Here are my questions I sent to InsidetheIggles.com’s Ryan Messick:
1. How will the Eagles react to Peyton Manning’s hand signals? How should they?
Ryan: I’ve always felt that Manning’s opponents spent too much energy worrying about his audibles and caused undue distraction. While the coaches are saying the right things, I spoke with a couple of Eagles players who said they think they picked up some of Manning’s hand signals and snap counts and are hoping to take advantage. My guess is that it won’t work in the Eagles favor. I also expect the Eagles to make some changes in how they communicate their defensive calls, especially when Indianapolis goes to the “muddle huddle” offense.
2. How have the Eagles managed to survive their wave of injuries?
God only knows. While a lot has been made out of the injuries to their quarterbacks and DeSean Jackson, to me those were the least concerning. Both Michael Vick and Kevin Kolb are more than capable, so there wasn’t much dropoff in quarterback play. Likewise, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant are highly talented wide receivers, so even though Jackson is the Birds’ most explosive player, they still had good receivers while he was out.
To me, the bigger miracle was overcoming so many offensive line injuries. The Eagles lost Jamaal Jackson, their starting center, and Leonard Weaver, their fullback, for the season and lost left tackle Jason Peters for a few weeks. It seems like it’s been a revolving door at right guard, where Nick Cole, Reggie Wells and Max Jean-Gilles have all seen time. They’ve also lost Stewart Bradley, Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs and Brodrick Bunkley for at least one game a piece. One way or another, the Birds have kept their heads above water and stayed above .500.
3. Why has Andy Reid been so good after the bye week?
Well, he’s 11-0 like you said, but it’s hard to pinpoint any reason other than the extra preparation. Reid works long hours, and I suspect that he doesn’t take much time off during the bye week, although I don’t know that for sure. This week, the Colts also come in on short rest after playing on Monday Night, but the Eagles have never fared well against Peyton Manning. In three meetings, Manning has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for 737 yards, 7 touchdowns and 1 interception. His passer rating is 132.3, his highest against any opponent and the highest ever against the Eagles. The Colts have scored 35 or more in all three meetings in which Manning played, and the Eagles haven’t come within three touchdowns in any of the games.
4. How many Eagles are still dealing with injuries?
Only two really, Ellis Hobbs and King Dunlap. While several players are listed on the report with minor injuries, none should have any effect other than LeSean McCoy’s fractured rib which still isn’t quite 100 percent. McCoy will continue to wear a flak jacket, but so far he’s played well despite the injury. Hobbs is out with a hip injury, but many expected Dimitri Patterson to win his starting spot anyway after Hobbs was torched for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns two weeks ago against Kenny Britt. With Peters back, Dunlap would have returned to the bench as well. However, if Peters knee doesn’t hold up, the Eagles would either be left with an undrafted free agent at left tackle in Austin Howard, or they would have to move Todd Herremans from left guard to left tackle and replace him with Reggie Wells.
5. What is your prediction?
I think Andy Reid suffers his first career loss after the bye, mainly due to the Eagles history of struggling against Manning. I picked the Colts to win by a score of 31-24, with Manning taking the Colts down the field late in the game to get the win.