Colts Key Matchup: Wayne vs Brown

The Eagles will have to leave at least one of their cornerbacks in single-coverage in Sunday's matchup if they hope to stop the Colts rushing attack. Greg Talmage takes a look at the matchup that's most likely going to see the bulk of that one-on-one action.

Just like the Colts, the Philadelphia Eagles are a team struggling to stop the run. Their front four has often been guilty of poor tackling and an inability to get off blocks. Last week, Titans RB Travis Henry gashed the Eagles for 143 yards rushing on 18 carries for an average of nearly eight yards per carry.

Because of their struggles against the run, Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson will likely have to come up with a way to balance playing eight man fronts while giving his corners some help on the outside lanes against Colt wideouts Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison. If he decides to drop a safety in the box, Johnson will also have to roll the dice and decide which corner, Lito Sheppard or Sheldon Brown, he trusts more in single coverage. The smart money in that decision is on the ever improving Sheldon Brown.

On Sunday night, Brown will be covering another player who also seems to just get better each year in WR Reggie Wayne, who is currently leading the Colts in receiving yards (885), yards per catch (16.1) and touchdowns (7). Here's what his quarterback, Peyton Manning, recently had to say about him.

"He's been playing great. He's made play after play and his consistency is what really sticks out. His ability to catch the ball with his hands and make guys miss is great."

Reggie Wayne has developed into a very solid route runner. He reads, adjusts, and will locate "soft spots" in the zone. He knows how to use his frame to get positioning against the corner and shield the defender from the ball. Because of this, the Colts love to run some quick outs, quick slants and curl routes with him -- especially on the three-step drop.

One advantage Wayne will have over Brown is height. Brown will on an occasion get out-jumped and out-muscled by the bigger receiver. Nonetheless, he is a very solid cover corner who plays bigger than his size and is not afraid to bump-and-run.

Brown excels in almost any coverage. He is effective in either press or zone. He breaks quickly against three-step drops, has solid catch-up speed and good range playing the deep ball. He is also physical from a press position and can reroute receivers with his jam. And he has the feet to stay close on intermediate crossing routes.

Brown will, however, have some trouble against bigger speed receivers when isolated in coverage. This is what Indianapolis hopes to take advantage of this weekend. That's easier said than done against an aggressive, smash-mouth player like Sheldon Brown, who has developed into one of the most consistent corners in the league.


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