The Eagles had a break out game last week against the Detroit Lions in which their offense finally showed what they’re capable of, posting 56 points. With a record of 1 – 2, the Eagles know that this week’s game against the New York Giants is huge. The Eagles can’t afford another division loss and have to find a way to escape New York with a win. Having a few players not at 100-percent; Brian Westbrook (abdomen), Brian Dawkins (neck), and William James (finger), will make things a little tougher for the Eagles.
In my latest “Eagle Eye Five”, these five players will have to continue their impressive play, show that they can contribute, and make others around them better to defeat the Giants.
With that said, here are the five Eagles I’ll be watching this weekend:
Reggie Brown: This has to be the game where Brown breaks out. He has too much talent to only have five receptions for 64 yards through three games. Brown has done well in his career against the Giants, so this could be a game Brown welcomes, as he tries to figure out his early season woes. In four career games against the Giants, Brown has 13 receptions for 260 yards and three touchdowns. With Kevin Curtis having a break out game last week against the Lions, maybe Donovan McNabb will spread the wealth this week and allow Brown’s fortunes to change.
William James: Anytime you face your former team you want to show them what they’re missing. James, who used to play as Will Peterson with the Giants, will probably be the starter against New York this week. Lito Sheppard is still nursing a sprained MCL, and will likely sit out one more week, especially since the Eagles are entering their bye week. With Sheppard doubtful to play, James will draw Amani Toomer, while Sheldon Brown faces the Eagle Killer Plaxico Burress. James has to limit Toomer’s opportunities and play physical at the line of scrimmage. This is a huge matchup for the Eagles secondary, and they have to stay disciplined in their coverages.
Brodrick Bunkley: Bunkley is the key to the Eagles defensive line. His strength and quickness causes the opposition a lot of problems, and Giants center Shaun O’Hara and guard Chris Snee have their work cut out for them. Bunkley’s raw power and improved technique have been the key to his development. Through three games, Bunkley has six tackles and two sacks. The Eagles want to apply pressure on Eli Manning and force him to make mistakes, and if Bunkley’s able to get penetration up the middle, he will force Manning outside the pocket where the Eagles defensive ends will be waiting for him. Bunkley’s play has made the Eagles defense much better.
Winston Justice: With William Thomas listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game, second-year tackle Winston Justice will get his first professional start at left tackle. This is a major change to the Eagles offensive line. Thomas has been a mainstay on that line and a player McNabb has confidence in. Justice has only seen limited live action, but he received the majority of the reps this week at practice. If Justice starts against the Giants, he’ll have a tough battle going up against Osi Umenyiora. Umenyiora has been tough against the Eagles in six career starts, recording 2.5 sacks and 24 tackles. Justice’s main concern will be to protect McNabb’s blind-side and not allow Umenyiora to get any free shots on McNabb.
Donovan McNabb: McNabb is coming off of a confidence building game: 1. Because he decided to get rid of the knee brace he wore the previous two weeks and 2. He lit up the Detroit Lions, as he completed 21-of-26 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns. McNabb showed great accuracy and recognition against Detroit and is ready for an encore against the Giants. This may be a bigger game for McNabb than the Lions game was. Going up against your division rival at their field and knowing that another loss in your division may cripple you the rest of the season, McNabb has to show the same poise he displayed against the Lions. If McNabb struggles against the Giants and resorts back to the player that was abysmal the first two weeks of the season – who knows what will happen as the Eagles enter their bye week.