Here are the keys to Sunday's Eagles-Saints game ...
- Sean McDermott vs Sean Payton. We must be aggressive on defense. Brees is too good to try and rely on him making mistakes to end drives. You must attack him. You also have to be careful because guys like Bush and Devery Henderson have the speed to make you pay if there is a blown coverage or missed tackle. You know Payton studied last week's game over and over to see what McDermott did to the Panthers. The new wrinkles all worked well, but now teams know what they are. Payton will put together a game plan to protect Brees and attack our vulnerable spots. You can't sit back or Brees will pick you apart. McDermott will hopefully have a new wrinkle for this game.
- Macho Harris will be important this week. The Saints like to stretch the field with their passing attack, especially on play-action. The cornerbacks will do their part in coverage, but Harris needs to stay ""deeper than the deepest."" He also needs to cover a lot of ground and play the ball well.
- We must handle the Saints blitz well. They attacked with their linebackers a fair amount in the opener. I'm sure they'll do the same to try and rattle Kolb. The line, plus backs and tight ends, must do a good job. We have to read the blitzes well and make sound blocks. Give Kolb time and he should be able to burn the Saints on a few pass plays.
- Our defense must be disciplined. The Saints attack the whole field and use all their players. Last week they ran a flea flicker. They had Bush line up at wide receiver. They threw a screen to the fullback. They started a backup running back and he got 28 carries. Two touchdown passes went to tight end Jeremy Shockey. Brees and Payton believe in spreading the ball and attacking everywhere. This puts constant pressure on all 11 defenders and the coaches. You can't hide a weak spot against the Saints.
- We need an effective running game. One of the best ways to control Brees is to keep him sitting on the sideline while we control the ball on offense. Reid and Marty Mornhinweg need to dial up the run plays. That also helps when a backup quarterback is on the field. The line should be able to get push against the Saints. Westbrook, McCoy and Weaver have what it takes to move the chains and make some plays.
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-- Posted by Tommy Lawlor, 11:00 a.m., September 19*