Semi Coherent Eagles vs. Broncos Preview: The One Where They Face Peyton Manning


Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to the ten-day break provided by the Thursday night game against the Chiefs, the Eagles and their fans got a chance to catch their breath after a frantic start to the season.  Now, we can all re-acclimate as the team gets to face the Denver Broncos.

The Denver Broncos?  Oh crap, that’s Peyton Manning’s team!  THE Peyton Manning!  You know the guy in all of those commercials!  For those of you who only follow the NFC East, he’s Eli Manning’s older brother, and he’s actually legitimately good!  Sure, he makes the same stupid faces as Eli, but that only usually happens in the playoffs.  In the regular season, Peyton Manning like never loses.  Ever.

Sure, the Eagles may have beaten him a few years ago, but that was only because Manning underestimated how little Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel actually played within the confines of the defensive system.  Manning didn’t expect that Samuel would completely disregard his defensive assignment and just hang back to jump routes.  As a result, Samuel intercepted two passes and the Eagles won.

In case you’ve forgotten, Samuel no longer plays for the Eagles.  They shipped him out before the 2012 season, and unfortunately, they didn’t find anyone better to replace him.

So now, despite not having many (any?) quality players in their secondary,  the Eagles have to figure out a way to stop a Broncos offense that not only includes Manning, but also star receivers Wes Walker and Eric Decker.  Is there any way this could work out well for the Eagles?  Perhaps the Broncos are due to have a bad week offensively.  They’ve been almost perfect thus far this season, so maybe they could mix in a bad week here or there?

While I think they will indeed have a bad week at some point, I can’t see it happening against the Eagles’ defense.  If Philip Rivers and Alex Smith can easily decipher what the Eagles are doing on defense, I have a sneaking suspicion that Manning might be able to figure it out as well.

The Last Time They Met

The last time the Eagles played the Broncos was the last time Donovan McNabb won a game in an Eagles uniform. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Late in the 2009 season, the Eagles were on a roll.  They were 10-4 and looked to be headed for an NFC East title and a first round playoff bye.  Midway through their week 16 game against the Broncos, the Eagles were leading 27-10 and everything still seemed to be running smoothly.  And then, a few minutes into the 3rd quarter, things weren’t going quite so smoothly anymore.

Oddly, the turnaround happened when Asante Samuel intercepted a pass for the Eagles.  During the return, safety Macho Harris (A prime example of “Craig Claxton Syndrome”) was whistled for unnecessary roughness.  The loss of field position helped spark a Broncos comeback.  The Broncos went on to score 17 unanswered points to tie the game.

The Eagles did manage to score a last-minute field goal to win the game.  But the following week, they would lose at Dallas, costing themselves the division title.  The following week, they had to travel to Dallas once again for a playoff game which also resulted in defeat.

After the season, the Eagles traded away quarterback Donovan McNabb, which meant that the Broncos game was McNabb’s final victory as an Eagle.

Featured Broncos Player – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Sep 5, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (45) during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Remember when the Eagles traded away Kevin Kolb, and Eagles fans thought it was a huge coup?  Not only were they getting a second round draft pick for their backup quarterback, but they also received a Pro Bowl cornerback in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

DRC (as he apparently didn’t like to be called) never quite lived up to his Pro Bowl billing.  He had some flashes of greatness, but there always seemed to be some sort of issue with him.  He couldn’t cover slot receivers; He couldn’t match up against physical receivers; He couldn’t tackle.  (The Eagles have had a lot of bad tacklers on defense in recent years, and yet DRC may have been the absolute worst.)

Despite having no obvious replacements on hand, the Eagles didn’t seem to think twice about letting DRC leave town.  His unphysical style and inability to tackle is now the Broncos’ problem.  If the Eagles are smart, they’ll run a ton of bubble screens in his direction on Sunday.

Key Eagles Storyline

Last week, the Eagles really felt the effect of Jeremy Maclin’s season ending injury.  With the Chiefs rolling safety help over to DeSean Jackson’s side of the field, they needed another receiver to win a one-on-one battle.  While Jason Avant had some good moments, Riley Cooper was very conspicuous in his inability to make the Chiefs pay for single covering him.

I was high on Cooper before the season, because I thought he was one of the few players who continued to play hard throughout last season.  But so far in 2013, he’s proving that he is simply not a starting caliber wide receiver.

Someone else is going to have to step up.  The Eagles theoretically have a good group of tight ends on their roster.  The Eagles could really stand to have one of them break out with a big game.

Tweet of Importance

In other words, some important people in Las Vegas expect this to be a bit of a shootout.  Considering that neither team has a highly regarded defense, that’s probably not a bad assumption.

The Week in Andy

“McNabb? Doesn’t ring a bell.” Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After thirteen years as the Eagles’ head coach, many Eagles fans miss having Andy Reid around.  Therefore, I take a weekly look at what “Big Red” is up to these days.

The scene: Andy Reid is in his office preparing for his homecoming game against the Eagles when the phone rings.

Reid: Hello?

Donovan McNabb: Hey, Andy!  It’s me! Donovan!

Reid: (Looks confused) Hello?

McNabb: It’s Donovan!  Donovan McNabb!

Reid: Still looks confused.  Uh, hi?  (Walks over to a file cabinet and begins to page through a collection of binders.)

McNabb: Andy, come on, man!  Please tell me you’re not looking through those binders to figure out who I am.

Reid: (Frantically looking through binders) No, that’s ridiculous….uh…Donovan?

McNabb: You are looking through the binders, aren’t you?

Reid: (Finds the page he was looking for) No, of course not…former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb who played for me for ten seasons.  Wow…that’s a lot.

McNabb: Yeah, it’s a lot.  That’s why I wanted to make sure you were there when they retired my number.

Reid: Wait, we’re retiring your number?

McNabb: What?  No!  The Eagles!  The Eagles are retiring my number!  This week at halftime!  I picked that game specifically because I knew you’d be there.

Reid: Huh?  Why am I going to be there?

McNabb: Because the Chiefs are playing the Eagles!

Reid: Oh…okay.  That makes sense.

McNabb: So I just wanted to call and say I’m looking forward to seeing you.

Reid: Same here, um…Darren.

McNabb: (Sighs) It’s Donovan.

Reid: (Looks back down at the binder) Right.  Donovan!  Donovan McNabb!  See you soon!

Final Take and Prediction

It would be difficult to predict the Eagles to win this game.  Even if the Eagles offense stops sabotaging itself the way they have the past two weeks, they’re still counting on the defense to be able to stop the Broncos offense.  Considering how well Manning has been playing, that’s a tough task for any defense, let alone one as besieged as the Eagles.

Broncos 40, Eagles 27