Crushed Optimists

We are twin brothers who grew up in Central Washington. This blog is devoted to the life of Seattle sports fans, as well as various other topics that we will espouse for your enjoyment. We could be called another OFFICIAL SEATTLE SEAHAWKS site, but we'll take our uneducated crack at the Mariners, Sonics, and Huskies as well. A Seattle Sports Blog? Must be the land... of crushed optimism!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

NFL Week 13: Hawks at Philadelphia

Philadelphia Eagles: 5-6
2005 Home Record: 4-1


Offense:

Quarterback: Matt Hasselbeck (2606 yds, 14 TDs, 8 INTs) vs Mike McMahon (425 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT)
This is a matchup that sure would have looked differently a few weeks ago. Donovan McNabb is a premier quarterback. Mike McMahon is a backup quarterback. There's a fairly significant difference between the two, as I'm sure you all understand. McMahon has played decently his first two starts, with only the one interception he is keeping his mistakes to a minimum. That's also a byproduct of a seismic change in Philly's offense, as he is not being asked to carry much of anything. McMahon is a running threat, but if Seattle could handle Michael Vick, they can handle Mike McMahon. Matt Hasselbeck is throwing a few more interceptions than I would like, but really, as we have discussed, he is having to force a few more balls than he would like due to not having Darrell Jackson for such a long time. However, he has had two subpar weeks in a row now, and we need him to step up against a defense that will be keyed against Shaun Alexander. Advantage: Seattle

Running Back: Shaun Alexander (1339 yds, 20 TDs) vs Brian Westbrook (600 yds, 3 TDs, 4 TDs receiving)
Andy Reid has discovered the fact he has a pretty good running back in Brian Westbrook the past few weeks, which has been one of the more fascinating subplots of the mess the Eagles have dealt with this season. I'm not sure what exactly happened this offseason, but somehow Westbrook went from being one of the most dangerous players in the NFL a year ago to a third down back playing every down. I personally was a little upset about it since Westbrook was on my fantasy team. Still, Westbrook finally had a 100 yard game last week against Green Bay and will be the focal point of the offense on Monday. However, Westbrook is not named Shaun Alexander. Shaun showed me some 2004 Shaun last week, which I wasn't pleased with. He went down on first contact a few times where I think he could have run over the corner cutting off the end. In the second half he reverted back to 2005 Shaun and ran with authority. You can see the huge difference that makes in our offense. We need 2005 Shaun for the whole game this week. Advantage: Seattle

Receivers: Seattle (230 receiving yards/game) vs Philadelphia (266 receiving yards/game)
Another preview that would have been significantly different a few weeks ago. Philadelphia with Terrell Owens = advantage. Philadelphia without Terrell Owens = nothing. I mean, Greg Lewis? Greg Lewis? Reggie Brown is nothing special yet. LJ Smith is basically an overhyped Jerramy Stevens. The stats look nice until one remembers that the Eagles spent the first half of the season doing nothing but pass the ball. At the end of the day, this is not a group that should strike fear into the hearts of anyone. Now, we are just counting down the days until the return of Darrell Jackson. Look, we need him... badly. Joe Jurevicius has given us a couple terrific games, but he lacks the downfield burst to gain seperation. Bobby Engram can run good routes, but if defenses key on him he can be bodied off those same routes. Jerramy Stevens has disappeared, although it doesn't look like Hasselbeck has even been looking for him, so I don't know how much I can blame Stevens. At the end of the day, this group of receivers cannot force opposing defenses to keep 8 men out of the box. That has to change if we hope to reach the Super Bowl. Yet I have absolutely zero respect for what Philly has to offer. Advantage: Seattle

Offensive Line: Seattle (157 rushing yards/game, 19 sacks) vs Philadelphia (85 rushing yards/game, 19 sacks)
Philadelphia's statistics can be a little misleading since they are only now starting to run the ball. They had an impressive 180 yards last week, and haven't allowed a sack the past two games. This is an offensive line that is hurting, especially with the loss of Tra Thomas. They have to play almost perfectly to cover for their flaws. Our offensive line had its worst performance of the season against the Giants. Not only did Walter Jones allow those two sacks, but they simply could not seal anything for the running game. Now they get to deal with Jeremiah Trotter and that blitzing defense. Sean Locklear has yet another freak to deal with, The Freak, Jevon Kearse. Weirdly enough, I'm not that worried. Locklear has dealt effectively with enough rushers that I can't be too concerned. Call this a rebound game. Advantage: Seattle

