September 17, 2008

The Battle for PA...


Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Miles apart, literally and figuratively. We eat Primanti's and drink Iron City. They eat Pat's cheesesteaks (with whiz) and drink Yuengling. But for all of our differences, we're really not so different. At least in some respects.

For instance, contrary to how it may seem, we're both from Pennsylvania. I mean, that's gotta count for something, right? Also, we both know what it's like to experience the futility of a Major League Baseball franchise. And then who can forget, we're both from Pennsylvania. Yeah, I got nothin'...

Our football teams, however, while similar on Defense, diverge when it comes to Offense. The Eagles run that West Coast style and our Steelers, well, we like to run the ball. Philly relies almost exclusively on Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. Sure, it's nice when Greg Lewis, Hank Baskett, and most recently, Desean Jackson can be a major factor. But that's more the exception than the rule.

Brian Westbrook is a running back (I guess), a wide receiver, a tight end and though I've never seen it, it wouldn't surprise me if they let him throw a few rocks as well. He's currently 14th overall in rushing yards, while part of a 3-way tie for 1st in rushing TDs. And I don't have the numbers on it, but I'm willing to bet he's high up on the list for all purpose yards. Not to mention front of the line for the kiddie coaster.

Then, there's Donovan McNabb. He's primarily a pocket, high percentage passer. But a damn good one at that. Behind a line that could make even Tommy Maddox look like Joe Montana (ok, now I'm talking crazy). Through two games this season, he's 2nd in the league in passing yards, 6th in the league in QB rating (a respectable 114.1), and part of a six way tie for 2nd in the league in passing TDs.

Of course, in case you hadn't checked recently, Big Ben is #1 in QB rating, tied for 3rd in TD passes, and um, 20th in passing yards. But never mind that. Willie Parker is 3rd in the league in rushing yards, whilst also tied for 1st in rushing TDs thanks to that disgusting game he had against the Texans.

But what worries me is this - we're built to stop the run first, blitz second (hmm, maybe those are one and the same for us), and defend the pass, last. The Eagles hardly do anything you could call "running the ball," and their passing game tends to favor quick passes, which just may allow McNabb to avoid a blitz and exploit one of our bigger weaknesses.

Anyways, I think what I'm getting at is - unlike our first two, this one's going to be a real game. And none too soon if you ask me. We have played pattycake with a couple of 1st graders these past two weeks. Now, it's time to tango with some bigger fish. In fact, if you believe the media pundits, a Super Bowl contender. Or something like that.

So we've already talked about it a little bit in the comments this week, but what do you guys think? Formidable foe? Worthy opponent? Or just next in line to get popped in the mouth?

Oh yeah, and it sounds like Deshea's going to miss his 2nd game in a row. Bryant McFadden better wear his big boy pants again. He's on notice.

17 comments:

tecmo said...

Those beers would be awfully hard to drink...

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Good analysis. The Eagles have been very impressive early on, even in the loss at Dallas, which is no disgrace. Silverback, The Wood, Troy & Co. are going to have their hands full. Hopefully, Dick LeBeau knows a thing or two about defense.

matt said...

I think Philly will be a very tough test. They are probably top 3in the NFC. What worries me most is the Westbrook factor, those little dink and dunk crossing patterns that they run out of the backfield. The Pats always eat us up with those (welker/faulk) & we can never seem to stop those 5-7 yd gains. They are demoralizing to a Defense if it works all day. I hope we can find a way to neutralize that & we should be fine.

Ben should have a nice day passing as long as he's not forced to throw 25+ times, then we get one dimensional.

random asshole said...

Is Philly really Yuengling country? I know I drank plenty of it when I lived in the 'burgh.

Victory Brewing Company is just as close to Philly as Pottsville is. And Victory makes some good beer.

As you can tell, I have nothing substantive to say today.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how Polamalu plays. Will he drop deep to cover DeSean Jackson? Or will he rush McNabb? Or will he clog the intermediate passing lanes to try to disrupt what they do with Westbrook and the tight end? I suppose you could ask the same questions about James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley. Should be interesting.

Cotter said...

tec ~ An experience drinker finds his way around such snafus...but you know, I wouldn't expect you to know that (tec's not drinking).

jppb ~ Shit, you mean we have to rely on the "genius" of Dick LeBeau. Man are we going to lose hard...[sarcasm makes the world go 'round]

matt ~ Yeah, the thing is, when you blitz your middle linebackers so much like we do and your corners are busy covering receivers, it leaves that space pretty open for your opposition. They may be wise to use The Law (Timmons) a lot more in this game because of his speed. That and have Troy come up to help.

random asshole ~ I mean Yuengling, like terrorism, is everywhere. But Philly likes to claim it. As for substantive commenting, you know the policy - the more random, the better. Do your moniker proud.

anon ~ Good point. I feel like they'll have to bring Troy up, at least a decent amount. But that leaves Ryan Clark to cover the Eagles receivers, including Desean Jackson, deep. Doesn't exactly make me very comfortable. I guess we shall see...Thanks for the comment!!

Noah said...

The Eagles are def. not just another team to pop in the mouth. It will be a good game. Coming from Lancaster, PA, there is no shortage of Eagles fans, since we're 1 1/2 hour away from Philly and roughly 4 hours from the 'Burgh, but we're plenty represented here too.

