Daily News football writer Paul Domowitch tells you the things he will keep his eyes on during the Eagles-Lions game Sunday:
1. Effectiveness of those three- and four-wide receiver sets: The three-wide receiver, one-running back, one-tight end set was the Eagles’ formation of choice even before fullback Leonard Weaver went down with a season-ending knee injury. Now, it will be a way of life, particularly this week against a Lions secondary that is runway model-thin at cornerback. Detroit is going to have trouble matching up with the Eagles when they spread them out with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and Riley Cooper.
2. Stopping the run without Stew: The Lions averaged less than a yard per carry in last week’s loss to the Bears, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try to run against the Eagles, who likely will be without middle linebacker Stewart Bradley. Their rookie running back, Jahvid Best, is a game-breaker. The Eagles struggled against the run after Bradley went down with a concussion against the Packers. His replacement, Omar Gaither, doesn’t bring the physicality to the MIKE position that Bradley does.
3. The new Vick?: Andy Reid insists that Mike Vick, who is expected to replace concussed quarterback Kevin Kolb, no longer is the undisciplined, tuck-it-and-run guy who used to play for the Falcons. Reid says Vick has learned the fundamentals of playing the position and can stay in the pocket and go through his progressions. With the Lions expected to try to pin him in the pocket, we’ll see how far — or how little — he’s come.
4. The not-so special teams: The special teams sullied the reputation of their coach, Bobby April, last week. The kickoff-coverage unit gave up two long returns and their two dangerous return men — DeSean Jackson and Ellis Hobbs — had nowhere to run. Special teams figured to be a strength, not a liability. They need that to be the case on the road this week.
5. Up-front pressure: The Eagles were able to get pressure on Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers without a lot of blitzing. They’ll likely blitz a little more this week against Shaun Hill. But it’s still going to be important to get consistent pressure from their front four. Hill isn’t Mike Vick, but he has enough mobility to get outside the pocket and extend plays. The Eagles need to prevent that.
To read our earlier posts from today, click here.