Inside The Eagles-Dolphins Match-up
By: Alexander Alvarez
The Philadelphia Eagles will roll into Sun Life Stadium holding the same 4-8 record as the Miami Dolphins but the record for both these teams is only the beginning of the story. In the off-season one could have easily said the Eagles were Super Bowl contenders, snatching up free agents Ronnie Brown, Vince Young, Nmanmdi Asomugha, and receiving Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie via trade for Kevin Kolb, with all these moves and more the Eagles were early favorites to make it all the way to the Super Bowl but since then self-proclaimed “Dream Team” has had an up and down season that has a lot of people wondering if the focus this off season should have gone elsewhere. As for the Miami Dolphins their biggest off season moves were getting running back Reggie Bush from the Saints via trade, signing quarterback Matt Moore and linebacker Kevin Burnett, and all three of the moves proven to have been very valuable.
Through the eyes of the players and coaches
• Reggie Bush
(On being surprised the Eagles are 4-8 despite the talent) – “I mean, not really because knowing this game and knowing how quickly you can be humbled. It doesn’t matter how much talent you have individually on a team. It takes a team to win some games. So it doesn’t surprise me. I know they’ve got great players on the team and they’re a really good team, but I’ve been in that position before where we’ve had a great lineup, great roster. But you have to play together well as a team and which also the reason why we are 4-8.”
(On what have you’ve seen from Philadelphia’s defensive line and linebackers?) – “They’re a fast defense. A little undersized, but they’re fast. They move around quick. They can do a good job creating pressure on the quarterback starting with the defensive ends. So we have to do a good job at maintaining that and dominating upfront and controlling them the whole game. The running backs got to get chip blocks on the D-ends. And just do a good job at making sure Matt (Moore) has a enough time back there to throw the ball and when he do that he’s an effective quarterback. He plays well. We just got to make sure it an emphasis that we protect him.”
• Matt Moore
(On what he sees in the Eagles secondary and defense) – “Well obviously they’ve got two corners that have been around for a while, good player, you know what I mean. You have to know, kind of where they are at if you will at all times. Asante (Samuel) is a guy has made a lot of big plays and then Nnamdi (Asomugha) is a guy that is not afraid to in receivers face and jam, he’ll run with you and so those are good guys. I know their safeties, they’re aggressive guys. Make some plays in the back end and real aggressive in the run game as well and they make plays that way. The front seven, just kind of non-stop guys, especially their front four, they come off the edge hard and tons of speed so we need to be aware of that. I know our offensive line will do a good job with that, but they have got some players. The way they play is just really aggressive and so it’s going to be a challenge. We’ve got a good plan we just need to execute.
• Coach Tony Sparano
(On the challenges of facing Michael Vick) -“Obviously a tough challenge, the guy creates like not too many people that I’ve been around or played against and I’ve played against him several times. The hard challenge with him is there’s a fine line when you don’t know when he’s about to run it or when he’s about to throw it over your head. You can kind of get caught, if you don’t trust your eyes you can get caught kind of peaking a little bit. And I think all of a sudden as soon as bite on him the ball ends up over your head. And that’s why this team has got the number of big plays that they have right now. They have a tremendous amount of big plays. They lead the National Football League in 20-plus yard runs. I think they have 29. They have chunk plays in the pass games largely due to what he does outside of the pocket. So we got to do a good job of keeping him in the pocket but more importantly plastering receivers, staying on the receivers as the play breaks down.”
Defenses by the Numbers
• The Eagles 2nd ranked running game (157.1 yds/game) will face off the Dolphins 5th ranked run defense (93.2 yds/game)
• Miami has 9 INT’s this season (at least 1 in each of the last 4 games)
• Eagles have thrown a total of 17 INT’s in their losses (at least 1 INT in the last 5 games)
• Eagles’ Defense has 11 INT, with the back field consisting of Asante Samuel (2 INT) Nmamdi Asomugha (3 INT) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (0 INT)
Miami Dolphins Offense
• Reggie Bush last week surpassed his previous carrier high in rushing yards 581, and is now at 667 for the season, also he has at least 1 TD in the last 4/5 games.
• Daniel Thomas has 504 yards this season so far and is averaging 3.46 yards/carry since his return.
• Matt Moore has 4 TD’s and 0 INT’s in the last 3 games
Philadelphia Eagles Offense
• LeSean McCoy has 1134 yards this season with 12 TD
• DeSean Jackson since week 5 at Buffalo has only 3 games over 50 yards
• Jeremy Maclin is averaging 68 yards per game in the 9 games that he has played
What to look for on Sunday
Look for both teams to be playing at a high level despite what the records say. The Eagles running game will be put to the test vs. the much improved Dolphins defense. It’s going to be an interesting matchup watching the two headed monster that is Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas go up against the Eagles 17th ranked run defense, look for big games out of the wide receivers despite the fact they are going up against all-pro caliber corners who have had their struggles tackling this season. Darkhorses present themselves in rookies Clyde Gates and Charles Clay.
This will also be Michael Vick’s first start since missing 3 games so look for the rust to be there and the Dolphins defense to exploit that. No matter what anybody tells you about these two teams and what their records are you can be sure of one thing, that they will both be playing with plenty of intensity and at the end of the day one team will leave this game 5-8 and the other at 4-9 and a lot more than just the sour taste of defeat in their mouths.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed by The Finsiders Blog represent those of individual writers, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions, policies or desires of the Miami Dolphins organization, front office, coaches and executives. Writers' views are formulated independently from any inside information and/or conversation with Dolphins officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.