It may only be week three of the 2013 NFL season, but Thursday Night Football will feature a huge early season game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.
Simply put, there’s a lot on the line.
For the Chiefs, a possible 3-0 start is at stake, as is the respect that comes with it. Considering this is an organization that only won two games total last season, starting the season with three straight wins would be huge.
Oh, new head coach Andy Reid also spent 14 years as coach of the Eagles before this season, so there’s that as well.
If Kansas City wants to win, it’s going to come down to stopping the high-powered Chip Kelly orchestrated offense, so without further ado, here are three Eagles the Chiefs’ defense must shut down this Thursday night.
1. DeSean Jackson, WR
Make no mistake about it, DeSean Jackson will spread the field for Philadelphia’s offense. The Eagles have been going to him early and often, and he’s responded by catching 16 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns.
Jackson has big play ability, so the Chiefs may want to consider utilizing bracket coverage on him. Basically that means a corner will have him on underneath routes, with a safety playing over top. The only issue with that is that bracket coverage will open up the field for another wideout in Philly’s offense.
Still, Jackson is averaging 18.6 yards per catch, so he’ll need to be the main focus of Kansas City’s defense.
2. LeSean McCoy, RB
LeSean McCoy is a dynamic weapon out of the backfield for Philadelphia. The Eagles are ranked No. 2 in the NFL rushing the ball, per ESPN, and much of that has to do with McCoy. In two games, he’s put up 237 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries. That includes an 184 yard performance against Washington in Week 1.
McCoy can also be utilized as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, and so far he’s notched six receptions for 119 yards for the Eagles.
Stopping McCoy on the ground will be a must for Kansas City, as it will make the Eagles one-dimensional, but the Chiefs must also pay attention to him leaking out of the backfield.
3. Michael Vick, QB
Kelly could not have asked for a better quarterback to run his offense than Michael Vick. While not the explosive and dynamic superstar he once was, Vick is still one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the NFL. Plus, he’s getting it done with his arm.
In two games this season, Vick has thrown for 631 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Yes, you read that right—zero interceptions.
He’s also rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns, fumbling twice and losing one fumble, though.
For Kansas City to win, the Chiefs will have to force Vick into mistakes, and that often times means getting him to scramble. It’s a catch-22, because on one-hand, he’s a dangerous runner. On the other, he also struggles with ball-security.
The Chiefs’ secondary has also been opportunistic, so look for them to be aggressive to try to bring out shades of the old, inconsistent Vick.