Eagles Defense Dominant in Win Over Panthers
How would they handle the loss of FS Brian Dawkins (free agency), MLB Stewart Bradley (injury), and Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson (lost battle with melanoma cancer)?
Would disgruntled CB Sheldon Brown play up to his abilities?
Was the preseason any indication of how this defense would play during the regular season (avg. 30 points against)?
The answers came in a 38-10 rout of the Panthers, in Charlotte.
The defense forced seven Panther turnovers, five from QB Jake Delhomme who was pulled early in the third quarter, and scored a touchdown on a Victor Abiamiri fumble recovery.
Brown had two of the teams five interceptions, Joselio Hanson, Akeem Jordan and Asante Samuel had the others.
Panthers quarterbacks were under pressure all afternoon as the defense had five sacks and allowed just 2.4 yards per completion.
The Eagles held the Panthers to 169 total yards and stopped RB DeAngelo Williams on the one with under a minute to go, clearly in a tribute to the late Johnson as the unit was exuberant coming off the field with many pointing to the sky or to the decal on their helmets honoring him.
After answering all those questions on defense, the Eagles now have a few questions to answer on offense. Most notably, will QB Donovan McNabb be able to play next week against New Orleans after suffering a cracked rib in the third quarter?
If McNabb can't go coach Andy Reid may have a decision to make. Backup Kevin Kolb has been less than impressive when given the opportunity to play, 7-11 for 23 yards with two fumbles Sunday, while third-string QB AJ Feely has had a better than average record when filling in for an injured McNabb.
Many longtime Eagles fans would feel better seeing Feely get the start over Kolb. Keep in mind that Michael Vick is not eligible to play until Week 3.
A decision regarding McNabb's ability to play will be made later this week.
One thing Reid can take comfort in is the rushing attack.
As a team Philadelphia ran the ball 32 times for a total of 185 yards, for an average of 5.8 yards per run. Brian Westbrook saw live action for the first time this year after sitting out the entire preseason while recovering from off-season foot/ankle surgery.
He fin ished the day with 13 carries for 64 yards and also had a four-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
The defense will be asked to step up in a big way next week when the Eagles take on a Saints team coming off a 45-27 win over Detroit. Drew Brees threw for over 350 yards and had six touchdown passes in the win.
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