Friday, October 31, 2008

Questions Heading into Sunday?

by: Michael Steffes

Here are some of the big questions I see heading into Sunday. How the Hawks answer these will go a long way in deciding the outcome of the game. Lets dive right in....

How will the Hawks contain Brian Westbrook?
If the Hawks are going to have a chance, they are going to have to limit the effectiveness of top 5 running back Brian Westbrook. One thing that makes Westbrook so dangerous is that he will line up in numerous spots, including as the slot the receiver. The Hawks would be well served to use a combination of players to handle Westbrook. Expect to see Deon Grant and Brian Russell keeping tabs on Westbrook when he leaves his traditional position in the backfield. Grant is probably the better bet. Having Julian Peterson keep tabs on Westbrook would also be a decent match up, but he might be busy elsewhere, which leads to the next question...

Where will the pressure come from? With Patrick Kerney likely to sit this one out, the Hawks may have some difficulty creating pressure on the Eagles Donvan McNabb, something they have to do if they want to win. Their best bet to get some hits on the Eagle QB come from their duo of OLBs in Julian Peterson and Leroy Hill. I imagine a game plan similar to that Wild Card game last year when Kerney was often double and triple teamed. Peterson has been a regular pass rush threat this year, but Leroy Hill has been under-utilized in this role, despite it being one of his best attributes. If the Hawks want to win, they should send Leroy down Hill early and often.

Can the Hawks score enough points to win?
This is probably the biggest question every week these days. The Hawks are playing with a back up qb, receivers who were on their couch a month ago, and are playing against a tough as nails defense. To combat this, the Hawks are going to need to focus on simply getting one first down at a time. Every first down the offense gets keeps Philly of the field and gives the defense a chance to catch its breath. The Hawks have been focusing on the running game this week and shoring up what has ailed them the last few weeks. Mo Morris had a career game vs Philly last year and Julius Jones knows them well. Also the Hawks have run better at home. Having a balanced offense this week is the only way to beat the Eagles. If the Hawks are forced into traditional passing situations, Seneca is going to get pummeled.

Who will step up for the Hawks? Well, I pointed out earlier this week that the Eagles have a tough time with tight ends. This means Carlson could be in line for a big game. However, that won't be enough. The player who needs to make his impact felt is Bobby Engram. It has been several weeks since Bobby has been back. He has yet to really make a big impact. However, he and Seneca were close to some big plays last week. If there was any week for Bobby to break out and look like the Engram of old, it is this week. Having an effective threat on the outside will open things up for both Carlson and the run game. One tip for Johnny... make sure you know were Brian Dawkins is. That guy can hit! ~END~