|Dr. Z's Positional Breakdown|
|How the Patriots and Eagles match up for Super Bowl XXXIX|
|Ty Warren(94) |
One of the unit's unsung heros. Plays LDT in the nickel and never came off the field vs. Pittsburgh. Technically sound. Good two-gapper. If Richard Seymour (93) doesn't return, he'll go a full game again.
|LE||Jevon Kearse (93)|
Terrific upfield speed rusher who provided just what the Eagles wanted when they signed him this year. My guess is he'll remain lined up on Brandon Gorin, rather than flop over to RDE to match quickness with Matt Light.
Just a big body to occupy blockers, so the LBs can make plays. No. 1 draft Vince Wilfork (75) comes in every other series or so.
|NT||Corey Simon(90) |
Biggest thighs in the NFL. "A real burst," says defensive line coach Tommy Brasher. Sorry, but I haven't seen it this year.
|Jarvis Green (97)|
Holding the fort until Richard Seymour returns, but he's done so much more. Stuffed the Steelers' LT Marvel Smith and LG Alan Faneca, thereby shutting down their left-side running game. Plays with great leverage and technique, rushes the passer, does it all. My choice for MVP in the Steelers game.
|RT||Darwin Walker (97)|
Had a great season two years ago when he was playing for a contract. Started this season slowly. Decent now. Two more tackles join the rotation, Hollis Thomas (78) a sturdy run-plugger, and Sam Rayburn (91) a second-year pro who really blossomed this season.
Actually listed as an OLB, he plays a rush position just as often. Will line up on the left side in the base defense, but will appear all over in the situational packages. Pops up at just the right place, at the right time.
Injuries have plagued his career, but against Atlanta he showed what he could do when healthy. Put a good rush on Michael Vick, but was most effective dropping back and shadowing Vick on his scrambles.
|Mike Vrabel (50) |
Smart, versatile player who can rush from the Edge in the nickel defense, or drop back and into coverage. Converted DE.
|SLB||Dhani Jones (55)|
Functional run-stopper who keeps improving. Comes out early for nickel back in long-yardage situations.
|Ted Johnson (52) |
The old-fashioned values. Stuff the guard, stone the fullback, stop the ball-carrier. Teddy's the hammer, master of this almost forgotten art.
|MLB||Jeremiah Trotter (54)|
Had an instant impact on run defense when they plugged him in at midseason. Dangerous when he's on a roll. Interesting matchup with Koppen.
|Tedy Bruschi (54)|
Played at All-Pro level late in the season. Pass-rushing phenom out of college, now one of the smartest LBs in NFL. Mans the middle in nickel and dime defenses.
|WLB||Keith Adams (57)|
Made his reputation as a wedge-buster on kick team. Worked his way into the lineup and erupted in a run-stopping frenzy against the Falcons in the postseason.
Good ball instincts. Gets his hands on a lot of them, but a double-catcher whose deflections set up picks for other people.
His five picks, two for TDs, got him into the Pro Bowl. The emergence of Sheppard and RCB Sheldon Brown as superior cover men lets Jim Johnson still run his multiple blitz schemes.
|Rodney Harrison(37) |
Will miss the occasional tackle, but will make up for it by rattling some teeth on the next one. Milks the "We don't get respect" angle for all its worth. Will get some action against Westbrook when he's in the slot.
Sound, instinctive player. They're not afraid to put him on the TE, but he struggled against Alge Crumpler last game. Probably will lock onto Daniel Graham. Pro Bowl starter.
|Eugene Wilson(26) |
Versatile cover man who can also lay on a lick. Drafted as a cornerback, has filled in at the left corner at times. Look for him to run with Westbrook downfield when the Eagle RB is lined up on the flank.
Is he starting to slip at 31? Nah, he still brings it on his blitzes, reacts to the ball, runs the secondary. The third Eagles Pro Bowl DB. Still the best in the business.
Rookie free agent entrusted to cover the slot receiver in the nickel and dime packages. Plays on an even keel. Won't get rattled.
Not a Pro Bowler, but a Sports Illustrated All-Pro. Tough, muscular corner who won't back down from any receiver. Good jammer.
Nickelback Troy Brown (80) has slot coverage. For a converted WR, he sure likes to rough up his old compadres. Hank Poteat (31) is the dime back, all by his lonesome on the right corner. Why didn't the Steelers test him deep and make him run for his money? Beats me. I'll bet the EAGLES will with Lewis. Rosevelt Colvin (59) spells Willie McGinest as a rusher, and Roman Phifer (95) could fill in anywhere.
Roderick Hood (29) is the first one in, manning the right corner, with Brown moving to SLB. The Patriots will put a lot of wideouts on the field, forcing the Eagles to go deeper in their roster, which means Matt Ware (21) and J.R. Reed (30), who share the dime spot. Ike Reese (58), an aggressive, active LB, will go to the middle, and Nate Wayne (51) will spell Adams.
|TOTAL: Patriots 6-5-1.|
New England's defense gave up 4,972 yards and 27 TDs; Philly's numbers were 5,115 and 29.
|Dr. Z's Breakdowns: Offense | Special Teams|