As the time crawls slowly to kickoff … Great atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field. I've been here since 10 a.m., back and forth to and from Lincoln Financial Field. The crowd of tailgaters grew from a few dozen then to tens of thousands now and, yeah, everybody is ready to go.
Some thoughts on the game, which is all that matters here …
- Should the defense be more concerned with the Giants run or the pass? Both, is the answer. I have this gut feeling that the Giants are going to come out throwing the football. So the mandate here is to get to Eli Manning from the jump. Jim Johnson has, it seems, opened some games with a four-man rush as he feels out the offense. Not tonight. I want to see the blitzes and the multiple fronts from the very first snap. Trent Cole is my key player on the line. He needs to make some noise.
- How do the Eagles match up against defensive end Justin Tuck? Not quite sure, because I think Tuck moves around so much – end to tackle to linebacker – that he is hard to key on. That's what makes him so good. Jon Runyan will see Tuck the most, of course, and Runyan is going to need a tremendous game to win that battle.
- Something for the offense: Get the ball to tight end L.J. Smith. He needs to be a key player in this offense against New York's defense, both as a help blocker against Tuck and Co. and as a receiver. The red zone is crying for Smith.
- Will Andy Reid play it conservatively, or will he break out the bag of tricks against New York's defense? Remember that the Giants are without strong safety James Butler, who is being replaced by first-round draft pick Kenny Phillips. The young man from Miami is extremely talented, but he is also making the first start of his career. Maybe he will bite on a play-action fake just enough to leave DeSean Jackson open down the field. Maybe that means the Eagles need to establish some threat of a running game early.
- Explain to me what it means when a defensive player makes a play and then waves his hand in front of his face? What is that? Am I just not cool enough to know?
- Chilly temperatures and light winds tonight. Perfect football weather.
- Having Phillies World Series heroes Cole Hamels and Pat Burrell serve as Honorary Captains for this game is going to add a nice touch to an already-frenzied Eagles crowd tonight.
- Watch the hidden-yardage battle in this game. Special teams is absolutely gigantic, and I said before, I don't see Jeff Feagles giving Jackson many opportunities to return the ball. Can the Eagles do anything to give Jackson a chance? Here is a wild thought: Use Brian Westbrook as a second return man. I'm going for broke in this one …
- I'm not sure the Eagles have anything ultra-special for Plaxico Burress tonight, but I know they are going to pay him a lot of attention. A safety over the top? Something, especially in the red zone.
- Donovan McNabb runs for 39 yards tonight. Don't ask me why. I just feel it.
- I'm sitting here with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio and he is adamant that the Steelers have the best defense in the league. All I know is that the Eagles have to play that kind of defense tonight. Blitz the heck out of the Giants tonight and rely on coverage down the field from a talented secondary. Manning vs. the bliz, according to Sal Pal, 59.1. "Worst in the league," says Paolantonio. "I think he is the weak link tonight if they can get to him with the blitz. He is in a four-game slump right now …"
- More from Sal, who is on a roll … "Donovan against the blitz? He is 103.9, fifth-best in the league. This game is all about the blitz and who handles it the best."
- So much time before an 8:15 p.m. game …
- Danny Bonaduce is zip-lining into the stadium with SWOOP before the kickoff as a way to introduce Bonaduce to Philly. He is hosting WYSP's 6-10 a.m. slot Mondays-Fridays. I met Bonaduce a short time ago. A tiny guy. Looks kinda crazy. I look forward to seeing what he brings to the table every morning.
- What happens if the Eagles spread the field with three receivers and Brian Westbrook lined up in the slot against a Giants secondary that is minus Butler and Kevin Dockery? The Eagles have to make the Giants pay.