Monday, January 5, 2009

Eagles Blitzed Their Way into Next Round

Going into the game, I thought the Vikings had a chance, if they kept Tavaris Jackson upright, if they were successful running the football with Adrian Peterson, and if they won the field position battle. Those are a lot of ifs for a football team that had home-field advantage in the game. Well, none of those ifs went their way.

Jim Johnson decided to blitz Tavaris Jackson every chance he got. He had to have sent the kitchen sink along with the toilet and the garage. When Jim Johnson blitz, he always sent more players than the Vikings can block. His pressure forced two turnovers, one of which was an interception returned for a touchdown by Asante Samuel. The Eagles didn't have many sacks, but they collapsed the pocket nearly everytime Jackson dropped back to pass. The Eagles didn't give up the big plays with exception of the Adrian Peterson touchdown run. They played tight man-to-man defense and kept everything in front of them. Their tackling was crisp too. The players really earned their paychecks in this game.

Offensively, the Eagles struggled a bit when trying to score. However, whenever the offense was given bad field position such as starting inside their own 10 yard line, they were able to move out to their own 40 yard line and better. Gaining that many yards allowed them to change the field position in their favor. Yes, they eventually punted on many of those occasions but field position was always in their advantage in the end. Donovan McNabb converted many third-and-longs to keep drives alive. The offense did come up big in the fourth quarter. After the defense made the Vikings go three and out, Andy Reid called a screen play for Brian Westbrook. The screen play resulted in a 71 yard touchdown by Westbrook. Westbrook set up his blocking really well on the play faking cutting back inside to breaking the run outside. He made a one or two would-be tacklers miss on his way to a game-clinching touchdown.

The Vikings defense played well throughout the game until that aforementioned play happened in the fourth quarter. They held their own with Jared Allen having a big game against Tra Thomas. Jared Allen had two sacks and a forced fumble. They stopped the Eagles running game, even though the Eagles didn't have much of a running game to begin with. Westbrook's touchdown was crushing blow for the Vikings. Even though the Vikings played throughout the game, they did a poor job of stopping the Eagles from changing the field position advantage. The Vikings punt team pinned the Eagles numerous times deep in their own territory. The Eagles would change the field position each time by getting to at least their own 40 yard line or better. The Vikings simply couldn't stop the Eagles on third down. McNabb complete many 3rd and 10's to keep drives alive. The Vikings did a poor job in that aspect of the game.

Offensively, the Vikings playcalling was terrible, Tavaris Jackson didn't look great, and the execution was terrible. Brad Childress didn't keep the Eagles defense guessing. There weren't many screen plays called if any, or any designed swing passes to the running backs out of the back field. Childress's gameplan was terrible. Tavaris Jackson's accuracy came up lame again. He found his rhythm one time in this game and that was in the second quarter. For rest of the game, he was just plain bad. Now, having an offensive line and running backs whiff on their blocking priorities doesn't help either. Matt Birks errant shotgun snap which result in a fumble recovery by the Eagles didn't help either. The Vikings just had a bad game all-around offensively.

Many experts and fans say the Vikings should go out and get a veteran quarterback to unseat Jackson. What is a veteran quarterback going to do? He can't throw the football off his arse, can he? That veteran quarterback can't throw accurately when he has his own offensive linemen being pushed back into his face. Success starts upfront. The Vikings need to start pass blocking better and Brad Childress needs to draw up a better gameplan.

The Eagles faced their nemesis in the Giants. Each team won a game on their opponent's home turf. The Eagles will be going back to Giants Stadium looking for another win in New York. The Eagles have all of the momentum while the Giants hold home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Can the Giants still be effective on offense without Plaxico Burress in the passing game? Its going to be a tough game for both teams and I look forward to watching it.

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