Smashed in the middle of Game 1 and Game 2 of the NLDS, the Eagles will be desperate to win this game to avoid not only the nightmare of 1-3 but to prevent being completely marginalized again by the Phillies playoff success.
Some points to look for today:
— Mike Vick needs to not only show he’s healthy but show he’s capable of taking over games again. Because unfortunately it looks like teams have mostly figured him out and he’s obviously not smart enough to really adapt.
— DeSean Jackson needs to start showing why he deserves that huge new contract (which he does).
— The offensive line needs to continue to improve. Vick’s inability to read a defense and feel the blitz is one thing, but the line needs to do their part as well. They also need to continue to look solid in the run game, a pleasant if somewhat surprising development.
— DO NOT let LeSean McCoy get hurt. He’s more valuable to this team than Vick or anyone else. Of course, that doesn’t mean don’t use him. Run him down their throats. Just make sure you don’t give him the ball eight straight times then empty the backfield.
— Speaking of utter stupidity, the playcalling needs to improve. A lot. And immediately.
— Keep that d-line humming. The wide nine has looked great, generating consistent pressure. Trent Cole and Jason Babin have lived up to every prediction for them in Jim Washburn’s scheme.
— Jamar Chaney needs to step up in the middle. He can’t be much worse than the finally benched Casey Matthews but that doesn’t mean Chaney gets to slack off. He needs to be especially strong at the point since the wide nine by design leaves the second line exposed. The linebackers desperately need to improve or Frank Gore, even at less than 100%, is going to gash them like the Phillies hitters slapping the Cardinals. Keep an eye on new starter Brian Rolle at weak side linebacker. He’s small but fast and has a gamer’s instincts.
— Nate Allen had better be healthy with Kurt Coleman on the bench. Speaking of splinters, it’s past time rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett removes his. The Eagles really need an intimidating presence in the secondary and Jarrett can bring the wood. He’s still likely not ready and it’s a major disappointment that a second-round pick can’t get on the field, but he can’t look much worse. UPDATE: Jarrett is finally active and will see the first NFL action of his career. Let’s hope he takes off that prima donna Michael Crabtree’s head.
— They need to stop screwing around with Nnamdi Asomugha. He’s arguably the top man-to-man cover corner in the NFL yet they keep making him play zone. It’s maddening. Just lock him up on someone and leave him alone.
Game time at Lincoln Financial Field is 1pm. Follow the game and post in the PSC Eagles Gameday Thread right here.