NFC East: Chike Okeafor
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Earlier this afternoon, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb talked to reporters about his benching Sunday and his relationship with head coach Andy Reid. McNabb said he's "fine" with Reid, but he still disagrees with Reid's decision to pull him at halftime of Sunday's loss in Baltimore. I'm providing you with the transcript from today. Go ahead and digest what McNabb said and then we can meet back here later and discuss:
On how he found out that he was named the starter for the game vs. Arizona:
Donovan McNabb: [Jokingly], I was told by the janitor. Me and him have a pretty good relationship around here. It was a pretty good conversation that we had.
On whether he's confident that he can play at a high level:
DM: I know I will. I think the rest of the guys know that as well. You look at the things that have happened, and it's kind of uncharacteristic of me and I know that. It's something that you have to battle through, playing the position. Not everyone goes through a perfect season. Some guys go through a little drama at the beginning, some go through it at the end. It's unfortunate that I'm going through it right now, but it's easy to bounce back from it. That's the way that I'm going to continue to approach this and I look forward to making changes this week.
On whether sitting out the second half at Baltimore helped him clear his head:
DM: I don't think so. A lot of it is, you're a competitor. It's no different, really, than basketball or baseball. If you're a little off, you keep shooting. That's the way I feel like you get out of a little drought, if you continue to keep firing, things are going to turn out for the better. That's going to be my approach, but we all need to go in there with a little different mindset, of obviously, taking care of the ball. It's nothing to the fact that I'm going to be gun-shy or anything. I'm going to stay aggressive, just keep playing ball and having fun in the process.
On the confidence level of the other players on the team in him:
DM: I think, at this particular point, you have to still have confidence in yourself first before you look around to someone else. You have to ask yourself, 'Are you doing your job to the fullest?' That's something that I continue to do and I've been doing throughout my career. Also, to have the understanding that, if I elevate my game to another level, then everyone else will begin to follow. You have to put pressure on yourself individually to go out and be that guy to turn things around; to make that big play to put us all in position to win the game. If all 53 guys do that, then we don't have any problems. We're in a situation right now where it's must-win and we have to turn this thing around, on the offensive side, and take pressure off of our defense and special teams and get back to the way we were playing."
|Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE and Rich Kane-US PRESSWIRE|
|Cardinals defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast will use varied looks and movements in an effort to keep Eli Manning guessing.|
Posted by Scouts Inc.'s Keith Kidd
One of the most intriguing matchups in Sunday's Giants-Cardinals game will be decided, to a large extent, not on the field but in the film room. How Arizona defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast decides to attack quarterback Eli Manning in passing situations will go a long way toward determining the outcome.
Pendergast, who should be on a number of short lists for NFL teams seeking a new head coach in the offseason, is a dynamic thinker who specializes in exotic pressure schemes. He builds his packages out of a base 3-4, though the Cardinals often move into a four-man front in nickel situations. It's a multiple scheme with variations and movements, and Pendergast isn't afraid to use them all. That may be necessary against Manning, a terrific talent who continues to deliver efficient play. But to get to him, the Cardinals first must put the clamps on the Giants' explosive run game.
New York has an excellent trio of backs -- Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward -- who complement each other well, not to mention one of the finest offensive lines in the league. The Giants' runners can punish opponents, and they excel at bouncing runs outside and getting to the edges. Arizona's defense is fast to the ball and aggressive in pursuit, but slowing New York's downhill running and interior power will be a challenge. Against two-back packages on early downs, Pendergast likely will invert strong safety Adrian Wilson near the line of scrimmage and use a lot of stems and single-zone linebacker blitzes to put stress on the Giants' blocking patterns. The Cardinals must force Jacobs, Bradshaw and Ward to run laterally, create a new line of scrimmage and maintain gap discipline to put Manning in more difficult second- and third-down situations.
With that accomplished, Pendergast will utilize varied looks and movements to cover up back-end weaknesses and make it difficult for Manning to diagnose where the blitz is coming from on passing downs. Expect overload blitzes that attack the front side of the pocket (to affect Manning's eye level and passing windows) and back-side delays out of the slot. Pressure is the key to forcing game-changing mistakes. Manning has a tendency to telegraph passes and, when under duress, force throws into tight windows. Defensive end Darnell Dockett gets good interior penetration when he slides inside in sub packages, and Bertrand Berry, Travis LaBoy and Chike Okeafor all are capable pass-rushers. The players to watch, however, are Wilson and linebacker Karlos Dansby. Wilson, who spends a lot of time near the line in both regular and sub packages, is as effective rushing the passer as he is playing the run. Dansby, a versatile defender who can drop into zone or match up on a back in passing situations, might be at his best on the blitz.
Will Arizona's secondary hold up long enough to allow the pass-rushers to get home? The Cardinals don't move personnel around much on the back end, which should enable the Giants to dictate with their formations who and how they attack. Rookie cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has played well in recent weeks, but he will be tested. Receiver Plaxico Burress likely will be aligned or motioned to exploit that matchup. The Giants also will try to use play-action to bait free safety Antrel Rolle, who has struggled a bit in deep zones. In any case, the Cardinals must be sound open-field tacklers, because there should be plenty of room to run for Giants pass-catchers in the areas vacated by blitzers.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.