Colts and Eagles (from the other side)

Welcome to Mike Burke from Birdsfan.comMike interviewed me for the Colts perspective on Sunday’s game.  Today, Nick Pease (18to88′s director of ‘opponent blog relations’) hits him back with some great questions about how Philadelphia is viewing this matchup.
NP: Heading into this game the Colts are coming off of an impressive victory where they proved they can win with reserve players in key roles.  Conversely, the Eagles are coming off of a bye week.  What will be the focus for Philly this week as they continue to prepare for Indy?
MB: There’s no question in my mind that it’s stopping Peyton Manning and the aerial attack.  Throwing the ball is something the Colts obviously love to do and they have one of the best in the business leading them.  The Eagles failed to stop the passing game of the Titans with Kerry Collins at the helm, so it’s scary to think of what Manning could potentially do.  On defense, Eagles corner Dimitri Patterson will be making his first NFL start and will be an obvious target for Manning to attack.

The defense has played well against the run and it’s not something the Colts are big on so I think the Eagles will see a real healthy dose of Manning on Sunday.

The Eagles are 4-3 and seem to be a bit inconsistent.  There were close wins over Detroit and San Francisco, a big win over Atlanta and then an ugly loss to the Titans. What Eagles team will we see this weekend?

The Eagles defense is the key to their inconsistencies.  For some reason, they tend to let down in the fourth quarter.  The Eagles had pretty healthy leads in the Lions and 49ers games, but the defense allowed them to come back and make it close.  The best example of their fourth quarter struggles cam in the Titans game you mentioned.  Early in the fourth quarter, the Eagles added a field goal to take a 19-10 lead.  From there, the Titans ripped off 20 straight points on offense then added a defensive touchdown as time expired.  Most of the let down against the Titans can be placed on the inability of two players and the coaching staff failing to make an adjustment.

NP:  The Colts defense is built on speed,  but the Colts secondary is beat up beyond belief.  To send the question back your way, how do you think Michael Vick will fare against the Colts D?
MB: No matter how fast a defense is, I’m still going to give Vick the advantage.  Not only is Vick extremely quick, he’s very elusive.  He can dodge a defender, change direction, and take off the other way in the blink of an eye.  There’s no doubt that he will make a play or two with his feet, but at the end of the day, he’s going to need to make plays with his arm.  He’s done pretty well throwing the ball this season and has the arm strength to make tremendous throws down the field.  His throws down field this year have been very accurate as well and I think he’ll be able to connect on a few deep balls on Sunday against the Colts beat up secondary.
NP:  Desean Jackson is simply electric.  After missing Philly’s last game with a concussion, He recently said his status will be a game time decision.  Do you think he will play, and if he does, what is his impact on the game?

MB:  At this point, I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t play.  He’s a little guy but an absolute warrior.  The bye week came at a perfect time for him as he surely would have missed another game last week if they played.

As far as his impact on the game, we’ve already talked about the Colts secondary, and I think that bodes well for him.  I expect him to take advantage of them and I think Vick will be able to find him on a couple deep plays.  Vick and Jackson suit each other well.  Vick tends to extend plays with his feet and Jackson has a knack for finding open holes in the secondary when a play breaks down.

NP:  It looks like the Eagles will be starting a new cornerback this week. Does that make you nervous at all? Philly is ranked 9th in overall Defensive DVOA, and 7th against the pass. Yet they have given up eight touchdowns in the last three games.  How do you think the Eagles secondary will do against Peyton Manning?

MB:  It absolutely makes me nervous.  No matter who would start opposite of Asante Samuel, I’d be nervous.  Manning is the best passer in the game and can make any receiver he has look like a Pro Bowl player.  He makes it extremely easy for his receivers because he always put the ball exactly where it needs to be.

I’ll be interested to see what type of approach the Eagles take in regards to Manning.  They could try and blitz him hard and make him force passes or rush three and drop everyone else in to coverage.  At the end of the day, you can’t stop Manning, but I hope the Eagles can contain him to a degree.

NP:  Who is the X-factor for Philly in this game?

MB:  I want to say LeSean McCoy but I’m going to have to go with Vick.  It’s his first game back and he’s facing a huge challenge.  There’s no denying that the Colts will score points, so he’s going to have to be able to punch right back.  He’s a pure play maker and that’s exactly what he’s going to have to do on Sunday.  He has to make plays.

NP:  What is your prediction for the game?

MB:  Unfortunately, I’m going to have to go against the Eagles here.  I think both sides will put up some points, but in the end, the Colts offense will be too much to handle.  Colts win 37-27

Thanks to Mike and Nick for the exchange.
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