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Eagles Must Be Aggressive Vs. Steelers

Do what you do. It's a saying in the NFL, and it means that teams have philosophies and they generally stick to those philosophies. The Eagles, as you know, like to be aggressive. They like to throw the football and attack a defense down the field. They like to blitz and play "downhill" football on defense.

So the suggestion that the Eagles should fold the corners on their tent in this big Week 3 game against the Steelers is something I just don't buy.

What the Eagles must do to beat the Steelers is "do what they do," but to do it a little bit better than they did in Dallas on Monday night. They're facing a physical, confident Pittsburgh team that presents some unique challenges. The Eagles have a plan to defeat those challenges. That plan does not involve playing "scared" football.

Oh, the Eagles are going to make some alterations to the scheme they used in Dallas. The offense could very well come out throwing the football again, with an emphasis on protecting Donovan McNabb and keeping the ferocious Steelers linebackers out of the backfield. Jim Johnson could dial up more blitzes that plug up running lanes and effectively bottle up Willie Parker from finding much room on the ground.

The Eagles have to play a strong game to beat the 2-0 Steelers, make no mistake about that. They have to get back to peak physical and emotional levels, and they need to have discipline. If you see a bunch of false starts and dumb penalties early in this game for the Eagles, be worried. Be very worried.

However, the Eagles don't have to re-invent themselves here. They just have to play the kind of football they can play.

There are a lot of interesting plots and sub-plots in this game, but the essence of the matchup seems pretty simple: The Eagles defense can't allow the Steelers to pound away with the running game and then go over the top with play-action passing, and the offense has to minimize the pressure Pittsburgh applies with its blitz game.

It makes sense if the Eagles commit to the line of scrimmage on defense. The smart thinking is that Johnson is going to order some games up front and keep the edges stout. It is a recent memory from the preseason when the Steelers ran right at the edges of the Eagles defense with great success and then finished off an impressive first drive with the intermediate catch-and-run passing game.

It would be flat-out shocking if the Steelers came out with spread formations and asked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to win the game with his arm. The Steelers take a more old-school approach and bang away at defenses with a power running game and a high-percentage passing game.

Offensively, the Eagles are going to see a lot of blitzing, a lot of changes in coverage and a bunch of different looks up front. The Steelers have a great scheme, outstanding coaching and good personnel. They are playing great defense through two weeks, overwhelming both the Texans and the Browns to start undefeated.

The recipe for success is to go after the Steelers with a passing game. I don't know how well the Eagles can run the ball against the Steelers front seven, but I know that if the protection is there for McNabb, he will have some chances to make big plays in the passing game.

This is a huge game for the Eagles. They need to get that winning taste back into their mouths and they need a confidence-building win against a quality team. They need to play Eaglles football, which means to be smart and effient and explosive and physical.

Hey, nobody is going to be tip-toeing around this one. It's going to be a bloody one at Lincoln Financial Field. It's going to be a man's game. It isn't going to be time to play small ball.

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