After breaking down film and critiquing the teams heading into Week 10, Scouts Inc. tells you what to watch for this weekend.
McNabb is back
QB Donovan McNabb is playing as good as he ever has. He's buying time in the pocket, making decisive throws and spreading the ball around. His ability to read the field is terrific, and he has eight or nine targets per game. When the Eagles spread the field, McNabb is quick to identify the best matchup and routinely throws into tight spots. He knows how to read double or rolled coverage and is very good at dictating matchups pre-snap.
He has regained his comfort level with WR Kevin Curtis, now that Curtis is back from injury, and that will be one thing to pay attention to this week versus the Giants.
The key for McNabb versus the Giants will be pass protection because the Giants are very good at forcing ill-advised throws.
Good and bad Grossman
It looks like QB Rex Grossman will be taking over for QB Kyle Orton during the next few weeks, even though Orton is lobbying to play. When you look at last week's film, it is easy to see that Grossman is still not consistent. His best pass is still the seam route over the middle, and at times he looked really good versus the Lions. He threw a couple nice balls into tight holes and showed good arm strength, solid mechanics and calmness in the pocket. However, at other times he looked frantic under pressure, played with no awareness and tried to force the ball.
Coaches are saying that Grossman has become a student of the game and that his preparation and ability to read the field have improved. But it remains to be seen how he will handle being the starter from kickoff to the final whistle. It also doesn't help that he faces the Titans this week. Clearly, this is not an ideal situation. The Titans will bring pressure with just four, keep seven defenders in coverage and force Grossman to make hurried throws all game.
New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles
The key to this NFC East showdown will be pass-rush pressure, and both defenses love to blitz and be aggressive. Giants coordinator Steve Spagnuolo learned everything he knows from Eagles coordinator Jim Johnson from the time Spagnuolo spent as the Eagles' linebackers coach. However, the two coordinators have different philosophies regarding the blitz.
Spagnuolo loves to blitz in order to dictate matchups for his front four. He is confident that his defensive linemen have the advantage in all one-on-one matchups, so he will blitz a linebacker to take away a double-team, rather than to actually get after the quarterback directly. Johnson blitzes to get the sack and will show lots of exotic pre-snap looks to confuse the offense. The challenge for the offensive line is to recognize where the pressure is coming from.
New York Jets
Kris Jenkins has been the most dominant defensive tackle in the league, with the exception of Titans DT Albert Haynesworth. Jenkins is virtually unblockable, and his quickness is underrated. He has a ton of size and power, with the ability to play any style of defense. Jenkins plays hard on every down and controls the line of scrimmage. He has thrived in the Jets' two-gap, read-and-react scheme. He uses his arm extension to keep blockers off him, and when the back hits the hole, he slides off and makes the play. Jenkins also has a tremendous arm-over move that allows him to split double-teams, and he is an excellent finisher.
Jenkins should be able to disrupt the Rams' offensive line and make QB Marc Bulger move in the pocket to avoid the pressure.
Gary Horton, a pro scout for Scouts Inc., has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm, The War Room.