The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Lions


1. Donnie Jones’ NFL career nearly ended right after it started. He bounced around from the practice squad to the active roster with the Seahawks back in 2004, but punted poorly. He bought an apartment in Seattle, figuring he’d be there for awhile, but soon found out that life as a pro would be a little more complicated. In the Seahawks’ 10th game that season, Jones got eight opportunities to do his job and came up small.

“Averaged 32 yards, a 28-yard net, I got booed out of the stadium and people were telling me, ‘You need to be behind a desk, get a day job,” Jones recalled. “So I got on the phone, started calling.

“Just trying to find anything. I got my degree in finance. Trying to find something in that industry. But calling around just talking to some of these people and what they were doing. There was one guy I talked to in New York, and he was telling me he was living in basically a box making nothing. But I’m looking at all options because like I said, I haven’t done anything.”

Jones got a call from his college coach at LSU, Nick Saban, who was with the Miami Dolphins. Veteran Matt Turk tore his groin, and Jones took over. He stuck in Miami for two seasons, spent five years with the Rams, one with the Texans and is now in Philadelphia where Jones has earned back-to-back Special Teams Player of the Week honors.

“There’s a lot of good guys who never make it because there’s 32 positions,” Jones said. “So timing has a lot to do with it.”

2. Cary Williams has dueling on-field personalities. Against some receivers, like Hakeem Nicks, he’ll help up the opponent and demonstrate an on-field respect. Against other receivers, like Dez Bryant, he’ll do whatever he can to get into their heads, even if that means exchanging blows after the whistle.

So what’s the deal?

“I don’t know, man. Sometimes I try not to get too amped up or too emotional in the game,” Williams said. “Sometimes I just want to keep my composure and stay within myself and not hurt the team. So sometimes you may see me go out there and try to be physical and get in guys’ heads. Sometimes you may see me back off. But I’m just making sure I’m getting in the rhythm of the game and trying to do the best job I possibly can.”

Don’t look for Williams to do anything this week but try to compete and survive against Calvin Johnson.

“From a scale of 1 to 10, I think he’s a 10,” Williams said. “I think he’s the best wide receiver in this game. He’s proven it week in and week out, year in and year out. He’s a big, physical guy. A guy that’s 6-6 and 230 pounds running a 4.3 40. That’s impressive.”

3. Both Billy Davis and Kelly revealed this week that they prefer to not be a blitzing team on defense.

“The math alone, when you send more than four, you are weakening your coverage,” Davis said. “When you drop more than you usually drop and you only rush three, well, now all of a sudden you’re weakening your rush. So it’s always… you’re always moving the numbers around, and absolutely, yeah, I’d love a three‑man rush to be honest with you, the three‑man rush to get there, that’s the perfect world.

“But the four‑man, and that’s what a lot of the four‑down teams do… they get the four best rushers and defensive linemen they can get and they only rush four. So absolutely, the answer is yes, so you would rather not have to add the extra rushers. You would rather add the coverage plus get your pressure.”

Kelly pointed out that rushing fewer guys can help create turnovers on the back end.

“When you can cause a pass‑rush with four guys and get to the quarterback a little bit, now we have guys who have eyes back to the quarterback and kind of locate it,” he said.

The problem this year has been that the pass-rush is a work-in-progress. It’s come on strong as of late, but Davis has still felt the need to blitz to get pressure. And that figures to continue down the stretch.

4. Speaking of the pass-rush, Trent Cole is playing his best football of the year. He has five sacks, five hurries and 31 tackles in the last four games. Cole has been criticized in the past for slowing down the stretch, but he is buying into the sports science factor this time around.

“I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my career right now,” Cole said. “I feel like I’m probably still in the first game of the season. I really do. You’re usually feeling sore. But right now, even though it’s a Thursday, I don’t even feel one ounce of soreness or nothing. Your body feels good and this is the way you want to feel going into a game.”

Cole is still being asked to perform a variety of duties. According to Pro Football Focus, he dropped back in coverage a season-high 13 times last week. His production down the stretch is a key storyline for this defense.

5. Earlier this week, we wrote about the Eagles’ run-game wrinkles. One other thing they did last week was run with the QB under center. Through the first 11 games, only 13 of LeSean McCoy’s 213 carries (6.1 percent) came with the QB under center. Against Arizona, four out of 19 (21.1 percent) were under center.

“There’s multiple reasons for doing it, but when you’re under center, you’re not reading,” said guard Evan Mathis. “You take the reads out of it. Changing it up, defenses don’t know exactly what you’re doing if you’re showing different looks at all times.”



