The Eagles and the Lions are both struggling with unpleasant results so far from special teams on their coverage and return units. So it's tempting to say something big will "break" for either team on Sunday in the ST department. But that would be an oversimplified projection. The more probable scenario is both teams are painfully aware of their respective deficiencies and will wind up neutralizing each other's ST units.
Special teams' play has cost the Lions in their past two games, allowing two return touchdowns in consecutive weeks. Special teams coordinator Danny Crossman described himself as a teacher who had half of his students fail his exams. Crossman's class is in session again Sunday, and his students must get a passing grade to beat the Eagles. They surrendered both a punt return and a kickoff return for TDs in back-to-back games against Tennessee and Minnesota.
"I could see where somebody might think that this is our best chance so far to return a big play," Eagles special-teams coordinator Bobby April said. "All I can say is it doesn't matter whom we're playing. We're just trying to do the absolute best we can. The opponent really doesn't matter. We need to try to reach the summit in our play as early and as often as possible, regardless of who the opponent is."
The Eagles have been using a pair of rookies as returners with disappointing results. Kickoff returner Brandon Boykin is ranked 24th in the NFL in kickoff returns with a 21.2-yard average. His longest return is 29 yards. Punt returner Damaris Johnson is 28th at 6.0 yards per return. Of the 30 other punt returners ranked, his long gain of 13 yards is the lowest in the league.
And April didn't sound too optimistic Thursday about either guy breaking out of his slump against the Lions. "Are they close to breaking one? Probably not," April said. "I don't have much to go on statistically, but I do believe in those guys. They can break one at any time. Those plays are like a thunderstorm. The ingredients kind of need to be in the right place and they'll break. You never know when it's going to happen."
If the right situation arises, there is a chance wide receiver DeSean Jackson could get some action as a punt returner. He has a 10.6-yard career average and has returned four punts for touchdowns for the Eagles.
His biggest return came in 2010, when he scored on a 65-yarder on the final play of the game to give the Eagles a 38-31 victory over the New York Giants. "That's the coach's decision," Jackson said Thursday. "It's not up to me. But I'll do anything to help the team win. Punt returns are kind of my niche. I enjoy it. It's something I've been doing all my life."
But CBSSports' analyst John Kreger thinks the ST challenge of the Eagles is secondary to getting LeSean McCoy off to a big start in the running game.
"McCoy's ability to find open space outside the tackles has the Eagles' offense among the league leaders in 20-plus yard gains. Vick isn't afraid to move outside the pocket to extend plays and allow his receivers to get open -- something the Lions' incredibly average secondary can ill afford."
That's where the Lions' defensive line comes in. The 9-technique system used by coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham is designed to force mobile players like Vick and McCoy back to the middle of the field. But if there's a knock on the Lions' defensive ends, it's that they sometimes over-pursue. That can create a gap that speedy runners can exploit. It will be vital for the defensive ends to ensure there's nowhere to run on the outside. If they can keep Vick and McCoy contained, the unit can create pressure on the passing game and stand a better chance of forcing turnovers.
CBSSports John Kreger's Key matchup: Lions WRs vs. Eagles DBs: Calvin Johnson called on his fellow receivers to adopt a “no more mister nice guy” attitude against the Eagles on Sunday. Johnson said the unit needs to be more involved in the offense -- especially in the run game. “We can't let those safeties have an easy day,” he said. If the receiving corps can help spring rushers for big gains, it may help create more favorable matchups in the passing game.
Detroit receivers have also struggled with zone defensive schemes and two-high safety coverage. It will be interesting to see how Eagles CBs Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie set up against Johnson and Nate Burleson on the outside. Both DBs have made a career of effective man-to-man coverage, but that style of defense is also the type of matchup the Lions' receivers often dominate. If the Eagles go zone, it may limit the effectiveness of two of their marquee players. If Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie are allowed to jam receivers at the line and battle man-to-man, Detroit's big-play ability could be diminished.
[TJ's note--- Slot corners Brandon Boykin and Brandon Hughes better bring their lunchboxes and work gloves to the Linc on Sunday, there's going to be a lot of dirty work and cleanup inside the second level...]
Inside stuff: Lions' OC Scott Linehan told reporters during Detroit's offseason program that rookie tackle Riley Reiff (1st Round, T, 6-6, 313, Iowa) would see significant action this season, but few expected that Reiff's contributions would come in a TE-style role in pass protection. The Lions lined Reiff up as an eligible receiver on the end of the line early in several drives against the Vikings in Week 4, and the passing game had some success as a result. Detroit's O-line should be able to protect QB Matthew Stafford without Reiff's help, but don't be surprised if there's an extra tackle on the end of the line Sunday afternoon in max-protect situations.
