The Eagles return from the Bye Week on Sunday to face a very poor Tampa Bay Buccaneers team. Coming off an impressive win against the Chiefs, the Eagles will look to keep the momentum going as a few players are coming back off injury. It looks like Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, and Kevin Curtis will make their returns, and Jeremiah Trotter makes his season debut. The Birds should be ready to rock, so let’s take a look at our opponent.
Here’s some quick team stats and league rankings:
Points per game: 13.5 (28th)
Yards per game: 279.5 (27th)
Pass yards per game: 182.5 (24th)
Rush yards per game: 97 (23rd)
Points per game: 26.8 (25th)
Yards per game: 393.5 (31st)
Pass yards per game: 221.8 (17th)
Rush yards per game: 171.8 (30th)
Josh Johnson – He made his starting debut last week against the Redskins after the the Bucs decided to pull Byron Leftwich. He threw for just over 100 yards and had a touchdown pass as well as an interception. Despite low numbers through the air, he did run the ball seven times for 41 yards. This guy is not a great quarterback and it looks as though Tampa Bay doesn’t believe he’s a long term solution as they took Josh Freeman in last years draft. I see the Eagles beating this guy up all day and forcing him into turning the ball over more than once.
Cadillac Williams – Cadillac isn’t showing the brilliance he once had but is surrounded by some other talented running backs in Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham. He hasn’t received a lot of carries this year but is averaging five yards per carry in the touches he is getting. Ward and Graham are banged up so Cadillac should see the bulk of the carries this weekend. He can be a threat if he gets going but with the way the Eagles defense has played against the run I don’t see him having a big day. Trotter will look to make his presence known in his return and remove Cadillac’s head from his body.
Antonio Bryant – Bryant has gotten off to a very slow start after showing brilliance towards the end of last year. He has been dealing with injuries and still isn’t 100% yet. He did manage to find the endzone last week against the Redskins but was held to four catches. However, this was more than he had in the other two games that he played in. With a quarterback just trying to get situated, I don’t see him being much of a threat.
Kellen Winslow – In the first two games of the year, Winslow was a big threat with 12 catches for 120 yards and found the endzone both weeks. Since then his numbers have dropped off and he has been much less impressive. You would think Johnson would look to throw to him a lot last week as a check down but Winslow only had two receptions on the day for 21 yards. However, I think one of the Eagles biggest problems on defense is shutting down opposing tight ends. They will have their hands full with Winslow as he’s one of the best in the business. The linebackers need to keep an eye on him and not let him get open in the middle of the field.
Gaines Adams – Adams is a talented young player and can cause trouble for the quarterback if he’s not taken care of. He will line up against Jason Peters on Sunday so he will have the responsibility of shutting him down. Lucky for him, Adams is slowed down with an ankle injury and was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice. However, Adams did record his first sack of the year last week showing that the Eagles can’t downplay his ability.
Barrett Ruud – This guy is a bull in the middle and is currently second in the league in tackles. He has a knack for finding the ball and punishing whoever has it. It is very important for the Eagles to put solid blocks on him so Westbrook and McCoy can make some plays. If they fail to do so, it will be a long day for the running backs.
Aqib Talib – Talib is a talented young player with good size. He showed his talented last week against the Redskins as he recorded three interceptions. I’m guessing he’ll be responsible for shutting down DeSean Jackson on Sunday. Talib will probably try to jam Jackson at the line as he has the size to do so. Jackson will have to get off these jams and continue the success he’s been having so far this year.
Ronde Barber – You can’t talk about the Bucs defense and not mention this guy. He has haunted us in the past and I’m sure Donovan remembers the season ending interceptions he’s thrown to him. He’s not the same guy as he is 34 now but he can still play at a high level. With his age, I hope the Eagles try to match him up with a lot of speed to try to take advantage of him. He’s talented, but he definitely has his weaknesses.
The good news is no more Matt Bryant (that kick from the 2006 season still haunts me). The even better news is that their kicker, Mike Nugent, is only 2/6 this year on field goal attempts. I don’t see this game coming down to a field goal, so I’m not really worried either way.