There's been a "Phoney War" quality to this season so far that, thankfully, should end Sunday when we finally play, a) a real team, b) with our starting quarterback.
I'm extremely curious about what we're going to see Sunday afternoon. Not the players so much. Other than McNabb we have a pretty good handle on where everyone is right now, although there will be interesting questions about how some of the new guys match up with the physical Giants. I'm more interested in the game plan.
There's been a significant split between how the offensive and defensive coaches have approached this season. McDermott's crew has been showing a ton of new (or revivified) stuff every week. We like to talk about how the Wildcat forces teams to spend extra time in preparation, but imagine having to get ready to face the Eagles' crazy quilt of blitzing defenses.
The net effect is scheme overload. You can prepare for everything you've seen, but that's still a lot to prepare for.
On the offensive side, we've seen a different approach. The only game the Eagles really took the wraps off was the first contest with Kolb against the Saints. Reid and Marty tried to take some of the load off their young QB by opening up the playbook and rolling out a far more creative collection of plays from their "Spread Eagle" package than we've seen any week since.
In fact, the past couple weeks the SE offense has basically been a couple snaps to Vick and some direct-snap running plays by McCoy. We've seen very few of the true Wildcat plays, and the other stuff we sort of expect to be in the package (note: includes passing) has been nowhere to be found.
On Sunday, I expect these roles to finally reverse. On the defensive side, the number one priority is shutting down the Giants' run game. Do that first, then if you get a lead, go after Eli with all your craziness.
For the offense, without Brian Westbrook, there are going to be three priorities:
- Protect McNabb
- Get the ball to DeSean
- Use your creative schemes to get the ball to the young guys in ways that aren't just "line up and beat that veteran"
And of course, if number three works, it makes numbers one and two that much easier.
I'll refer back to this post at this point, although I would note the conclusion is no longer valid. Teams the last few weeks have been all up in the box to stop this thing. It's time for the next move.