Another week, another big game. The Eagles look to continue their hot play down the stretch as they chase a spot in the 2013 NFL Playoffs. This week the Eagles face an opponent also in the playoff race: the Detroit Lions. After a big win over the Packers on Thanksgiving, the Lions are now 7-5 and in sole possession of the NFC North lead.
A large amount of Detroit's success comes from their offense. The Lions are producing 424.5 yards per game , which is the second most in the NFL. A lot of that yardage comes from their passing attack. Their 309.3 passing yards per game is also second in the NFL. Detroit scores 27.2 points per game.
The passing attack all starts with a very good quarterback by the name of Matthew Stafford. Stafford has a number of weapons to work with, but none more obvious than the man they call Megatron: Calvin Johnson. Kelly had high praise for the Lions' superstar receiver.
[There is no wide receiver similar to Calvin Johnson in the world.] I mean, you look at the Cowboys game, you would think when you have a guy triple covered, they're not going to throw the ball to him. [Matthew Stafford] throws it to him and he goes up and catches it. The combination of his size and his speed and explosiveness, I don't think there's anybody like that in this league. He can just go get the football. I think sometimes when you're playing people, you can say, ‘Hey, if we double this guy with our play call, we got two good guys that can double him. You’re in good shape.’ They're still going to throw it up and a lot of times he goes and gets it. That's what makes it really difficult with him.
There's no doubt that Johnson presents a huge threat to the Eagles defense. The passing attack isn't the only area where the Lions excel on offense. They also boast talent in the back field with players such as Reggie Bush and former Eagle Joique Bell. Bush ranks fifth in the league with 1302 yards from scrimmage. He's amassed 854 rushing yards along with 448 receiving yards and 5 TD. Kelly spoke on the difficulty of matching up against Bush.
He's one of those guys that you got to know where he is on every play. They do a great job. Coach [Scott] Linehan runs their offense, does a great job of moving him around, putting him in different spots. He is not always the running back. He is going to be in the slot, he is going to be the single receiver. There's going to be an empty. He creates mismatches. IRunning back Reggie Bush and safety Louis Delmas also sat out practice today, to rest sore knees.f it becomes a matchup game, you're trying to get somebody matched up on Calvin [Johnson], then you're trying to match up with the other receivers, the tight end, who is left to cover the back? They will expect that, especially depending on which linebacker you put on them.
Detroit is known for their offense, but they have some players on the other side of the ball too. Their defense features a number of players such as Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, DeAndre Levy, Stephen Tulloch, and Louis Delmas, to name a few. The Lions aim to generate pressure up front with an alignment that Eagles fans are all too familiar with: the infamous wide nine. Detroit actually brought in former Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn to help coach that type of front. Kelly was asked if the wide nine is something significantly different than what the Eagles have faced this year.
No, a lot of teams bull rush you, kind of tee off, go after you. They do it a little bit more in terms of the techniques that they play. If you don't have a tight end, there's no wide nine. I don't know where the name comes from. First and foremost, they have really, really good players. The two guys inside are pro‑bowl caliber type players. I don't think the defensive ends get enough credit just because they have the two high‑profile guys inside. They're well‑coached. They're physical. That's one thing that jumps out on tape, how physical that defensive front is. Any time you can get your guys to play hard, it's going to be a challenge for you to line up against them.
Sunday will be yet another good test for this Eagles team.
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