Here is our weekly look at what we will be watching in the Eagles game:
The Tackling. The Bears’ Cover-2 prevented Matt Ryan from throwing deep much last week, and the Eagles probably will play a lot of it as well on Sunday, forcing Ryan to throw underneath and rely on his receiver’s yards-after-the-catch ability. The Eagles must minimize those YAC yards with sure tackling.
Another Week, Another Dome. Considering their newness, the Eagles’ offensive line did a decent job of dealing with the dome noise in St. Louis last week. The Birds were flagged twice for delays, but the line’s only false start came late in the fourth quarter. They’ll get another hearing test this week in the Georgia Dome against a defense that isn’t likely to blitz quite as much as the Rams did.
Controlling Turner. While the Eagles are mainly about stopping the pass, they can’t let Michael Turner run wild. The Eagles gave up 154 rushing yards to the Rams last week, but 90 of them came on their first two possessions. After that, the defense did a much better job of controlling their gaps and held the Rams to 3.4 yards per carry on their last 11 possessions. Of course, it helped that Steve Jackson injured his quad two carries into the game.
Defending Gonzo. The Eagles have had problems the last two years defending the tight end, which is one of the reasons why Juan Castillo moved his most athletic linebacker, Jamar Chaney, to SAM. Tony Gonzalez had two touchdown catches against the Eagles last year, and Chaney and the defense needs to do a better job against the 11-time Pro Bowler Sunday.
Third Down. As third down goes, so usually do the Eagles. They converted 45 percent of their third-down opportunities in their 10 wins last season and just 32.7 in their seven losses. In last week’s win over the Rams, they were an impressive 8-for-12 on third down. Mike Vick converted four third downs of 7 yards or more with his arm and another with his legs.
To read our report from Eagles practice, click here.