Week 2 match up break down: Detroit Lions

By MATTHEW WATERS
Staff Writer — mwaters@highhopesblog.com

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Michael Vick will get the start Sunday against the Detroit Lions. (Photo: AP)

Though it was obvious all along, Michael Vick was named the starter for Sunday’s game at the Detroit Lions, with Kevin Kolb and Stewart Bradley both out with their concussions. Vick under center is a much different game than with Kolb under center, and it’s the center of week two’s match up break down.

Head coach Andy Reid refuses to admit there’s a quarterback controversy despite the way Vick played in the second half of week one’s loss against the Green Bay Packers. Vick was excited and confident after his performance, but Reid said he’s keeping a calm demeanor for his upcoming task.

“As we all know he was one of the great quarterbacks in the league before being incarcerated, so I think he knows how to prepare himself for a game and keep his emotions under control so that he can function out there to the best of his abilities,” Reid said while addressing the media Friday.

It wasn’t just the Eagles and their media who figured Vick would be starting on Sunday though. With a whole week to game plan for the way Vick plays, will the Lions have a chance to contain him better than the Packers could? Simply put, my guess is no.

The Lions last year were 15th in rushing defense and 31st in passing defense, and they didn’t get a whole lot better except for second-overall draft pick Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line. With Vick showing he can not just run but also pass the ball with more efficiency than was expected, he has to be the number one focus of the Lions defense. It used to be that he would get happy feet and never let a pocket form around him but that seems to have changed, most notably because of the way he got hit by Clay Matthews a couple of times because he stood his ground to complete a pass. If that Michael Vick comes back for more in week two, the Lions secondary will be winded by halftime.

Of course, Suh won’t just stand by and watch, especially with a weakened Philadelphia offensive line. Todd Herreman’s ankle was injured last week and with new center Mike McGlynn now helping cover Suh on the double team instead of Jamaal Jackson, it’ll be interesting to see how pressured Vick is all game. If Suh breaks through early on, those happy feet may come back leaving Vick to scramble like in his days with Atlanta.

Detroit’s other first-round pick this season, running back Jahvid Best, only gained 20 yards on 14 attempts last week but finished with two touchdowns from goal line situations. Though I expect the Lions to try to get him going offensively, I don’t see him being the biggest problem this week. Backup quarterback Shaun Hill is stepping in for Matthew Stafford after Stafford suffered a shoulder injury last week, and aside from their top receiver Calvin Johnson, Hill has a pretty big target in tight end Brandon Pettigrew.

With Stewart Bradley most likely out, Omar Gaither will be stepping into the middle linebacker position and has had some trouble handling strong tight ends. With Pettigrew coming in at 6-5, 265 pounds, expect Gaither to have his hands full all game. Look for Ernie Simms, the former Lion who would love to get a win in his old stadium, to be helping a lot over the middle.

Even with the injury bug infecting nearly every aspect of Philly’s game plan, expect the Eagles to be a two-touchdown winner Sunday. As long as Vick feels confident in the pocket and isn’t getting a ton of pressure, Jackson and Maclin will abuse Detroit’s so-so secondary. Middle linebacker Landon Johnson gives up two inches and 20 pounds to Brent Celek, so he should be a big target this week as well.

Make sure to come back Sunday for post game stats, quotes and a complete wrap review of the game.

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