The Eagles defense began to leak oil weeks back on Sunday Night against the Panthers who ran the ball very well that night. Dallas ran the ball pretty effectively as well the next game even without Tony Romo to worry about. Miami is not a great rushing offense so I wont really count that game, but even still the Eagles rush defense did not look as effective as earlier in the season. The backbreaker was the Bucs game where we all know how Doug Martin morphed into Walter Payton for 3 hours. Heading into this season my fellow blogger and I praised how great this front three was of Ced Thornton, Bennie Logan and Fletcher Cox. I’m honestly not sure if their play as a whole has dipped or the problem is solely at the linebacker level with Demeco Ryans and Kiko Alonso not fully healthy. It could be a mixture of both, but I still have more faith in the front three impacting a game than the linebackers at this point. The secondary looked as if it was showing signs of improvement and then Jameis Winston torched them with ease. Byron Maxwell for me is no better than Nnamdi and I know that some people might disagree with that. Maxwell has made one play this year and it was Week 2 when he punched the ball out from Cowboys wide receiver Terrence Williams. Other than that Maxwell is consistently playing off coverage and not the physical style corner we thought we were getting from the Seahawks. Nolan Carroll looked like a significant upgrade as the second corner and now even his play has took a turn for the worse in recent weeks. Hang on Eagles fans should be a fun Thanksgiving.
Player to Watch: Mychal Kendricks
I thought Kendricks was the one player on defense who was a positive this past Sunday. The issues with Kendricks are his health for one and his consistency as well. He’ll flash on certain plays and then disappear for the next three series. Now that he’s inked a four year contract extension he’ll need to find his spot within this defense because I can tell you Jordan Hicks will be a starter when he returns next season. Kiko Alonso is not full strength and anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool. That being said I want to see Kendricks on the field for the majority of the linebacker snaps. Demeco Ryans and Alonso should be the ones rotating in not Kendricks. There was much speculation leading up to the draft and afterwards of Kendricks not being apart of the future for this defense. He signed his contract to end that talk so now let the guy play and prove why he’s worth the money.
Player to Watch: Ameer Abdullah
Abdullah is an electric rookie running back who has provided some wow plays for Lions fans this season. Those have been few and far between by the way in the city of Detroit. The rookie out of Nebraska is dynamic in the kick return game and used as a receiver out of the backfield. The negative is ball security for Abdullah which has prevented him from leap frogging Joique Bell for the starting gig. Charles Sims exploited the Eagles last weekend as a similar type back, but Abdullah has even more talent than Sims does. I could easily see Abdullah ripping off a long screen pass in this game or taking a kickoff back against the disappointing Eagles special teams.
Matchup to Watch: Calvin Johnson vs. Byron Maxwell
I discussed my disappointment with Maxwell in the opening paragraph and how painfully awful he’s been this season. He’ll have another opportunity to shut me up on Thursday when he lines up against still one of the premier wide receivers in the league, Calvin Johnson. Megatron has fallen off a tad in the past few seasons more than likely due to injuries and also the erratic play of Matt Stafford. Johnson is still an elite talent and can abuse any secondary in the league when he’s at full go. Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson are taller wide receivers who had a field day last week at the Linc so the odds are in Johnson’s favor to have a big day. Maxwell needs to show me he can earn even the slightest bit of that mega contract and stay with a top flight receiver in the NFL.
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