On Tap: Another Big Game
Three games into this season and I think it is obvious to all that the Eagles are a good football team with a chance to be a very good football team. The performance on Sunday against the Steelers was convincing, and I, like everyone else, breathed a sigh of relief when the news came out that running back Brian Westbrook is "day to day" with an ankle injury and that it is not expected to be anything long term.
What is the key for the Eagles to continue to win? I know it sounds trite, but they have to keep doing what they are doing and they have to get some of their injured players back on the field and they will be fine. I don't care what team you are. If you lose three of the wrong players at the same time, you are going to have a tough time recovering. I think if the Eagles can stay reasonably healthy and get back some of those key players – I'm talking about Kevin Curtis, Shawn Andrews, Westbrook, etc. – they have as good a shot as any team in the league of going the distance.
Westbrook, to me, is going to have a tough time getting on the field on Sunday night, but I'm no doctor. I know Andy Reid understands that Brian is going to do everything he can to recover in time to play the Bears, so you never know until the end of the week. I would be elated if Westbrook plays, but if he does not, the Eagles are going to have to adjust without their dynamic offensive player.
The offense won't change. Correll Buckhalter knows the offense extremely well and, while he is not the explosive player that Westbrook is, he can move the chains and run the ball very effectively. Lorenzo Booker is a Westbrook-type back – I'm not saying he is as good as Westbrook, just that he can line up and do some of the things the Eagles ask Westbrook to do – who could have an increased role in this game.
Westbrook is the best all-purpose back in football, and when you take him out of the offense, you lose talent and ability and some of the element that makes the offense so good. I think Andy and Marty Mornhinweg can compensate should Westbrook not play. The Eagles are going to throw the football. We all know that. Tampa Bay did it 67 times on Sunday. It may not be skewed to that level on Sunday, but I expect a pass-heavy offense in this one.
Defensively, the Eagles put on a show against the Steelers. It was as dominating as I've seen an Eagles defense play. Period. It was awesome. They have to stop the run first against the Bears and they know it. Kyle Orton has promise and he can throw the football, but he is like every other quarterback, too: If you pressure him enough, he will have trouble.
This defense is the best the Eagles have had in years. I was, frankly, disappointed in the performance in Dallas. There was a lack of pressure on Tony Romo there. What the Eagles did against Pittsburgh is more like the defense I expect each week. The Eagles aren't going to sack the quarterback nine times every week, but they are going to make life miserable for a lot of them this season.
This is a big game. I see no letdowns, or "trap" game or anything like that. The Eagles know they are going into a hostile environment. They know the game is on national television, and that it is a big, big game to win.