This is the next part in our series of previews of the Eagles 2009 opponents. Joining us for this feature is Dave Schwab, who writes about the Eagles at his site Eagles Lincs.
Next up is preseason game number two on the road against the Indianapolis Colts. As far as I know there's no other earth shattering signings the Eagles can make midway through a game that will completely overshadow what actually happens on the field... so chances we'll actually have some football to discuss with this one.
Dave's full analysis is after the jump.
The Eagles travel to Indianapolis on Thursday, August 20th to play the Colts in an 8:00 P.M. game at Lucas Oil Stadium. This is both teams second preseason game and each one will be looking for their first victory of the preseason. The Eagles lost to New England 27-25 after David Akers missed a potential game winning 43 yard field goal late in the 4th quarter and the Colts lost to Minnesota 13-3. The starters for both teams will probably play the whole first half, so we will get a chance to see how well the Birds do against a fairly good team.
The big story for the Colts this off season was the retirement of long time head coach Tony Dungy. He was replaced by their former assistant head coach, Jim Caldwell who was hand-picked for the job. While everyone is saying it is business as usual in Indy, there is an undercurrent of concern over the transition. Caldwell brought in Larry Coyer as his defensive coordinator as they make the transition from Dungy’s Tampa 2 scheme to a more traditional 4-3 front. . The defensive secondary is currently banged up as strong safety, Bob Sanders is still recovering from knee surgery and free safety, Antoine Bethea broke a bone in his hand earlier this month. They will try and shore up a defensive line that is anchored by All Pro DE Dwight Freeney. This will be a good chance to see if their revamped defensive line can shut down the Eagles running attack as this was one of this team’s main problems last season. I anticipate the Eagles moving the ball fairly well against the Colt’s as it will still take a few more weeks before they work out all the kinks to this new defensive alignment.
On offense, the story has been and still is Peyton Manning. Heading into his 12th season, for the first time in his career he will not have his favorite target, WR Marvin Harrison to throw the ball to. Reggie Wayne has been moved to the #1 spot replacing Harrison, and Anthony Gonzalez has been promoted to #2. On the ground RB Joseph Addai will get the majority of the carries, but keep an eye on rookie Donald Brown who was Indianapolis’ 1st round draft pick this past April. Last week against the Vikings he ran for 58 yards on 5 carries including a 38 yard run that set up the Colts only score of the game. One area of concern is the Colts’ offensive line as they were completely man handled by Minnesota. Manning will need to keep an eye on the Eagle’s pass rush, as last week he was sacked 3 times in the first quarter.
While the Colts would certainly love to come away with a victory, the more important goal will be to keep moving forward with the Dungy to Caldwell transition. The players need to continue to gain confidence in their new head coach and his ability to lead this team. As much as Caldwell has learned from Dungy and tries to follow in his footsteps, he will need to put his own stamp on this team to truly make it his. The Eagles on the other hand will try and make a stamp in the preseason win column.
Check out more of Dave's insights at Eagles Lincs.