The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Colts
Here’s a look at how the Eagles and Colts match up.
WHEN THE EAGLES RUN…
LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles combined for 32 carries and 145 yards in Week 1. Sproles had a big 49-yard touchdown run that sparked the offense in the third quarter. McCoy averaged just 3.5 yards per carry. This week, Chris Polk (hamstring) is probable and should be active as the Eagles’ third running back.
On the offensive line, Andrew Gardner is expected to start at right tackle, and it’ll be either Dennis Kelly or Wade Smith at left guard.
The Colts play a 3-4 and are big up front with Cory Redding (6-4, 292), Josh Chapman (6-1, 316) and Arthur Jones (6-3, 315). But both Jones (shoulder) and Chapman (ankle) are questionable. The Eagles had interest in Ricky Jean-Francois (6-3, 295) during the 2013 offseason. He’s a rotational player for the Colts.
At linebacker, Indy will be without Jerrell Freeman, its leading tackler in each of the past two seasons.
Last week, the Colts limited the Broncos to 102 yard rushing and 3.2 YPC. They will likely load the box against McCoy and play man coverage with a single high safety, something the Eagles saw a lot of last season.
WHEN THE EAGLES PASS…
Nick Foles got off to a slow start and looked jittery in the pocket, but still threw for 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Jaguars. The guess here is that the Colts will make him beat them Monday night.
Chip Kelly spent all offseason talking about how the Eagles needed to do a better job against man coverage. On Monday, we’ll see where they are in that respect. Indy’s most talented defensive player is probably cornerback Vontae Davis, who will be singled up against either Jeremy Maclin or Riley Cooper for much of the night.
Greg Toler will man the other CB spot. He is an aggressive player capable of making plays on the ball, but he was called for a pair of penalties last week and seems vulnerable to double moves and other routes downfield.
Maclin had four catches for 97 yards and a touchdown last week. It’s no stretch to say he could have had double that had Foles played better and had the offensive line protected better. But that was against Jacksonville’s Cover 3 where scheme freed Maclin up. He’ll now have to prove he can win one-on-one matchups against man coverage.
Riley Cooper (four catches, 29 yards) was a non-factor in Week 1. Jordan Matthews looked good in his debut and should be able to use his size against 5-10 slot corner Darius Butler.
Don’t be surprised if the Eagles’ running backs and tight ends are the biggest factors in the passing game. Julius Thomas had seven catches for 104 yards and three touchdowns last week against Indy. The Colts tried to use linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and safety LaRon Landry to match up with him. Neither were successful. Zach Ertz had three catches for 77 yards last week; all three receptions gained 20+ yards. He should go off against the Colts.
In addition to being their leading tackler a year ago, Freeman was also Indy’s best cover linebacker. Brent Celek, McCoy and Sproles are all capable of winning their one-on-one matchups in this game.
Up front is where the Eagles face their biggest challenge. Jason Peters was not at his best in Week 1. He’ll be playing alongside either Dennis Kelly or Smith. Gardner had some issues in protection last week. The Colts will target him at right tackle.
Indianapolis does not have a prolific pass-rush. Robert Mathis is out for the season. They need more from rush linebacker Bjoern Werner. Erik Walden, their other outside linebacker, has never had more than three sacks in a season.
WHEN THE COLTS RUN…
Former first-round pick Trent Richardson is already on his second team and has been a colossal disappointment. He rushed six times for 20 yards last week and failed to pick up more than 7 yards on a single carry. Veteran Ahmad Bradshaw carried three times for 15 yards.
The Colts are not strong on the interior. Journeyman A.Q. Shipley started at center last week. Rookie Jack Mewhort is the man at left guard, and second-year player Hugh Thornton gets the start at right guard.
The Eagles limited the Jaguars to 2.0 YPC last week. Fletcher Cox was all over the place. Nose tackle Bennie Logan and Cedric Thornton played well also. Mychal Kendricks was very active both against the run and as a pass-rusher.
It will be a surprise if the Colts are able to run the ball Monday night.
WHEN THE COLTS PASS…
This is where the Eagles’ defense will be challenged. Andrew Luck attempted 53 passes in Week 1, although some of that obviously was because Indianapolis got down early.
He has capable, but not spectacular, weapons. Reggie Wayne is 35 and coming off of knee surgery, but he led the Colts with nine catches for 98 yards last week. T.Y. Hilton had 82 grabs for 1,083 yards last season. Hakeem Nicks had five grabs for 36 yards, including a touchdown where he made a nice contested catch against Denver.
The Colts play two tight ends in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. And Bradshaw caught five balls for 70 yards last week.
Fran Duffy of PhiladelphiaEagles.com did a great job of showing how the Colts will challenge the Eagles downfield.
The defense got off to a slow start last week. Cary Williams did not play well, and both safeties – Malcolm Jenkins and Nate Allen – had breakdowns in coverage. Those issues will be exposed against a quarterback like Luck.
Brandon Boykin will see a lot of Wayne, Hilton and Nicks. According to Pro Football Focus, Wayne was in the slot for 56 pass plays last week; Hilton 54; and Nicks 47. Wayne was targeted 10 times when he was in the slot.
Up front, the Eagles’ pass-rush looked great vs. Jacksonville. They got contributions from Connor Barwin, Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Cox. Kendricks was great as a blitzer, notching a sack, three hurries and a batted pass.
The Colts have a mediocre offensive line, but Luck is tough to bring down and is a phenomenal athlete. Check out his spider graph from the draft:
The Eagles have to be disciplined in both their rush and their coverage. Luck is capable of shaking off pass-rushers, using his legs and hitting on big plays downfield.
Both of his interceptions last week came on inaccurate throws downfield in between the numbers.
Griff Whalen will return punts for Indy. He was not a factor last week. They’ve got veteran Adam Vinatieri handling field goal duties.
Cody Parkey hit both of his tries in Week 1 and notched touchbacks on five of seven kickoffs. The Colts traded Parkey to the Eagles earlier this summer. Sproles looked good on punt returns last week, and Nolan Carroll II will handle kickoffs. The Eagles’ coverage units, bolstered by free-agent signee Chris Maragos, held up well vs. the Jaguars.