After two devastating losses in a span of five days, the Eagles get a well deserved break. They won’t get too much rest though, as the defense has to prepare for their biggest challenge of the season: slowing down Peyton Manning. Manning is off to a near-perfect start, and the Broncos have won 14 straight regular season games.
The Eagles secondary has been up and down so far, but aside from some trouble getting off blocks in the screen game, looked much improved against the Chiefs. Look for the corners to continue to play close and force Manning to go deep. Although he has proven many of the doubters wrong about his arm strength, Billy Davis would much rather force Peyton to hold the ball for a few seconds than let him carve up the intermediate zones all night.
No matter what the gameplan, the inside linebackers have their work cut out for them. Despite some recent struggles, Mychal Kendricks is still our best cover linebacker, so expect him to be monitoring the middle all night long.
Expect the Broncos to try and exploit the size mismatches that Julius Thomas brings to the table. Undersized defenders like Kendricks will have to rely on their athleticism to make plays, because the matchups are simply not in their favor. Just look at what Antonio Gates did to us in week 2.
When trying to figure out how to stop Peyton, why not look towards the last time the Eagles played him. the defense was able to keep him out of a rhythm which led the way for Vick to lead the team to a thrilling victory. I’m sure that loss, like every loss, still eats at Peyton to this day.
In order to beat Peyton on the field, you have to beat him mentally. The instant he picks up on a blitz package, the defense is toast. Having the D-line get great penetration and get to Manning is simply not enough.
During the so-called “Manning Bowl” the Giants rushed 6 against Peyton and got pressure quickly.
This leaves one-on-one coverage across the board. The Giants are going for it all or nothing here. They know that if they can’t get to Manning before his ultra-quick release, then it is a guaranteed completion and possibly a big gain. Anytime you give Peyton such a large space to work with in the middle of the field, he does a brilliant job of throwing his receiver open and getting him into space with the ball.
He gets the ball out so fast, that the only way to disrupt him is to get him second guessing himself on his pre-snap reads. The defense will try to so this by disguising all of their looks the best they can. But there is always a limit, if you try and disguise to much, then the defenders will be too far out of position to execute the play.
As Chip put it in his Tuesday morning press conference, “You have to try to give him different looks. But you have to make sure your disguise isn’t a liability, that you’re so far away from your work that you can’t get to your work.”
This is where Chip will run into personnel issues as well. While Kendricks is a lethal weapon as a blitzer, leaving only Ryans and Barwin out to cover the flats is a risky move against one of, if not the most, accurate passers in the game.
When it comes down to it, the Eagles defense is going to need to continue their solid man coverage down the field, rely on their playmakers to get key third down stops, disguise and employ a variety of exotic blitzes, and get a hit on Peyton any chance they can get. That’s not too much to ask for, is it?