With Donovan McNabb listed as a game time decision for Sunday’s match up against the Patriots, Feeley has a good chance to start at quarterback for the Eagles against New England. When McNabb came out of the game against Miami with ankle and thumb injuries early in the second quarter, Feeley entered and managed the game efficiently to lead Philadelphia to a much needed win. Against the Dolphins, the Eagle’s backup quarterback completed 13 of 19 passes for 116 yards while mostly handing the ball off to Brian Westbrook. In the fourth quarter, Feely threaded a pass to Jason Avant in the end zone between two defenders to give the Eagles a ten-point lead and the momentum to win the game. Against New England, Feeley will need to avoid mistakes and turnovers to give his team as many opportunities to score as possible. He will have to fill in for the Eagles the same way he did in 2002, when he replaced McNabb and Koy Detmer in week 12 to lead Philadelphia to five straight wins. In 2004, the last time he played the Pats, Feeley was the starting quarterback for the Dolphins and he threw for 198 yards and a score to lead Miami to a thrilling 29-28 victory.
Philadelphia’s Offensive Line
If the Eagles are going to stand a chance against the undefeated Patriots, the offensive line will need to give the quarterback plenty of time and will need to open running lanes for Brian Westbrook. Philadelphia likes to use screen plays as a fixture in their offensive game plan and the linemen will have to execute perfectly for them to work. In their second match up against the Redskins this season, the Eagles ran a screen play in the fourth quarter to Westbrook that went for a 57-yard touchdown mostly because of the devastating blocks by Shawn Andrews and Jon Runyan. Although the line has allowed 32 sacks this year, 12 of them came in the game against the Giants in week four. There have also been many times this season when McNabb has had time in the pocket, but gets sacked because of not getting the ball out of his hands quickly enough. The Patriots boast a defensive unit that has recorded 29 total sacks on the year and has plus-13 turnover differential, the highest in the league.
All season long, the Eagles have dealt with injuries at the safety positions, and Sunday’s game will be no different. Brian Dawkins missed five games this year with a stinger and Sean Considine suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against Dallas in week nine. When Quintin Mikell got injured in the Miami game last week, Reed filled in and played a good portion of the game at strong safety. Against New England, Reed will get his first start since the 2004 season finale when the Eagles played mostly their back-ups against the Cincinnati Bengals since they had already clinched the division. The four-year veteran out of South Florida has mainly been utilized as a kick return specialist in the past, running back kickoffs for the Eagles and Rams in his career. Reed made a triumphant return to the NFL last year after a freak accident caused him to miss the entire 2005 season because of potential nerve damage to his leg.
Andrew Pluta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.