(Originally Posted: Friday September 17, 2010)
With last week’s calamity in the books, it’s time to move on and focus on this week’s opponent, the Detroit Lions. But before we get into that, let me say a little something about the quarterback “situation.” If you think Michael Vick is going to be the Eagles starting QB the rest of the season, do yourself a favor and just stop reading right now. You clearly do not know enough about how this organization is run to understand what I’m going to be writing about. Go call sports radio and bitch about it, or post on a stupid message board (or my comments) or just jump off the Ben Franklin Bridge. It doesn’t matter if Kolb is out for two weeks and Vick throws for 718 yards and rushes for another 200 in those games, the Birds are pot committed to Kolb. Good, bad or indifferent, Reid and management think Kolb is the future, and starting Vick for the whole season does nothing for this team, except maybe get them in the playoffs; but not the Super Bowl. They did not trade McNabb to tread water this year. They traded him because they believe Kolb is the future of this team, and they’ll ride this whole team into the ground this year, just to prove they are right. Reid is as stubborn as a government mule (hat tip: Jim Ross), so 2010 is the year of Kolb, and he’ll retake the reigns once his head stops spinning. And lets stop overreacting to how he looked after LESS THAN ONE HALF OF FOOTBALL, people. Give the kid a chance.
Okay, now that I got that off my chest, lets look ahead to this week’s opponent, the Detroit Lions. The Lions were my sleeper team of 2010, and they got royally S-C-R-E-W-E-D last week. Yes, Calvin Johnson should have held on to the ball, and that rule seems to have been interpreted differently over the last decade and the Lions should have won that game. With that said, it’s not our problem. And the Birds also caught a break (excuse the pun) with Stafford being out for the game. While Stafford is developing into a nice quarterback, he isn’t any great shakes yet but he’s head and shoulders above their backup. Could anyone have named Shaun Hill as their backup before last week? Sean McDermott should be able to throw some unconventional blitz packages to confuse Hill. Since the Jim Johnson era, there’s a pattern of the Eagles blitzes having a significant better level of success against the inexperienced quarterbacks vs. experienced. (For those of you counting, this is my first of many statements stating the obvious.)
Kouch Keys (Wow, is that lame. Please offer suggestions for a better name for this.)
- Vick Needs To Make Good Decisions
Vick looked good in the Packers game, but it was obvious that they had not game planned for him. The Lions will be ready for a full 60 minutes against him. It’s imperative that Vick needs to be the Gambler, Kenny Rogers’ style. He needs to know when to hold it, know when to throw it, know when to walk away and know when to run. (Man, I’m hacky today) He had a golden opportunity to run into the end zone on 3rd down late in last week’s game, but he was struck with a case of McNabb-itis, trying to prove he’s not a running quarterback and forced an ill advised throw into double coverage. Vick needs to focus on winning the game, and not how he does it. Surprisingly, he doesn’t look to care about his stats, but he does seem very concerned about getting a shot at being a starter somewhere next year. You know what GM’s will notice, Michael: WINS.
- Throw the Ball to D-Jax, Dammit!
Last week, Jackson was minimally involved. He had four catches for 30 yards, all in the 2nd half. That’s not going to get the job done. Detroit has a solid front seven defense, but lucky their secondary is the acheillies heel. This is a game where Jackson should be able to break off a couple of nice long catches. Vick has a cannon for an arm, so it shouldn’t be a problem. If Jackson doesn’t have over 100 yards in this game, I have a hard time seeing the Birds winning.
- Omar Gaither Needs To Play Up To His Old Potential
With Bradley out, after stumbling around on the field like my buddy Balloonknot during Saturday Night Shenanigans, Gaither is going to get the start at middle linebacker. As hard as it is to believe now, Gaither actually had over 100 tackles in 2007. Bradley has passed stage 2 of the concussion testing today (which I believe is coloring within the lines), so it looks like he’ll be back for Week Three, so please for the love of God, Omar, have a good game out there.
- Be Better Than Best
With Stafford out this week, look for the Lions to concentrate on their running game. And that means heavy doses of rookie Jahvid Best. Sorry to tell all you fantasy nerds out there (present company included), but early on it looks like Best, and not Spiller or Matthews will be the top rookie running back this season. If the Eagles can bottle him up early, and put the game into Hill’s hands, good things are bound to happen. I can see seven, eight and even nine guys in the box, to try and shut down Best and forcing Hill to beat them.
- Win the Turnover Battle
To win in the National Football League, you have to win the turnover battle. (Did I sound enough like an ESPN blowhard? I’ll try harder next week.) This to me is a key every single week. When you look at the teams in the playoffs every year, it’s the teams with the highest turnover differential. If they stop Best, pressure Hill, the defense should have no problem creating turnovers. It even smells like a prime game for Asante to return one for points. As for when the Birds are on offense, Vick’s bound to do at least one stupid thing (on the field), but hopefully his mistakes are less egregious than the Lions.
- The Pick
I know you’ve all read through all this crap to get to my pick at the end, but I’m horrible at picking games and worse at final scores. Especially Eagles games, because I’m just so damn biased. As I’ve been saying since the draft and all through the pre-season, I’m have no idea what this team is going to look like. The first game didn’t help at all. I would like the Eagles here a little bit more if the Lions had won last week, but I’ll still go with Eagles 23 Lions 20.