Thursday, December 07, 2006

Young QBs Have Hurt Eagles This Season

Teams with quarterbacks in their first season haven't been too kind to the Eagles this season. Tampa Bay beat the Eagles, 23-21 with rookie Bruce Gradkowski at controls. (Even though Tampa Bay scored two touchdowns on Ronde Barber interception returns, the fact that Gradkowski was the winning QB, can't be lost on the Eagles).
Houston applied a 31-13 win with Vince Young, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2006 draft, directing the offense.
That brings us to Sunday's game at FedEx Field against the 4-8 Washington Redskins.
Washington's new quarterback is Jason Campbell, who is in his second season, but the first that he is doing more than just carrying a clipboard.
Last year as a rookie, Campbell didn't get into a single game. He was the 25th overall pick in the first round in 2005 and considered the Redskins' player of the future.
That future came after the Eagles defeated the Redskins and QB Mark Brunell, 27-3 in their earlier meeting on Nov. 12 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Brunell threw for 132 yards and one interception while accumulating a paltry 49.4 passer rating. After that game Redskins coach Joe Gibbs gave Campbell his first NFL playing time.
Now Campbell will be making his fourth start. The Eagles used to devour young quarterbacks, with defensive coordinator Jim Johnson throwing one blitz after another.
That is what he should do this week. The Eagles have just six sacks in their last seven games and they need to put the heat on Campbell to have any defensive success.
The Skins will try to pound the ball with Ladell Betts, who rushed for a career-high 155 yards in last week's 24-14 loss to Atlanta.
Still, the Eagles must make Campbell try to beat them. This season the Eagles' best defensive trait has been their pass coverage.
Cornerback Lito Sheppard is having a Pro Bowl season and Sheldon Brown, while not always the surest tackler, has also been solid in coverage.
Campbell will likely see the Eagles mix their coverages in an attempt to confuse somebody who only has three NFL games on his resume.
And most of all, the Eagles can't allow another young quarterback, especially one on a not particularly good team, to beat them.