Bernard Berrian (Elsa/Getty)
Scout.com’s Adam Caplan sat down with NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell to talk about what he sees on film from the Vikings and Eagles and the intriguing matchups to watch, breaking it down just as Cosell helps do on the State Farm NFL Matchup show during the weekend.
Adam Caplan: These two teams played last year. The Philadelphia Eagles did a pretty good job against Minnesota. Let’s talk about this Philadelphia offense. Can we call them the Jekyll and Hyde offense because you never know what you’re getting? Let’s talk about their offense versus Minnesota’s defense.
Greg Cosell: I think for Philadelphia, the bottom line is people can talk about Brian Westbrook all they want, great player. I don’t think he’s been healthy all year, so he hasn’t really been used as the movable chess piece the way he has in the past. The burden falls on Donovan McNabb. They’re a passing team. Andy Reid will throw the ball. The problem with Donovan this year has been just what you said – you don’t know what you’re going to get week to week. Last week against Dallas, he was terrific. The week before against Washington, he was very erratic and uneven. If the good Donovan McNabb plays – and Andy Reid can help him with playcalling, three-step drops, five-step drops, try to get the ball out quickly – if Andy helps him and Donovan is on and gets him into a rhythm, then I think Philadelphia will be able to move the ball. Minnesota has some secondary weaknesses, particularly at right corner with Cedric Griffin. I think the star will be on him.”
AC: So Eagles will attack. Theyr’e not going to try to run a lot I would assume – they don’t have to run at all anyway. How many times do you think Donovan put up the ball? I predict 40 at least.
GC: If it’s a close game that goes into the fourth quarter, then I think his throws will approach 40 or exceed 40.
AC: Let’s talk about Minnesota’s offense and Philadelphia’s defense. Tarvaris Jackson obviously is getting the start. Let’s talk about him first. How has he played lately?
GC: I think he’s been a pretty comfortable quarterback. I think what they’ve done with him is they’ve limited his reads, limited his progressions, which is absolutely the right thing to do. He’s still a young quarterback finding his way. Obviously, it’s a team built on running the football. This where the rubber meets the road in this game for the Vikings offense and the Eagles defense. Philadelphia will have to do a couple of things. They’ll have to play terrific gap control on the inside and set the edge on the perimeter so Peterson cannot get outside. Now, the next thing you have to do with Peterson is you’ve got to get a lot of bodies around him because the Eagles could play perfect gap-control defense and if it’s (strong safety) Quintin Mikell at 200 pounds who is the single defender right there, Peterson, as the most physical, violent collision runner in the game, could run him over. So the Eagles must swarm to the football in addition to playing gap-control defense.
AC: Talking to Ron Jaworski, he said that he thinks that Bernard Berrian could make some plays in this game. He said against Dallas, although it was a horrible performance by Dallas, there were some plays to be made by Dallas but they just had some mental breakdowns.
GC: Correct. I think that’s true against the Eagles and their secondary. I think for the most part Asante Samuel is a terrific corner. He plays a certain style. He’s an off-coverage player who reads the quarterback extremely well and I think Jackson has to be careful in this game as an inexperienced quarterback. I think Sheldon Brown has had a nice year, but I think you can go after Sheldon Brown. So, yes, Berrian could hurt them. The other thing that could hurt the Eagles – the only thing that I think would give Jim Johnson cause for concern is Tarvaris Jackson can make plays with his legs in third-down situations. So if you choose to play man coverage concepts, where your defenders in a sense turn their back and Tarvaris Jackson sees open space in front of him, he’ll take off and run. He did that a couple of weeks ago for a 29-yard gain against the Falcons.
AC: One thing I did notice and you guys (Jaworski and Cosell) watching tape is that the offensive line for the Vikings is not what people think it is. You see this Eagles front four that has been playing at a pretty good level of late, let’s talk about that versus the Vikings offensive line.
GC: That’s another difficult matchup. I think the right side with (guard Anthony) Herrera and (tackle Ryan) Cook could be in for a tough afternoon and I believe the left tackle, Bryant McKinnie, who to me from watching film is just an average left tackle and struggles with his footwork and his balance – Trent Cole is playing at a very high level. He might only weight 245, 250 pounds, but he’s quick, he’s fast, he’s got some power when he gets moving and I think that’s a difficult matchup for Bryant McKinnie.