Take a quick glance at the tale of the tape for Monday night’s showdown between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints.
Although he scored two touchdowns, RB LeSean McCoy was held to just 45 yards against the Falcons last week. McCoy could take the mounting pressure off the Eagles' passing game by getting untracked against the Saints, who most recently allowed 225 yards on the ground to the Broncos. Michael Vick was held under 200 yards passing for the second time in three games, throwing for 191 despite 35 attempts. Coach Andy Reid was mulling over a QB change for this contest, but has decided to give Vick a shot at redemption against the Saints.
Drew Brees' job security is in far better shape than Vick's, but his performance in Sunday night's 34-14 setback to Denver left a bit to be desired. In interim coach Joe Vitt's first contest since returning to the sideline from suspension, the top-rated passing game mustered just 213 yards. The Saints will be without RB and second-leading receiver Darren Sproles, who recently underwent hand surgery. The New Orleans rushing attack has been limited to 72.6 yards per game this
season - a full 12.5 yards less than 31st-ranked Oakland.
The Philadelphia stop unit didn't show much improvement last Sunday in its first game since secondary coach Todd Bowles replaced Juan Castillo as defensive coordinator. The Eagles surrendered a season-high 146 rushing yards and allowed scores on the Falcons' first six possessions. Less than 15 months after being diagnosed with a brain abnormality, DT Mike Patterson was activated from the reserve/non-football illness list Saturday and will suit up Monday.
New Orleans is the first team since 1950 to allow 400 yards in seven consecutive games. The Saints rank 30th in points allowed (30.9) and are allowing an NFL-worst 474.7 yards per game, more than 100 worse than last season's team which went 13-3. They showed no improvement last Sunday, allowing a season-high 530 yards.
The Saints' special teams took a hit this week with the injury to Sproles, who handles both kickoffs (averaging 28.7 yards per return) and punts (a 6.6-yard average). Special teams captain Courtney Roby (shoulder) has also being ruled of Monday night’s contest. However, K Thomas Morstead boasts an average punt of 51.3 yards (second highest in the NFL) and the return coverage is keeping that at 46.4 average yards net on punts – tops in the league.
The Eagles' special teams are nothing special, largely because coordinator Bobby April doesn't have the personnel to work with. April said WR Damaris Johnson will return punts vs. the Saints. "Damaris will be the guy. I know he's looking forward to it," April said this week. "He's from New Orleans. It'll be a big homecoming for him and I think he'll play really well."
Word on the street
"They are fixable…There were a lot of things (that were covered in) training camp, day one kind of things that shouldn't have happened. We corrected them in the meetings and we'll go from there." -- Todd Bowles on the team’s defensive issues.
"My biggest nightmare against Michael Vick was in 2004 in a playoff game when I was with the Rams… That was my first exposure to him, and he ran for 180 yards. I want to say this about Michael Vick, he is truly one of those gifted athletes that, from a coaching standpoint, can keep you up at night."—Joe Vitt on his perception of Michael Vick.