Stat you should know: During the first four weeks, Detroit's second-year RB Joique Bell has quietly moved from a fringe player to a fully integrated member of the offense. His blocking has led to a role in the passing game as well, and Bell's 175 receiving yards rank him third among NFL running backs. Don't be surprised if he's is an active part of the passing game, especially if Detroit is trailing late.
CBSSports and Kreger are calling it 27-17, Eagles... I'm calling it "I'll take a win anyway I can get it"... It's going to be a fast track at the Linc with a forecast of sunny and 72 degrees F.--- Guess which receiver on the cover of Madden those conditions favor?
Arian Foster just blocked a punt and retunred it for a TD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111!1!!!!11!!!!
I'm in the lead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111!!!1
Jerky AND Madden Fans.....
ONLY when free agent bidding starts during you Franchise Off-season, can you get stupid Trading done.... The trading box opens after your own player signing period in 'Personnel'
My advice... Save before Superbowl.... skip thru off season until the Next year.... Write down the TOP prospects... Reload game... Trade Old veterans during FA signing period for high first round draft picks(and extra picks for later rnds or next year)....
Trade down to required spots where 'selected draft prospect' are taken whilst getting extra picks for following year...
You welcome... You have now cheated and scammed Madden 2013
Damn. They pulled Foster because they are too far behind.
The Bri Slapper loses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111!!1
Unless.... they let him gte some GL carries.
He's flopping through space at 750 mph... and his breathing is still fairly normal. You'd figure he'd be gasping and screaming.
By my calculations... he should have left a trail of flame... then simply disappeared... only to transport to another dimension... or travel back in time.
I figured he would burst into flames or simply disappear when he broke the sound barrier.
Did he break it?
Here's the best jump video. You can really see the guy plummeting through the stratersphere !
@Brozer8 That is the best one. Thats hilarious.. he's just rolling and fliiping through space... and he only gains control a bit when he started to slow down and catches more air.
@Brozer8 Pffttt.... I would have gone higher
He did do a bit on tour about his "vacation" to South Africa... and he said people thought he was on coke... so he just did more coke.
But it was a joke.
Mr Beanskiddley))) You need to check yourself... before you like... wreck yourself.
I am a big time Dave Chapelle fan. He has never been addicted to coke. He did admit to being addicted to the weed waaaay back when he was younger.
@TheGreatJB99 No Way.... I am a massive fan.... I saw him tell all about from HIS mouth... about why he stopped doing his show... I will try and find the interview
@Beandip Welp... you better not find it... cause I will send boner Lion down to Austria to smarsh your face.
@TheGreatJB99 What excuse have you heard about him leaving the show??? FIND that interview...
And answer my question below
@Beandip I dont think he was addicted to coke.
I have the block party.
@TheGreatJB99 Wasn't it when he did his Block Party thing?!? I dunno...
@TheGreatJB99 Why? It seemed pretty genuine...
Rightio.... What do you blokes know about Scorpio women?!?
This one from Mermaid Waters..... Wants Beanstalk Bad....
@Beandip Stay away! Scorpios are all nuts in the head. On second thought...go with what ya know!
@Jerky HA HAAAAAAAAAAA
I am One!!!.... and she just Text me again......
....ahem..... I am scared......
@Jerky I just tripped her out.... these stupid Text conversations give me the shits.... So I sez...'Look, tell me all the things WRONG with you so we can cut to the chase..'
Problem was.... her list was about 5
Mine was 20....
Bwah ha ha har... She still wants to go out....
@Beandip Ask her if she wants to see it.
@l30p1221n1 They said the balloon was 0.0008 inches thick, and had a diameter of 425 feet.
Just like Bri's skull.
@l30p1221n1 Now that I think about it,.....Bri HAS been absent for a few days.
@l30p1221n1 boner Lion called him a dope. He sounds pretty smart to me.
Bro Lion))) I kinda figured The Bri Slappers run was over when Schun Greene had 32 carries for 160 and 9 Td's.
But if I can get up 5 or 6 points tonight... I'd feel pretty good.
I need 125 and two or tree TD's from Foster!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!
The Bri Slapper can do it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11!1!!!
@TheGreatJB99 No, he'll only get like 3 or 4 more points.