Philadelphia Eagles Vs. Detroit Lions: Week 2 Preview And Editorial

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Philadelphia Eagles Vs. Detroit Lions: Week 2 Preview And Editorial
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Michael Vick Starting Sunday?

The Detroit Lions will host the Philadelphia Eagles this coming Sunday. Both teams lost the services of their starting QBs last week. Detroit’s Matthew Stafford is projected to miss from two to six weeks with an undisclosed injury to the shoulder of his throwing arm.

Head coach Jim Schwartz says that Stafford will not require surgery, but will be listed in Thursday’s injury report.

Starting defensive end Cliff Avril also left the Chicago game with an unknown knee injury. Avril did return to the game, but is expected to be a day-to-day decision for Sunday‘s game.

Safety Aaron Berry, who had an interception last week, banged up his shoulder, and is also a day-to-day decision.

The Eagles are also a banged up team. QB Kevin Kolb, and starting LB Stewart Bradley both left the home opener against the Packers with concussions.

The NFL has mandated a five step plan for dealing with concussions. The concussed player is given an MRI, and a battery of tests designed to determine the severity of the injury on Monday. The following day, the team doctor, plus a doctor appointed by the NFL (who must be approved by the player) will reexamine the player.

The medical staff will determine to what extent the player can participate in team activities. This process will be repeated daily until the player is deemed cleared to perform.

Eagles head coach Andy Reed has stated that Kolb will get the start in Detroit, if he’s healthy.

The Eagles have some other pressing injury issues. Center Jamaal Jackson is likely lost for the season with a torn bicep muscle on his snapping arm.

Pro Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver suffered a torn ACL, and is out for the remainder of the season.

In spite of this rash of serious injuries, the Eagles bring a formidable team to Detroit. The Lions will have to scheme for two QB’s with contrasting styles.

Kolb is a drop back, stay in the pocket passer. The Lions will see how to best attack Kolb by learning from the Green Bay film. The Packers brought pressure from DE Clay Mathews, who would loop over to the center spot where he had clear rushing lanes to Kolb.

Michael Vick, on the other hand, is a scrambling-type QB who can hurt you with his arm, or with his skills as a rusher. The Lions pass rush will be negated to a large extent by the need to stay home on the outside, forcing plays back to the center of the field.

The Lions can go against either QB with some confidence in their defensive line. The D-line performed admirably in Chicago, getting two sacks on Jay Cutler, and were credited with two amazing goal line stands.

The Eagles possess an array of offensive weapons that will pose some daunting challenges to the Detroit defense.

Tight end Brett Celek, wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Macklin, and former Wolverine Jason Avant will be joined by running backs LeSean McCoy, and Mike Bell.

Jackson piled up 1,156 yards receiving, and nine TD’s in 2009. Last week, the three wide receivers had four catches each. The Eagles spread the ball around.

LeSean McCoy rushed seven times for 35 yards. Eagles QB’s rushed for 104 yards. One yard by Kolb, and 103 yards by Vick, on 11 carries.

There’s no doubt about it, the Eagles are a pass-happy team, unless Vick is at the wheel.

On defense, the Eagles are a solid group. Linebacker Ernie Sims has been reborn in Philly. Sims had five tackles last week and is a hyperactive defender on the weak side.

Rookie safety Nate Allen had five tackles and an interception last week. He’s the real deal, and should compete for Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The 4-3 defensive front four is rookie Wolverine Brandon Graham (LDE), Mike Patterson (LDT), Broderick Bunkley (RDT), and Trent Cole (RDE). Cole, who registered six tackles last week, is the player to watch.

The Lions offensive line should, for the most part, keep the front four in check. There’s no Julius Peppers level of talent up front, but taken as a whole, the front four is anything but a weakness.

The Lions offense, which amassed 168 total net yards against Chicago, must do a better job rushing the ball, and converting on third downs. With 20 net yards rushing, and a conversion rate of four out of 14, it stands as a systemic failure.

Was it poor play calling by offensive coordinator Scott Linehan? Or, was it the many dropped first down passes?

Tight end Tony Scheffler had as many catches as did Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, and Bryant Johnson combined.

That's pitiful.

The Lions defense is OK for now. Barely. The failure of Calvin Johnson’s epic no catch was less of a contributing factor than the 89 yard screen pass to Matt Forte for a TD.

Even the side judge outran the Lions defense on that play. He made it look easy too.

 

Conclusion

The Lions are in a must win situation against the Eagles. Lose this game, and the Lions will suffer through a stretch that would sap their self confidence, as well as the confidence of the fans.

Win this game, and the Lions will be buoyed enough to be as competitive as we have hoped that they would be, despite the brutal schedule ahead of them.

I, for one, do not wish to be looking forward to the 2011 NFL draft by Week 8.

 

Miscellaneous Impedimenta

This will be my last word regarding the “no catch” fiasco that robbed the Lions of an all but certain victory in Chicago.

The ruling on the field was a touchdown. The ruling was overturned by the referee, as well as the replay official.

There will be a lasting consequence of this ruling that will bring about a rash of injuries to receivers.

If a receiver must demonstrate control throughout the so called “process”, the defenders will have free rein to tee off on receivers even when they are on the ground.

I foresee a climate where severe injuries will be suffered by receivers and defenders alike as the defenders attack a receiver viciously while on the ground. The ground is unyielding.

Injuries aside, we will see a plethora of late hits, spearing, unnecessary roughness, and incomplete passes as receivers come under heightened scrutiny as a result of last week’s unfortunate episode in extremely poor judgment.

The NFL has opened a Pandora's box of the controversy that is certain to follow.

I hope that the NFL’s competition committee takes this matter up as soon as possible, and takes under consideration the lasting consequences of doing nothing.

I suspect that nothing will be done until someone is irreparably damaged by the rule, as it now stands.

A bitter legacy, indeed.

 

Mike Sudds is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.

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