The Indianapolis Colts host the Philadelphia Eagles for the home opener on Monday Night Football. I spoke with Giorgos Kassakos, a writer for Inside the Iggles, to get some behind the scenes information on this week’s opponent.
1. How do the Eagles avoid another slow start like last week against the Jaguars?
It all comes down to offensive line play. Against the Jaguars, the Eagles struggled to keep the rush away from Nick Foles. Things changed in the second half due to improved play from the offensive line and adjustments made from Chip Kelly. Against the Colts, however, the Birds can’t afford to be three scores behind at half time.
2. Is the offensive line a concern after giving up five sacks and 11 tackles for losses?
Yes, the offensive line is a concern, but not because of their performance in the first game. The reason for concern is the injuries that the Eagles’ line suffered. Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre won’t play, so Philadelphia will play backups at left guard and right tackle. Keep in mind, though, that this figures to be more of a problem in pass protection than run blocking.
3. What will the Eagles approach to this unfamiliar opponent be? How do they attack the Colts on offense and defense?
The Eagles face the Colts once every four years. If I’m not mistaken, this must be the first game the Eagles will play in Lucas Oil Stadium. The Colts are an unfamiliar opponent in an unfamiliar stadium. I believe the Birds will stick with what has worked for them: try to establish the run game, mix in some screen plays and try to lure the defense closer to the line of scrimmage, in order to create more space in the back end. Defensively, the Eagles will try to win the trenches in order to take away running lanes and disrupt the passing game. The secondary is not their strong point, so penetrating the backfield will be of great importance for Philly.
4. Who is the difference-maker on the Eagles that the Colts will need to account for on offense and defense?
LeSean McCoy is the obvious answer here, but I think the Eagles will try to get Zach Ertz more involved. On defense, the Eagles strength is in team play. If I had to pick a guy, it would be linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Kendricks has been great both in preseason and against the Jaguars. He plays both the run and the pass well and his performance is very important for the team.
5. What is your prediction for the game? Who wins and why?
It looks like a 50-50 game to me. Andrew Luck can have a great game if the pass rush doesn’t get to him. On the other hand, if the Eagles manage to get McCoy going, it will be hard to stop them. The battle of the lines will most likely determine the winner. I will take the Eagles, 31-27, hoping the Colts offensive line will struggle to handle the pass rush.