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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
While searching the Internet for a hotel within a three-state radius of Green Bay this morning, I came across an Eagles column by Phil Sheridan of the Inquirer. Not sure why Priceline insists on publishing Phil's work, but that's beside the point.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid went out of his way this week to compliment the Steelers for their balanced offense. He said it's a difficult offense to slow down because of its unpredictability.
Sheridan said he's hoping Reid will remember those words Sunday, and make a concerted effort to keep his star quarterback in one piece. McNabb has been so effective in the first two games that it could influence Reid to keep chucking the ball on most downs.
But as Phil points out, it's that sort of approach that has allowed teams such as the Giants to feast on McNabb. Once you become one-dimensional, it's much easier for an elite defense like the Steelers to have success. That said, I wouldn't get my hopes up for a huge day on the ground.
It looks like Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews is out with back spasms, and his replacement, Max Jean-Gilles, showed some cracks during the preseason. Throw in the fact that center Jamaal Jackson missed three consecutive practices for "personal reasons," and it doesn't exactly sound like the foundation for a dive play exhibition. Still, it's important to keep the Steelers honest on defense -- even if that means several 1 and 2-yard gains.
I'd like to say that Reid can't be worried about his quarterback's health when calling plays, but that would be foolish. McNabb's health issues have hung over this franchise since the 2005 season, and you can't afford to send him to the wolves (Steelers) when he's finally looking like himself.
The honest truth is that Reid isn't going to change his pass-happy ways. He might keep an extra player in to help protect McNabb at times, but we'd be naive to think he'll turn into Joe Gibbs and start pounding the ball with Brian Westbrook.
Here's my "bold" prediction for Sunday's game: The Eagles win if L.J. Smith has a big day. I think he's the guy who could cause some damage over the middle and in the red zone.
Thanks for reading the Saturday edition of the Beast. And yes, that was Ed Hochuli's son who made the awful call late in last night's Baylor-UConn game. It's still too fresh for me to talk about right now.