I think it all starts with Westbrook. Stop him, this makes McNabb win by his arm. The only problem is, he can do that, even with average wrs. I was watching the Dallas game and even with those receivers, he was basically carving up Dallas's D. Our D has to play real real big for this one.

As for our Offense, the Eagles have some good secondary players. I say we give em a taste of their own medicine with Holmes (like Desean Jackson.) But only after we give them a steady dose of Parker and Wreckingball. I do believe we have to give em both. So Rashard better not screw up.

Get Fresh Designs said...

I don't care how they get it done or what they do, as long as they win. If they don't all I will hear for the rest of the season is how the eagles beat the steelers, I to live on the outer heart of Eagles country in good ol'Lancaster, PA. Too many Eagles fans.

The Immortal Silky Johnson said...

I am contemplating whether to purchase an over priced ticket to the game. If I do attend, friends oftot are more then welcome to dip their hands into my Eagles cooler for a frosty beverage.

It's going to be a really great game. We are coming off a tough game, on a shortweek. Hopefully our maestro of chaos, Jim Johnson, will come up with a better blitzing package this week. Less zone defense, and more manning up?

The Immortal Silky Johnson said...

Tecmo- those beer bottles work like water dishes, with the the reservoir.

Cotter said...

noah ~ Sounds good to me! But I heard Santonio is nursing some minor injury. So hopefully he'll be as close to full strength as possible by Sunday. As for Wreckingball, I agree. Conditions permitting (IE - no rain), I say we find out what he can really do. That said, they'll want to be cautious about when they use him. We wanna get him playing time, but we also wanna win. One way or another, I'd love to see him bust up their D-Line!

doug ~ I hear that! I may actually have the unfortunate luck of watching the game with some Eagles fans. It's going to be hard to contain myself. At least they're chicks, though. That'll help.

By the way, have you noticed I gave up calling you "get fresh." Your veil of deception has been lifted. The world knows your secret. Mwahahahahaha...yeah.

silky ~ I fully expect Jim Johnson to throw his best stuff at us. At the same time, I'm cautiously optimistic that we've got enough weapons to crack the code, if you feel me.

PS - That better not be some fruity ass Bartles and Jaymes in that cooler. Steelers fans like the good stuff. Get some PBR, you sloppy bastard. Kidding. But not about the beer. Seriously, PBR. Make it happen.

Get Fresh Designs said...

I wasn't really hiding myself. So take that!

what's this about tecmo not drinking? is it a health problem, that's the only acceptable answer.

Cotter said...

tec ~ Sounds like the people have spoken, and they demand an answer...

tecmo said...

I smelled a touch of sarcasm dripping from Cotter's "Tec's not drinking" comment.

Just a touch.

I actually can't wait to get off work and go crack one open. Tiring day.

You just won't see me on camera with a beer. I have my reasons. Cotter knows 'em. Maybe I'll let y'all know some day.

Other than that, I'm healthy as a (mini) horse.

Get Fresh Designs said...

awesome.

see i'm an asshole and like to give people shit over nothing, so don't take me too serious.

tobiathan said...

If you can't verbaly assualt and publicly humiliate them *then what ARE friends for*???

Seriously.

----------

I don't think these here Philly-Iggles are all that bad-ass. Somehow i suspect that a certain Mr. Lebeau *might* know a couple things about how to sceme a defense. And for some not-quite-statable reason i like Our Man McFadden better than Deshea in short-pas coverage and hi-quantity tackling situations. I think Townsends just getting a lil older, and it hurts more to have to tackle so much.

And, Westbrook won't be doing a lot of running. Not that he ever does, but our defense is built specifically to take that away. Couple that with the fact that Troy is looking healthy again and Clark has loked good so far i'm pretty comfy with the way we'll handle the short game, both pass and run.

My only issues are with getting beat deep while focusing on short-game play and McNabb's Happy Feet- dude can scoot when he's inclined to do so. And the Eagles TE position is always a mystery: if McNabb happens to find his range up the seam it could create issues with a defensive scheme looking for everything BUT that...

Defensively(for the Eagles), it all rides on Ben's ability to throw those few devastatingly-effective passes he's getting so good at throwing: the play-action fades, the roll out rights, the read-n-react deep bomb to a freed-up San Antonio. If Philly's defense plays tight on these explosive plays our guys make it *might* take some of the wind out of our guys' sails.

All-in-all i look forward to a good, hard-fought game. Nothing worries me more than our guys cruiosing thru an easy early season. Every time we do we seem to stumble later in the year, often in playoff games*.

Steelers 31, Eagles 20


*(Of course, i don't really count ANY playoff game we ever played against NE, since i have zero doubt they somehow cheated, bribed, lied and stole their way into SB's throughout this decade...but that is a whole other issue.)

Big Snack Silverback said...

Like I said, I'm nervous about this one. I think it comes down to game plan, because both teams are very evenly matched in terms of athleticism and skill. I give the nod to us on D, but their O is just as explosive as ours. They will put up some points on us. they will dink and dunk. We just have to make a couple more plays than they do, and not turn the ball over, and we will win by a few. 34-30 the Burgh. I think Ben is the difference. He is going to prove, this year, he is one of the best in the game.