How the Eagles can beat the Colts
How can the Eagles beat the Colts this afternoon? Here are some notes on what to watch for on offense and defense.
How the Eagles can beat the Colts
I took another look at the Colts' win against the Texans Monday night. Here are my observations on what you can expect today:
When the Colts have the ball...
* Only Vince Young has a higher QB rating than Peyton Manning. Man, I never thought I'd type that sentence. Manning is completing 65.9 percent of his attempts, and his 16 touchdown passes are second to only Drew Brees.
* Maybe the most remarkable aspect of Manning's 2010 campaign is his low interception percentage. For his career, Manning is averaging one interception every 37.3 attempts. This season, he's been picked off just twice (once every 149.5 attempts).
* Manning is doing it with a banged-up group of complementary weapons, and it showed at times last week against Houston. He completed just 57.8 percent of his passes. That was Manning's second-lowest completion percentage in his last 35 starts. In other words, the guy is great, but he's not perfect.
* It'll be interesting to see if the Colts can get anything out of their run game. The Eagles catch a break with both Joseph Addai and Mike Hart out of the lineup. Hart played very well last week, carrying 12 times for 84 yards. Donald Brown figures to get the bulk of the work today. He is also dealing with an injury and was unimpressive last week, carrying nine times for 16 yards. Brown was taken 26 spots ahead of LeSean McCoy in the 2009 draft. He's averaging 3.4 yards per carry for his career.
* Even if the Colts are not successful with their ground game, the Eagles' defense has to be ready for play-action. That means discipline from the linebackers and defensive backs. No jumping offsides either.
* Indy didn't seem to feel the loss of tight end Dallas Clark too much last week. Fill-in Jacob Tamme had six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, including a 26-yard reception. Manning targeted him nine times, and the TD was a red-zone score.
* The Colts have only allowed seven sacks on the season, the fewest of any team in the league. But the Texans definitely had their moments pressuring Manning last week. Specifically, I didn't think right tackle Ryan Diem had a great game. Can Brandon Graham have an impact in this one? Can Juqua Parker get back to the level he was playing at in the beginning of the season? Pressure from the front four will be key.
* Indy was called for nine penalties for 69 yards last week, but on the season, the Colts are averaging five penalties a game, tied for fourth-fewest in the NFL.
* Reggie Wayne is tied for fourth in the league with 641 receiving yards and 91.6 yards per game. He does have four drops on the season, including one last week. Wayne's 77 targets are fourth-most in the league. And 37 of his receptions have netted first downs, the second-most in the NFL.
* Wide receiver Pierre Garcon is coming on also. He has 11 catches for 181 yards in his last two games.
When the Eagles have the ball...
* It all starts with the Colts' defensive ends - Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Freeney picked up a sack on his devastating spin move in the first quarter of last week's game on a 3rd-and-10 play. Don't be surprised if the Eagles give Jason Peters, who is coming off an injury, some help on the left side.
* On the right side, Winston Justice will have his hands full with Mathis. Don't forget - with Vick at quarterback, Justice is protecting the blind side. Again, the Eagles should count on giving him some help with the tight ends and running backs.
* When discussing Peters, people generally focus on pass protection, but he is a far superior run blocker to King Dunlap. Don't be surprised if LeSean McCoy finds some room to run on the left side behind Peters and Todd Herremans. Arian Foster picked up 33 yards on a run to that side last week.
* Play-action has not been as effective for Vick as it's been for Kevin Kolb, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles took advantage of fakes today. The Colts' defense looked somewhat vulnerable to play-action last week.
* The Eagles get a break with Colts linebacker Clint Session being out. He had a sack early last week and also made a great play against the run.
* Expect a screen or two to McCoy early to offset the aggressiveness of the Colts' defensive ends. McCoy leads the NFL with 392 yards after the catch.
* The Texans were 3-for-11 last week on third down. That won't get it done for the Eagles today. The good news for Birds fans is that Vick has a 122.5 QB rating on third down.
* Vick should be ready for some different looks. On a 3rd-and-2 last week, the Colts showed seven at the line of scrimmage, but dropped three back into coverage. On the pick-six in the first half, they came with a linebacker blitz, sending five after Matt Schaub.
* In the Colts' loss to the Jaguars in Week 4, David Garrard had five rushes for 44 yards. In other words, Vick should have chances to make plays with his legs.
And finally, don't forget that I'll be live chatting from the Linc at 4:15 p.m.
And download the 2010 MTC app from the ITunes store.