Behind Enemy Lines - Part 1

Ken Palmer from Giants Insider asks WarNest.com's Chris Steuber five questions regarding this Sunday's divisional game between the Eagles and Giants. Steuber tells Palmer his real thoughts on Donovan McNabb's controversial comments, if Kevin Curtis is for real and why the Eagles are slow starters.

Ken Palmer: How did the Birds go from an offensive offense to 56 points in one week?

Chris Steuber: I think everyone is still trying to figure that out. After the Eagles lost to the Redskins, Andy Reid stated that the offense was just a hair off, and that they would fix the problem. Whatever that problem was they fixed it. Donovan McNabb was a major reason for the Eagles posting that many points against a weak Lions secondary. McNabb didn’t wear his knee brace for the first time this season and just let it rip. The Eagles had a great game plan offensively for the Lions and were able to utilize Kevin Curtis (11 receptions for 221 yards and three touchdowns) to his full potential. Brian Westbrook (221 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns) was tremendous. Anytime you have a threat like Westbrook on offense, you’ll be able to score a lot of points because of his versatility. The Eagles won’t score 56-points every week, but I think you’ll see a much more consistent offense from here on out.

Palmer: What is your honest take on Donovan McNabb’s comments?

Steuber: I think he’s a bit delusional, because every quarterback in the National Football League faces criticism and pressure on and off the field. How do you think Rex Grossman gets treated in Chicago? Or how did David Carr get treated in Houston last year when he was playing miserably? I think Donovan brings a lot of the criticism on himself. Every time he makes comments it seems to stir up some negative feelings from the media and the fans. I think Philadelphia fans want to like Donovan, but he makes it hard sometimes. It’s almost like he needs negative energy to play great. He’s from Chicago and was a huge Michael Jordan fan growing up. In games where Jordan shined the brightest, it seemed like he was always battling an illness, but yet he scored 50 or 60 points. The same can be said about Donovan. I think he needs controversy around him to be great.

Palmer: How good a pickup has Kevin Curtis been? The Giants strongly considered signing him.

Steuber: I was really excited when the Eagles signed Kevin Curtis, because I had the chance to scout him when he was at Utah State. He’s not the biggest receiver, but he’s lightning quick and runs great routes. One play against the Lions that sticks out for me was the 63-yard touchdown reception Curtis caught. He started on the outside and performed a double move on the defender and totally escaped coverage while McNabb fired a strike between two defenders for the touchdown. Curtis brings another dimension to the Eagles offense; almost the same dimension Donte’ Stallworth brought to the field. Curtis is more intriguing, because he’s still learning to play on the outside. When he was with St. Louis, he played mostly as a slot receiver, so as he develops more confidence on the outside he’ll only get better.

Palmer: Is defensive coordinator Jim Johnson still as aggressive and blitz happy as ever?

Steuber: The thing with Johnson is that he’s always going to blitz. Even if things are bad, he’s still going to bring pressure from all angles. But the development of the Eagles’ tackles has taken away some of the need to blitz. Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson are both playing at a high level and the defensive line is getting pressure on the quarterback without the blitz. However, I expect the Eagles to blitz more this week against the Giants to try and rattle Eli Manning.

Palmer: Do you see any reason why Andy Reid’s Eagles almost always start slowly in the first couple games?

Steuber: I think it has a lot to do with preparation and the way they play in the preseason. The Eagles run a basic offense in preseason games, and they don’t like to show the opposition too much before the regular season begins. Most teams take this approach, but for some reason it affects the Eagles more than most teams. In many ways it’s just a coincidence, but usually the Eagles get it together and start to play up to their potential.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber is the Editor in Chief of WarNest.com and an NFL Analyst for Scout.com. Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. If you have any questions for Chris, email him at: csteuber@scout.com.



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