The abundance of coverage on Donovan McNabb's return to Philadelphia Sunday has mostly centered on topics that aren't likely to have a real impact on the game itself. Will McNabb be cheered or booed? Who has more pressure to win, McNabb or head coach Andy Reid? Does this game mean more to both teams than any other in the early-season slate? But how much will McNabb's familiarity with the Eagles' personnel and scheme actually affect the action on the field in what truly is an important divisional tilt?
McNabb's knowledge of the Eagles offense was surely put to use in helping the Redskins game plan defensively during the week. But McNabb also watched from the sidelines in practice for years as the Eagles defense went to work. Specifically, he was able to observe some of the pre-snap adjustments made by the linebackers and defensive linemen. So how much of that on-field verbage is the same from McNabb's tenure?
"They're similar; similar to the things when he was here," Reid said earlier in the week. "We've added a couple new little things in there, but similar."
But that's where the chess match comes in. What if the Eagles fake those calls just to throw McNabb off? It becomes a guessing game and with only a few precious seconds before each snap, it's unlikely that McNabb would be willing to drastically change a play based on defensive calls familiar to him.
"Even if he knows what it means, it won't affect anything," said defensive tackle Mike Patterson.
"Every week we come into the game with a different game plan," said middle linebacker Stewart Bradley. "We're not just running our base stuff. We have different blitzes. That's for every opponent."
It's one of many intriguing sub-plots within the game on Sunday. But when McNabb and the Redskins offense does eventually line up against the Eagles defense, it will come down to one of cornerback Asante Samuel's favorite sayings: every man beat a man. The scheming and scouting has been done all week. On Sunday, the Eagles just have to beat the man across the line.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 3:30 p.m., October 2