Eagles playoff primer

Posted Jan. 05, 2011 @ 2:49 a.m.
Posted By PFW staff

PFW examines the Eagles as they prepare for the playoffs, identifying the keys to the offense and the defense, a player to watch, and what they have to do to win the Super Bowl.

Philadelphia Eagles
10-6 / First place in NFC East

Keys to offense: The Eagles have been perhaps the best big-play offense in the NFL this season. With Michael Vick at quarterback, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin at wide receiver and LeSean McCoy in the backfield, the Eagles can make explosive plays in a variety of ways. Defenses have come up with a way to slow down Vick, blitzing defensive backs (see both Giants games and the Vikings game), so the Eagles will have to iron out their protection issues and keep opponents' hands off Vick, who is dealing with some injuries, including a bruised thigh. If the Eagles can regain their mojo from the middle of the season, there are few defenses that can slow them down.

Keys to defense: One problem with having such a quick-strike offense is that the defense has to be on the field more. The depth has been seriously challenged with injuries to DE Brandon Graham and FS Nate Allen, along with MLB Stewart Bradley. They've had some recent problems generating pressure, and the red-zone defense has been poor all season. If they can regain their pass-rush touch, then the coverage — which has been uneven — won't have to be quite as sticky. Turnovers are a key; the Eagles will give up some yards but can compensate with some timely takeaways.

Player to watch: FS Kurt Coleman has stepped in for Allen, and the seventh-rounder will have a target on his back. He's not as fluid in coverage as Allen was, but Coleman is competitive, hard-hitting and instinctive. You just wonder how he'll hold up if the Eagles' pressure doesn't improve.

They'll win the Super Bowl if ... the offense wins games for them. Vick has been one of the league's dynamic players this season, and Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg have not been afraid to gun it from the opening whistle. They know that most teams can't handle the Eagles' big-play juice on offense, although the defense must take a big step up for this to be a championship club.