The Eagles return home after a win, albeit a win in which the word “ugly” is an understatement. The Ravens look to make sure the Eagles don’t win, ugly or otherwise when they come to Philadelphia. The Ravens are riding a win in which they put 44 points on division rival Cincinnati. The Eagles look to keep pace in a what promises to be a tight NFC East while the Ravens look to gain an early lead on their division counterparts.
1. Mike Vick needs to play better
This one is obvious but its really number 1. He has to read the defense and not try and force the ball when he’s under pressure. He will not get away with the mistakes he made against the Brown when playing the Ravens. Granted it was his worst performance in an Eagles uniform and his team came away with a win, in which he threw a game winning TD. However, he would not even be in that situation against a team that was able to score. The Ravens just dropped 40 points on what we believe is a decent defensive team in Cinci.
2. RUN THE FUCKING BALL, FAT MAN!!!
That’s my most repeated phrase from last week (and many prior weeks) when watching the Eagles. The offensive line was almost as poor as Vick himself last week… until the Eagles decided to run the ball when they were down. All of the sudden a light came on for the line and even Vick. This team has an elite running back in McCoy and a stable of capable back ups… they need to use them. It’ll help Vick since the defense won’t be able to pin its ears back and rush him all game, and it’ll help make the play action effective, which Reid seems hell bent on using despite no one in the stadium believing he is going to run the ball. I would guess, based on Reid’s history, that he won’t commit to the run until its too late.
3. Can the defense hold up?
Demeco Ryans and company held the Browns’ offense from putting the game away at every turn, despite being put in poor position nearly all game. They are going to be tested by a far more potent offense this week and an elite running back. Flacco is streaky but he can hang a lot of points on an defense when he’s on. This will be a real test for a defense that was poor last season against anyone with a mediocre NFL offense, so they still need to prove that they’ve turned it around..
4. Eliminate the mistakes.
12 penalties for over 100 yards and 5 turnovers is not a recipe for a win. The Eagles got lucky that they were playing a rookie QB who may have been over his head and a rookie running back coming off an injury. This is not the case this week and the prognosis is not good if the Eagles hope to win with that kind of play.
5. The long ball
It may be that the Browns were shutting it down last week, but the Eagles need to take shots down field because that is what this team is built to do. They met with success last week after attempting to stretch the field and its no coincidence. It opens this offense up and they need to take a few more shots than they did last week.
He needs to be involved in every facet of the game. The Eagles still haven’t shown they can stop an elite running game. I would run it up their throat early and often as well as use the screen and misdirection to throw off Eagles pursuit. The one time the Eagles really let the Browns gain yards on the ground was off a reverse.
2. Blitz Vick for the whole game.
Until Vick can show he’s capable of handling a blitz and not making stupid decisions when the pressure is on, the Ravens need to blitz him and hit him. The Ravens have the personnel to do it and the talent in the secondary to make up for loss of support coverage due to a blitzer. Hit Vick.
3. Joe Flacco must be on.
The Eagles can cover. They may not be as good as the sum of their parts, but they are good. They can take the ball away, and they look like they are getting better at stopping the big play. Beat ‘em with check downs and see if their tackling has improved. Flacco needs to be on his game because the Eagles will bring pressure, and he may have to make quick decisions.
4. Push up the middle
Ngata, Kemoeatou, and company need to take advantage of the Eagles’ inexperienced (and smaller) interior o-line. Kelce and Watkins are entering their second years as players and along with Evan Mathis may be physically overmatched by the Ravens interior d-lineman. Collapsing the pocket on Vick, who has happy feet under the best of circumstances, is a recipe for an instant win. The Eagles running plays also tend to take a long time to develop, so interior push will get Reid thinking throw as soon as a few running plays go for no gain or negative yardage.
5. Win the turnover battle
This is the biggest no brainer in the history of no brainers, I know, but it holds true. Every announcer uses this cliche but there’s a reason for it. Forcing turnovers wins games. The Ravens have the personnel to make Vick uncomfortable. When Vick is uncomfortable he coughs the ball up in one way or another. The Ravens need to limit mistakes on the other side of the ball to keep the Eagles’ defense from doing the same.