GameScout: Seahawks at Eagles


Posted Nov 30, 2007


The Seahawks' pass-first approach isn't expected to change much with RB Shaun Alexander available. But don't be surprised to see Alexander get a few early carries, especially on draw plays. QB Matt Hasselbeck is taking a pounding with defenses blitzing with no fear of the run, and the Eagles got several good licks on Patriots QB Tom Brady while playing an aggressive 3-3-5 look last Sunday.

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Seattle Seahawks (7-4) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)
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GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 12/02/07
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: 11th meeting. Eagles lead series, 6-4, although the Seahawks won the last meeting, in Philadelphia in 2005, 42-0. That was a game in which the Seahawks intercepted Philly's quarterbacks four times, returning two for touchdowns.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Seahawks' pass-first approach isn't expected to change much with RB Shaun Alexander available. But don't be surprised to see Alexander get a few early carries, especially on draw plays. QB Matt Hasselbeck is taking a pounding with defenses blitzing with no fear of the run, and the Eagles got several good licks on Patriots QB Tom Brady while playing an aggressive 3-3-5 look last Sunday. Hasselbeck is also without his top playmaker downfield, injured WR D.J. Hackett. ... Whether it's Donovan McNabb or A.J. Feeley under center, expect the Eagles to run the ball far more than the 19 times they did against the Patriots. The Seahawks are second in the league with 35 sacks and will get after either quarterback. But their front seven is smallish and should have a tough time against the Eagles' physical offensive line.

KEY INJURIES: Seahawks: Hackett (ankle sprain) is out at least two weeks; Alexander (knee) and MLB Lofa Tatupu (ribs) are expected to play. Eagles: McNabb (ankle) hopes to return after missing a game; DT Broderick Bunkley (knee/hamstring) is uncertain; SS Quintin Mikell (knee) is likely to miss a second straight game.

FAST FACTS: The Seahawks have averaged 28.2 points the past five games. ... Eagles RB Brian Westbrook is on pace for 387 touches this season. His career high is 322.

PERSONNEL NEWS:

Seahawks:

--RB Shaun Alexander practiced again Thursday and is expected to play Sunday.
--RB Maurice Morris returned to practice Thursday and should play despite a sprained ankle.
--LB Lofa Tatupu did not practice Thursday because of sore ribs but is expected to play.
--DT Rocky Bernard did not practice Thursday with a sore groin but is expected to play Sunday.

Eagles:

--QB Donovan McNabb didn't practice again Thursday and his status for Sunday's game against Seattle remains uncertain. Coach Andy Reid said this week that if McNabb is healthy he will start.
--QB A.J. Feeley took all of the first-team reps in practice again Thursday, but still doesn't know whether he'll be starting against Seattle. With Donovan McNabb out with ankle and thumb injuries, Feeley started last week's game against the Patriots.
--S Quintin Mikell, who is recovering from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee, didn't practice Thursday and probably will miss his second straight game Sunday.
--S J.R. Reed is expected to make his second straight start Sunday at strong safety in place of injured Quintin Mikell. Reed played very well last week against the Patriots and had several big hits, including one on Randy Moss.
--DT Brodrick Bunkley practiced only on a limited basis for the second straight day. Bunkley has a hamstring and MCL sprain, but hopes to play Sunday against Seattle.

INSIDE THE CAMPS:

Seahawks:

Now that Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has made clear -- both through his words and his actions -- that his team is committed to a pass-first offense, teams are beginning to devise ways to more readily get to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

The Seahawks experienced their first go-round with that last week, when St. Louis Rams coordinator Jim Haslett sent just about everybody he could to flummox Hasselbeck. That strategy resulted in two sacks on the first series, three sacks by halftime and enough consternation on Seattle's sideline that the Seahawks did not get a first down until 7:06 remained in the half.

Holmgren has made it a point of emphasis this week against the Eagles, who employ a similar blitzing scheme as the Rams'.

"If anything, it's become clear that we have to put that at the top of our list to fix or to start with in practice to make sure our protections are right," Holmgren said. "I guess what we're doing is spending more time on that."

Holmgren said he added an additional practice period every day to address the issue with his offensive linemen, who have made a combination of mental and physical errors. Holmgren also used some tactics against the Rams last week that he may employ against the Eagles.

He used the hurry-up offense toward the end of the first half, taking the Rams out of their blitzing schemes. He utilized the draw play more readily. He had Hasselbeck roll out a few times.

But, more important, he told Hasselbeck to stop audibling because the Rams were then adjusting to what Hasselbeck called and sending pass rushers to the place that Hasselbeck changed the play from.

"I'm not planning on this being a big audible game," Hasselbeck said. "Just what I can tell from Mike (Holmgren), he's going to call the game in such a way that I'm not going to have to audible, which is nice. Especially on the road, we'll just get up and we'll run our plays and do it the best we can."

Eagles:

It still is uncertain who will be the Eagles' starting quarterback Sunday when they play host to the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field. Coach Andy Reid said emphatically on Wednesday that Donovan McNabb will start if he's healthy. But McNabb, who missed last week's game against New England with a sprained ankle and jammed thumb, didn't practice Thursday. He also didn't practice on Wednesday.

Asked about McNabb's status Thursday, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said, "He's day-to-day."

How late can the Eagles wait before making a decision on their starter?

"That's up to Andy," Mornhinweg said. "We've installed a game plan and (we're ready) to go. We don't think too much about it. If Donovan's ready then he'll go. It's that simple."

That would seem to indicate that the Eagles would be willing to wait until the morning of the game before making a determination on McNabb's readiness. But it's hard to believe they would put him in if he hadn't taken a single practice snap in two weeks.

A.J. Feeley started against the Patriots and played very well, with the exception of his three interceptions. He completed 27 passes in the 31-28 loss and threw for three touchdowns.

One thing that might make Reid reluctant to play McNabb this week: snow is in the forecast for Sunday. With McNabb still recovering from a torn ACL, he might not want to risk him re-injuring it in a bad-weather game.



Related Stories
Notebook: Alexander Returns to Practice
 -by NorthwestFootball.net  Nov 29, 2007
MMQB: Seahawks 28, Eagles 24
 -by NorthwestFootball.net  Dec 2, 2007
Seahawks Post-Game Quotes
 -by NorthwestFootball.net  Dec 2, 2007

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