Ryan Messick, a Philadelphia Eagles blogger at Inside the Iggles, and I spent a couple days this week emailing back and forth in preparation of the Lions home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. Give our discussion a read and be part of the banter by using the comment section.
Zac Snyder: The Eagles visit to Detroit will be a homecoming of sorts for a couple players that now call Philadelphia home. Is there any buzz from Ernie Sims or Brandon Graham about Sunday’s game?
Ryan Messick: Brandon Graham is very excited about returning to Detroit. He said he’s got more than 100 people coming, and he is still a Lions fan when they aren’t playing the Eagles. Also, here are some Sims quotes for you:
On the perception about the Lions in the city of Detroit:
“Detroit fans, they’re good, they’re real good. I’ve met a ton of genuine fans that have been behind Detroit since [former Lions RB] Barry Sanders and they’ve been good loyal fans. I believe that’s how it’s going to be, this is their home opener, so I believe there’s going to be a lot of emotional fans. It’s going to be a good game, I believe.”
On whether it would feel weird to get his first regular season win in a long time against Detroit, his former team:
“I’m just trying – my first day is preparation – to get better today, so come game time I’m ready.”
On whether he has told his teammates about the Lions being a much improved football team:
“I told them that they’re good, that they’re a good ball club; well-coached, eager players. And that’s how I was, an eager player. When you have eager players their effort is through the roof. I think that’s very important when you’re playing football, effort. Effort goes a long way. Like I said before, we have to play real, real good and disciplined football and we have to dominate.”
So Shaun Hill gets the start it looks like. How much of a hit is that to the Lions chances at a win?
ZS: I don’t think it is as much as some people might think. Don’t get me wrong, I would much rather have Matthew Stafford healthy and playing but there are a number of other factors that the Lions will need to worry about to give themselves a chance to win. The Lions couldn’t get anything going on the ground against the Bears and so the offense sputtered, even before Stafford left the game with his shoulder injury. Some of that falls on Jahvid Best but most of it falls on the offensive line. Individuals played fine from time to time but the inconsistency as a unit derailed any chance the Lions had at sustained success on offense.
The Eagles will be starting a second string quarterback of their own, Michael Vick. Given Kevin Kolb’s performance against the Packers, are Eagles fans actually relieved to see Vick get the start? Andy Reid’s statements indicate their won’t be a quarterback controversy when Kolb is healthy enough to play but do the fans agree?
RM: The fans rarely agree with Andy Reid, and there is a lot of debate over who should start among the fans. To be perfectly honest, it’s ridiculous. Kevin Kolb threw 10 passes.
Were most of them bad? Yes. But there were 10. In a full season he’d throw more than 500 times and he’s being judged by fans on 10?
Not to take anything away from Vick, who looked great, but this is Kevin Kolb’s job. He’s been waiting in the wings, and the front office thinks he can be the franchise quarterback for the next decade or so. You have to find that out, and you can’t do it by starting a 30 year old Vick with one year left on his contract.
I think everyone in Philadelphia circled this game as a win the day the schedule came out. Obviously the Lions have been brutal the last few years. Any chance they take steps in the right direction this year?
ZS: There was a lot of optimism coming into the year that the Lions would at least be drastically improved on offense. I like to say that Matt Millen left this team in the position of an expansion team without the benefit of an expansion draft. The Lions had too many holes to fill after last season but they did a good job shoring up the offense and defensive line. The secondary and linebacking corps could use some work but the rebuilding of this team is more than a one year process. Week one did a lot to take the wind out of any optimism we may have had. The inability to run the ball last week, the injury to Matthew Stafford, and the call to take away Calvin Johnson’s touchdown all serves as a blow to the groin. I still think the Lions are on the right track but it seems like we will never catch a break along the way.
Fans in Philly are right to expect their team to win this week but what concerns you most going into Sunday’s game?
RM: I think the biggest concern for the Eagles is probably blocking. With Jamaal Jackson down for the year, Mike McGlynn steps in at center. He played well last week, but it’s hard to be 100 percent confident in him until he’s had a few games as the starter and you see what he can do. With Leonard Weaver gone for the season as well, it’s unclear how quickly Owen Schmitt can get acclimated and learn the playbook, which will also affect the blocking.
From offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s press conference today, it sounds like Kyle Vanden Bosch is having a huge impact on the defense. Marty just couldn’t say enough about how much of a motor he has. Would you agree with that assessment?
ZS: KVB has been tremendous in his short time as a Lion, on and off the field. Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham came out this week and said Vanden Bosch might be the best player he’s ever coached. His play on the field certainly stands out for his high motor and relentless style of play but he has been an incredible model for younger players like Cliff Avril. When your best players are also your hardest working players then you have something very special.
Alright, time for predictions. I would love to see the Lions pull out a victory but I have a hard time predicting such an outcome. I will say the Eagles win 27-20. What do you say, Ryan?
RM: I can’t see the Eagles losing this game, even with their injury problems. I think the Lions will keep it close for awhile though, as I do believe a lot of people underestimate them a bit this year. I’ll go with 24-13 Eagles, but a one score game going into the fourth quarter. To give your readers some hope, I’ll give you two things that I could see potentially swinging it the other way: Vick turnovers or Calvin Johnson drawing too many matchups against Ellis Hobbs.