- Gary Horton, Scouts Inc.
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This week's "Monday Night Football" game (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET) features the Browns on the road versus the Eagles. Scouts Inc. has all the story lines to watch in this showdown:
Relying on Rogers
Cleveland needs a big game from NT Shaun Rogers against the Eagles. If he clogs up the middle, as he usually does, it will force RB Brian Westbrook to widen his runs, and that gives the Browns' athletic defense a chance to pursue and force Philadelphia to run more east and west.
Pound the rock and shorten the game
Somehow, the Browns must be able to eat some clock on offense, but they are No. 26 in the league converting third downs. This puts their mediocre defense on the field too long, which wears them down and allows opposing offenses to make big plays. In order to prevent this from happening in Philadelphia, they must run the ball and shorten the game, especially because they have a third-string quarterback and underachieving receivers.
Smith's increased role
The Eagles will use Westbrook a lot, but they will also get the ball to TE L.J. Smith on slants and seam routes, especially off play-action now that defenses have to honor the run and bring their linebackers up to the hole. Smith will be key to the Eagles' high-percentage passing offense.
Run the draw
The Eagles are getting a lot of production from the draw play with Westbrook, and they are running it primarily out of the shotgun formation. The offensive linemen are doing a nice job of showing pass before they attack the defenders, and Westbrook is great at being patient while reading the blocks and getting to the second level. However, they must be aware of Rogers: If he plays a two-gap technique and sits in the hole, it will be tough for the Eagles to run the draw inside, but if he attacks one of the A-gaps and the Eagles double-team him and ride him past the hole, it should open a nice crease for Westbrook.
Gary Horton, a pro scout for Scouts Inc., has been a football talent evaluator for more than 30 years. He spent 10 years in the NFL and 10 years at the college level before launching a private scouting firm, The War Room.
13hEric D. Williams