Philadelphia Eagles: Game Plan for Beating the Detroit Lions

Bill Riccette@@Bill_RiccetteCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2012

September 30, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (23) runs back his interception against the New York Giants during fourth quarter action at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-US PRESSWIRE

After a heartbreaking loss in Week 5 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the 3-2 Philadelphia Eagles return home for a key NFC matchup against the 1-3 Detroit Lions. Here are some keys to watch for.


How to Control Megatron

Any NFL fan will tell you that if you want to beat the Lions, you have to figure out a way to stop Calvin Johnson from going nuts.

Johnson has three very productive games, two of at least 100 yards, one with 94 yards. Yet, somehow the Lions are 1-3.

Obviously, that is through no fault of Johnson. He has the ability to change a game in one play.

So how can the Eagles slow him up?

Really, it is near impossible to slow him up. But one idea they can try is to roll coverage over his way. Line up either Nnamdi Asomugha or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie man up on him, and then roll the safeties to his side.

The risk this runs is you would most likely leave Titus Young one-on-one. However, outside of the Tennessee game, Young has been invisible this season. Take away his Week 3 performance; Young has three catches for 42 yards.

This seems like a risk worth taking if the Eagles feel they can handle Young one-on-one. The last time the Eagles played the Lions, Johnson caught four balls for 50 yards and a touchdown. The opportunity is there to double- or even triple-team Megatron.

However, you may leave yourself vulnerable in other areas besides the Z receiver, as referenced by...


Do Not Let Pettigrew and the Run Game Beat You

Yes, Johnson only had 50 yards in their last meeting. But the rest of the Lions offense more than made up for it.

Tight end Brandon Pettigrew caught seven balls for 108 yards in that 2010 game. And Jahvid Best went insane, catching nine balls for a whopping 154 yards and a touchdown, including a 75-yard screen pass for that touchdown.

It should be noted that Shaun Hill was the starter in that game.

Now, Best is still on the PUP list with his concussion. Mikel Leshoure has now taken the reins as the top back in Detroit, but he did not have a strong performance in Week 4 against Minnesota, after exploding onto the scene in Week 3 against Tennessee.

As we've seen so far, the Eagles run defense in susceptible to big runs, so it will be interesting to see how they try to contain Leshoure. All this while trying to contain Pettigrew across the middle, which can also be considered part of the Lions run game, with how many dump-offs Matthew Stafford uses.

The three linebackers will have a big task ahead of them. Speaking of the linebackers, Akeem Jordan is back after missing last week with a hamstring injury.

Watch for the Lions to try to attack the Eagles with Leshoure early to see if they can get something with their run game, or if they are going to have to hit the air attack.


Attack the Depleted Secondary

I agree that the Eagles need to run more. In close games, LeSean McCoy needs the ball in his hands. However, this is a game where going deep a few times would not hurt, either.

Lions safety Louis Delmas is questionable and may miss yet another game with his nagging knee injury. Delmas was limited Wednesday and Thursday and was downgraded to no practice on Friday. His prospects do not look good for today. Even if he plays, expect him to be on a snap count.

Without Delmas, the Lions have been a little shaky at times against the pass, although they are 10th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (Eagles ranked ninth).

John Wendling has started in place on Delmas and can be thrown on. It goes without saying that the Lions really miss Delmas. Now back to the run game.


Can the Eagles Establish a Run Game?

I would love to get inside the heads of Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg and find out why McCoy is only receiving 16 carries in a game where the Eagles' largest deficit was just 10.

Now they face a Lions team that ranks 13th in rushing yards allowed per game at 102.8 and are 17th in yards per carry allowed at 4.1.

We would like to see McCoy involved more, but even if so, it could still be tough as Detroit boasts a solid linebacker corps of Justin Durant, Stephen Tulloch and DeAndre Levy. I'd like to see more screens, which may keep the Lions on their toes.

But we are five weeks into the season, and the Eagles just don't seem that committed to the run, so all this may be just wishful thinking.


Pass Rush, Where Are You?

Another thing the Eagles seem to be shying away from is the blitz. They seem content with rushing just the front four, but they have gotten little to no pressure on quarterbacks as of late.

I can hardly think of any time where Ben Roethlisberger was under any duress the entire game. Let Mychal Kendricks rush the quarterback. Bring a safety into the box—something. Anything.

Just rushing the front four is not getting the job done. I'd like to see Stafford feel the heat. The Eagles cannot afford to let Stafford to sit in the pocket all day, or they will get burned.



Figuring out the Eagles is like figuring out a jigsaw puzzle. You don't know which offensive line will show up, which Michael Vick will show up, if the run defense will tighten up—it's just hard to tell.

This is a big game for the Eagles. They have their bye next week and want to go into that bye on a high note at 4-2, before a critical game against a Falcons team I expect to be 6-0 going into that game.

But as mentioned before, the Lions are coming off their bye and want to do something to try and turn this ship around before it completely sinks.

No Corey Williams for the Lions and Cliff Avril is questionable. That will hurt the Lions pass rush. This has the makings of what we saw in Detroit-Tennessee: an epic shootout. Let's go...

Eagles 35, Lions 31

Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa will have the call today on FOX at 1 p.m.


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