Defense:
D-Line: Seattle (109 rushing yards/game, 36 sacks) vs Philadelphia (113 rushing yards/game, 25 sacks)
I don't quite understand how Philadelphia can give up this many rushing yards each week with Jeremiah Trotter, who is an absolute beast against the run. Yet, I've watched this team play a few times and they do not force the tempo of opposing offenses like in past years. They don't get to the quarterback, as evidenced by the sack total. They don't stop the run. I think they miss Corey Simon more than they would like to admit. This week's winner of the Walter Jones Invisibility Award is Trent Cole, who gets to see what life is like when you're facing a pissed off all-world lineman. So basically, don't fear Hollis Thomas and Darwin Walker. They are third string defensive tackles starting. Seattle welcomes back with open arms Marcus Tubbs. Our rushing defense just hasn't been the same without him. Rocky Bernard might be able to get to the quarterback (or usually get lucky when Wistrom and Fisher force the quarterback to step up into his waiting arms), but he is not a four down run stopper. Speaking of Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher, we need them to take advantage of these injuries and make sure Mike McMahon doesn't get comfortable in that pocket. I don't feel like they put consistent pressure at all on Eli Manning last week. At the end of the day, the stats speak for themselves. Advantage: Seattle

Linebackers: This is where the Eagles start to shine. I've already raved about Jeremiah Trotter enough, but the matchup with him against Shaun Alexander will be something else. I'm also a big fan of Keith Adams and especially Dhani Jones. They are big and fast, fill gaps well, and blitz effectively. I'm not entirely sure (men smarter than me could probably answer) why they aren't getting to the quarterback and such, but my guess is that the weakness of the defensive line means that offensive lineman are being able to get out and take care of the second line. These are good linebackers, though, and shouldn't be underrated. Seattle is definitely missing Jaime Sharper, even if Leroy Hill is playing well. Sharper is a leader on the field, and rookies have a tendency to overpursue at times. Our linebackers got tired and out of position near the end of last week's game, and even Lofa Tatupu missed some easy tackles. Even with that, Tatupu was our best defensive player as he cruises towards that Rookie of the Year award. Advantage: Philadelphia

Secondary: Seattle (223 receiving yards/game, 10 INTs) vs Philadelphia (217 receiving yards/game, 11 INTs)
The secondary is where Philadelphia really shines. They have the best one in the NFC, and perhaps in the NFL. While the injury to Lito Sheppard hurt, you have Pro Bowl talent in corner Sheldon Brown and safeties Michael Lewis and Brian Dawkins. This will give the Eagles the ability to stuff the line of scrimmage against Shaun, which will present a challenge to our offense. This is a disciplined bunch who will try to disrupt our timing. I'm not sure if our receivers will be able to gain much separation at all. We will have to try and test Roderick Hood as much as possible. Our secondary will "miss" Kelley Herndon for a few weeks. If this means that Andre Dyson becomes the starter, life will be good. Michael Boulware continues to make big play after big play. Our secondary actually played okay last week, avoiding giving up huge plays. I wasn't a big fan of all the crossing routes we allowed, it reminded me too much of last year. Philly's receivers won't present much of a challenge. Leroy Hill can stay with Brian Westbrook. Not an issue. Advantage: Philadelphia

Special teams: Tom Rouen's first half was everything we could have wanted. Tom Rouen's second half was typical 30 yard nets. Perhaps I should have given us an advantage last week if I'd known Jay Feely was going to choke like that. Maybe here's what I should do... in terms of kickers we are at least as good as David Akers. In terms of punting, coverage, and returning we suck. Advantage: Philadelphia

Prediction: Even in this disappointing season, the Eagles are an impressive 4-1 at home. They will be up for this Monday Night affair, especially as they do not feel they are out of it yet. They are... but still. Jim Johnson is a heck of a defensive coordinator and I expect him to add some interesting wrinkles to the minus-D Jack defense we have faced recently. If we cannot establish the run, this will be a low scoring affair that the Eagles can win. If we can move the ball effectively for the first time in three games we will score over 20, which will be enough to win. I will be at this game, rooting on our squad, and I want to see a victory. Monday Night, baby. Hawks by seven.

posted by Gavin @ 3:17 PM  0 comments

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