I'm not here to riff on quarterback Michael Vick's status (He's the starting quarterback. Period. But he certainly needs to play better.) and I'm not about to dig too deeply into the X's and O's of the offense (everyone, including the coaches, needs to improve), nor is there any deep, dark secret about the defensive approach against New York (Somehow, the Eagles must force Eli Manning into mistakes and get him off the field on third downs).
This is a huge week for the Eagles on the field. Off the field, of course, we celebrate the career of Brian Dawkins, and as I know you've heard and will hear all week, get in your seats early that night to enjoy the pre-game festivities (we'll have complete, live coverage of the pre-game ceremony and the halftime show on PhiladelphiaEagles.com for those of you not in attendance).
What happens on the field is the topic of the week for you, I know. The Eagles have put that stinker on Sunday behind them and now turn their full attention to the defending Super Bowl-champion Giants. It's a stern test, a realistic indicator of where the Eagles are in the NFC East hierarchy and a great chance to judge the changes this coaching staff has in mind after the ups and downs of the first three games.
And make no mistake, there will be changes. We may not see them as clearly as the coaches do -- for instance, you may not notice a philosophical tweak in the protection scheme, but you will recognize if there is a shift in the run/pass ratio -- but all adjustments will be equally important.
The matchups here are interesting to note. How is left tackle Demetress Bell going to handle an every-down diet of Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck? Where is center Dallas Reynolds in his development especially if the Giants, not traditionally a blitz team, show something the Eagles have not seen on film and line up to bring the house?
Clearly, Vick has to make adjustments, in accordance with the coaching staff. The Eagles simply can't continue to allow Vick to take so many hits and force so many throws and turn the ball over so much. This is on Vick, yes, and also on the coaching staff. The Eagles want to continue to take shots here and there down the field, but can they do that against such a terrific pass rush as the Giants offer?
Then there is the case of LeSean McCoy and finding the right formula by which to use him each week. He needs his touches, not too many to make him wobbly, but this is the kind of game, a division battle, that requires the Eagles to make sure their best players are "put in position to make plays," to borrow one from Andy Reid. I can't argue that Reid needs to do a better job of that. He is correct when he criticizes himself. The NFL is a game of coaching and adjustments. The Eagles have a week to correct what went wrong in the first three games.
The matchup most interesting to me is that of Juan Castillo against Manning. As much as it pains me to say it, Manning has become just about the most complete quarterback in the league, and he is devastating on third downs. The Eagles put together an effective scheme against Manning last November 20 when he completed just 18 of 35 passes in a 17-10 Eagles win. The Eagles sacked Manning three times that night, intercepted a pass, and limited the Giants just enough to squeak out a victory.
How does Castillo approach this game? The Giants are running the football much more effectively now than they were last season. The receiving corps is outstanding. Tight end Martellus Bennett is a big-time threat down the field.
It's a tall challenge for the Eagles. And coming off a game like the Eagles had in Arizona, and hearing the alarms sounding so loudly from fans and media this week, yeah, this game is of added importance. The Eagles need to show up and play their best football to win the game and establish something positive in the division.
This is the time to move forward, and not look back. That's what the team is doing, with the purpose of rising up and beating the Giants the only thing that matters.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- Inconsistency is the reason Chas Henry is no longer the Eagles' punter. Mat McBriar, if all the way healthy, has much more upside and is a great directional punter. I have no problem with the move.
- Going to be interesting to see how the kicking game is affected. I think Jon Dorenbos has a lot of rehab ahead of him this week with his high ankle sprain, but he is moving around much better Wednesday than he was on Monday. If he can't play, can the Eagles possibly coordinate newly added Kyle Nelson as the snapper, McBriar as the holder and Alex Henery as the placekicker in time for Sunday night? Big week ahead for Bobby April and the special teams.
- The expectation here is that Jeremy Maclin, barring a setback this week, will play on Sunday. Doesn't sound as promising for left tackle King Dunlap and wide receiver Riley Cooper.
- For those of you going to Sunday night's game, get to and through the admission gates in plenty of time to arrive in your seats for the pre-game warmups, etc. There is a lot going on that you're going to like. Trust me on that one. Leave your tailgate a few minutes early and get to your seats, please.