Friday, November 12, 2010
Final Word: NFC East
By Matt Mosley
Five nuggets of knowledge about the Week 10 games.
Will the Redskins' Cover 2 scheme work as well as it did last time they faced the Eagles? Even before he was sandwiched at the goal line and knocked out of the game in September, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick was struggling to find anyone downfield against Washington. I assume the Redskins will once again try to keep everything in front of them, which could frustrate Eagles receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Vick will have to be patient against the Skins and wait for the right moments. But you know Jackson will try a double move at some point. The Skins will have a spy on Vick at all times. I just hung up the phone with Redskins outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who made his first start of the season in the Skins' win over the Eagles in Philadelphia. He and Brian Orakpo have to rush "with vision," which basically means they can't simply put their heads down and race upfield. You'll see them play a little bit more under control against Vick.
Will the Cowboys be motivated to play for new head coach Jason Garrett?
Will all of Jason Garrett's changes translate to better on-field performance? The Cowboys' new head coach has been impressive in front of his players and the media this week. And he even had his team in full pads Wednesday and brought them in earlier than usual. But we still don't know if these players will play for him. I think the Cowboys will actually keep this thing close, but it's hard to imagine a win. I do think Dallas is catching New York at a good time, and we'll talk more about that in the next "nugget."
The Giants will be missing starting left tackle/guard David Diehl and center Shaun O'Hara in this game. Rich Seubert will start at center again and either Kevin Boothe or Mitch Petrus will line up at left guard. My money's on Boothe, by the way. Shawn Andrews gets his second consecutive start at left tackle. That's looking like one of the shrewdest moves in the division by general manager Jerry Reese. The Giants will also be without starting wide receiver Steve Smith (partial pectoral tear), which means that Mario Manningham will start. Ramses Barden becomes the No. 3 receiver, so we'll see whether he can live up to all that potential we've heard about the past two seasons. Also keep the name Duke Calhoun handy during this game because he may receive some snaps at receiver as well.
Donovan McNabb has been working on that infamous two-minute drill. Apparently Father & Son Shanahan brought one of the most complex two-minute drills in football to town. The terminology is so tough to grasp that a veteran star apparently had to hit the books over the bye week. All eyes will be on McNabb to see how he responds to being benched by Shanahan at the end of the Lions game. If he bounces back with a big game, folks will say that Shanahan motivated him. I certainly don't think McNabb will be saying that. If he gets off to a rough start, will Rex Grossman be ready to go? For whatever reason, Kyle Shanahan seems enamored with this guy.
Can the Cowboys' offensive line hold up against Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck? I had the chance to speak to Tuck at length Thursday and he feels no sympathy for what the Cowboys are going through right now. He compares it to what the Giants endured in the second half of last season. On film, Umenyiora thinks the Cowboys offensive linemen look confused at times. You can expect to see Tuck line up on both sides at defensive end and then move inside and play at tackle. He has a lot of respect for Jon Kitna, but he also knows that Kitna's a sitting duck. The Giants won't admit it publicly, but I think they have a big sack number in mind. I'm talking a Cutler-like performance.