Wake-Up Call: Slowing Fitzgerald A Big Task
He has faced Philly five times in his career (including once in the postseason), and has racked up 35 catches for 570 yards and nine touchdowns. That’s seven catches, 114 yards and nearly two touchdowns per game on average. Those nine TDs are a personal high against any opponent outside of the NFC West.
“Oh, that’s news to me,” said Fitzgerald during a conference call with Philadelphia reporters. “It’s just another game to me, against a good football team, a well-coached football team, a team that’s right in the thick of the fight for the NFC East division race, and we know this game has huge implications for both teams.”
In a sense, Cary Williams (6-1, 190) and Bradley Fletcher (6-0, 200) were signed for games just like this one. (Same for next week when Calvin Johnson comes to town.) Chip Kelly gravitates towards big, physical corners in part because, quite simply, they match up better against big, physical receivers. Fitzgerald (6-3, 218) and Michael Floyd (6-2, 220) are about as big as this Eagles team has seen.
Fletcher played in the NFC West with the Rams for the first four years of his career before coming to Philadelphia, so he has gone head-to-head with Fitzgerald quite a bit. How have the matchups gone in the past?
“Not bad. I’ve been able to cover him and I look to do the same this coming weekend,” said Fletcher. “You’ve gotta play the ball, can’t wait for him to make plays. When the ball’s in the air you have to be aggressive.”
Williams faced Fitzgerald back in 2011 when he was with the Ravens. Fitzgerald caught three passes for 98 yards and was kept out of the end zone.
“I’m just going to go out there and play the way I’ve been playing, and play it aggressive, challenge everything” said Williams. “I’m not going to let him get anything easy.”
Billy Davis typically has his corners stay on their respective sides of the field as opposed to matching them up on specific receivers. Both Williams and Fletcher, then, will get their chances at Fitzgerald, whom Davis called “probably the best receiver in the league.”
“Both of those guys are really battle-tested competitors,” said Fitzgerald. “I’ve played against Fletch I don’t know how many times when he was with the Rams. We’ve battled a lot of times over the years. I got a chance to play against Cary a couple years ago when we played in Baltimore. He’s long, rangy, physical, he can really run. He’s got great ball skills and he plays with a chip on his shoulder.”
Brandon Boykin will also get a crack at Fitzgerald, who will shift into the slot at times. The 5-10 Boykin said that he isn’t worried about giving up a few inches to the 30-year-old wideout, noting that success in the slot is born out of quickness, not size.
It hasn’t mattered where or who Fitzgerald has lined up against in the past against the Eagles. He’s torched them all over the field.
“As a defensive back, you enjoy the challenge. That’s what you want, you want to go play the best,” said Fletcher. “You don’t want to have a guy dominate a game. You want to take that aspect out of it. He’s definitely a great player, but we have to limit the things that he’s able to do.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
Jason Kelce takes issue with Bruce Arians‘ comments about the read option being a “great college offense.”
Could Michael Vick be featured in sub-packages moving forward?
Mychal Kendricks is looking to return to “beast” mode.
Sheil takes stock of the defense through 11 games.
Yet another honor for Nick Foles.
If you missed our special edition of Birds 24/7 radio this week, take a listen.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Foles may be on a roll, but Arians is more concerned with another member of the Eagles’ offense. From AZCentral.com.
“You don’t worry about him at the moment,” Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said of Foles, a third-round pick in last year’s impressive quarterback class. “You better take LeSean McCoy out of the game first and then worry about Nick.
“It always starts with stopping the run for us, then getting to the quarterback. If we’re fortunate enough to stop the run in this game, then I like our chances.”
Reuben Frank writes that the Eagles are running into a red-hot Carson Palmer.
The Eagles’ improving defense will draw its toughest challenge since Week 4 against Peyton Manning on Sunday, when it faces the Arizona Cardinals and Carson Palmer, who has been no less than brilliant during the Cards’ four-game winning streak.
Palmer is 89 for 129 (69 percent) for 1,146 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions in his last four games, his finest stretch since way back in November 2006, when he was with the Bengals.
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