush?
  • Jason Peters continues to rehab his Achilles tendon injury and looks great walking around the NovaCare Complex and he says he has a chance to return this season. We'll see about that. The Eagles are approaching his return to the field very cautiously and Andy Reid has termed Peters' chances of coming back this season as a "long shot." At best. But we'll keep our fingers crossed ...
  • Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb, someone we all watch, played a whale of a game on Thursday night despite a ton of pressure from St. Louis. That he could take such a beating and stay away from turnovers was really impressive.
  • I love the middle screen. How about going to Celek or Clay Harbor a time or two with that on Sunday?
  • Mychal Kendricks vs. tight end Heath Miller on Sunday. It's a very stern test for Kendricks. Miller can go vertical and he runs terrific routes. Let's see how the rookie plays.

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