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  • Tom wL

    Big difference from last week is that Detroit does not have a strong defense and actually has a horrid pass defense. I would compare their overall defense to the bucs … Strong dline play followed by a very weak secondary. If we don’t beat ourselves on offense, we should be able to put up atleast 31 pts on these guys fairly easily (if wind isn’t a major factor). Lions will score some points but we should win the turnover battle and field position battle and penalty rate. Lions are not a well coached team so I believe that is another strong advantage for us. If we get up early which we have consistently done all season, we should be able to dictate the pace. Stafford will cough it up and we will score. Wrs will have big games for the birds.

    • Aran

      I don’t anticipate a game in the coming weather to be a high-scoring affair, and Shady won’t be able to cut for his yards on that field through the #3 run D. Bush wasn’t cutting in practice yesterday, but they do have Bell.

      • Tom W

        Ehh.. mid 30s light snow and light wind … not that bad overall. vegas still has the total around 53.5 …. While i think it goes under, I could see us winning 27-24 or 30-21

    • Dr Rick

      Good points. I think this is a game where the up tempo will be particularly effective, and think CK will really use it. The more plays we can get in against the Lions’ D the better we will do. We need to keep Stafford off the field as much as possible. On D, just not giving up anything cheap should keep us in position for a turnover or 3, and get the O back on the field.
      Go Birds!

  • Andy124

    The better team doesn’t always win. If the better team wins on Sunday, the Eagles will be on a 5 game winning streak.

  • Adam

    These quotes about players feeling the best they have in their career this late into the season gives me a quarter chub. I love you so much, Mystery Man Shaun Huls.

    • G_WallyHunter

      And those two assistants that Tim revealed yesterday, again, supposed to be classified..

      If multiple teams have similar programs in place next year ill be pointing my finger at u know who, the guy who basically published a blueprint

      • Adam

        Unless we keep the same 53 man roster and coaching staff for the next 10 years, I’m not sure it’s going to stay a secret for long.

        • anon

          Exactly, Im sure Issac already talked to bellichik about it

        • G_WallyHunter

          Ya unfortunately, I just hope no other teams can organize a program as effective as this one, as I said in previous post, of course teams will get inside scoop on what it is exactly that they do, the facts, methods, tweaks. The challenge is putting it all together as well as Huls and co have. On another note, lets hope this staff is loyal and sticks around for a while, especially if they keep this up (then again, if they keep this up they’ll be getting calls, so hopefully they don’t take the bait)

        • TNA

          Unless other teams know how Huls is crunching the numbers to come up with the customized treatment/recovery/diet/workout plan, that stuff will remain an Eagles secret unless Huls is hired away. The lifestyle changes, the players can keep and good for them – it’s stuff they should’ve been doing anyway.

          If everybody in the league starts measuring players’ sleep habits and gets guys to sleep 8-10 hrs a night, and the quality of play across the league starts to go up, and there are less late-night NFL-player related PR disasters, the NFL should thank CK and give him a job if he wants it after his coaching career is over.

    • BlindChow

      Clones! IT’S ALL CLONES!!

  • knighn

    Google Jim Schwartz and the picture from this article comes up:

    Bottom line: whether the Big Blue Pussies win or lose, Jim Schwartz is a Douchebag.

    • Adam

      Oh god, what a doucher. He looks like Drew Rosenhaus.

      • knighn

        They need to change their names:
        Drew Rosenhaus —> Douche Rosendouche
        Jim Schwartz —> Douche Sharts

  • EaglePete

    anyone notice Celek make that first down catch last week then get this…..not make the 1st down hand motion…looked at sidelines and lined up for the next play. Loved it.

    • BlindChow

      Instead, he now does the motion every time he beats a stoplight.

    • EaglefaninAZ

      No time for that when you’re not huddling.

  • G_WallyHunter

    Dammit not john lynch again, I’d rather put the game on mute. I believe he did the SD game and I remember how much he sucked. Too many concussions make for some hilariously repetitive comments and name mix-ups

    • bentheimmigrant

      Anything’s better than last week.

      • G_WallyHunter

        ya lol moose is almost as bad

        • bentheimmigrant

          Almost? Those guys were freaking out because we lined up with 25 seconds on the play clock. They didn’t even consider that we might not snap it straight away.

          • G_WallyHunter

            Ya that was comical, they were going pretty crazy, critiquing it as usual. “I’ll tell ya moose, I just don’t understand what these Eagles are doing, why are they snapping it with over 10 seconds on the clock?” .. wouldn’t shut up about it.

            John Lynch sucks, listen for name screw ups on Sunday, he loves them.. or lines like “The thing about this offense is that it just isn’t effective without effective execution and effectively moving the chains”… he loves stating things like that, as if it’s unique to the team he’s talking about.

  • EaglePete

    Our D line has to get serious pressure on Stafford and force him to throw out of timing, hopefully get some turnovers. Sack fumbles and INTs otherwise it may be a shootout.

    • Mr. Magee

      Agree… I think whichever team gets better pressure on the QB wins the game.