Panthers Look to Take Advantage of McNabb-Less Eagles on Monday Night
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The Carolina Panthers are desperate to get their sputtering offense going. A matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles could do the trick.
The Panthers will look to bounce back from an ugly loss when they visit the Eagles on Monday night.
Carolina (6-5) was held to 264 yards in Sunday's 17-13 defeat to Washington, which came into the game with the NFC's worst defense. Steve Smith, who leads the NFL with 100.4 receiving yards per game, managed only 34 and Jake Delhomme threw two interceptions, including one on his final pass.
The poor offensive performance left many observers questioning whether Delhomme should still be the Panthers' starting quarterback. Coach John Fox, however, insisted he is sticking with Delhomme.
``When you drop back to pass the ball it's a team effort,'' Fox said. ``Whenever you don't play well enough to win I'm not sure it's one guy. It's definitely not just Jake.''
Carolina's running game wasn't much better, as the Panthers managed only 101 yards on the ground, narrowly avoiding their fifth sub-100-yard rushing performance in six games. Rookie running back DeAngelo Williams, who started for the injured DeShaun Foster (elbow), gained only 63 yards on 17 carries.
The Panthers ran for a franchise-record 242 yards the previous week in a 15-0 win over St. Louis. Foster, listed as questionable against the Eagles, gained 63 yards against the Rams, while Williams had 114.
The Eagles (5-6), on the other hand, are coming off a poor effort in defending the run. They allowed Indianapolis rookie Joseph Addai to rush for 171 yards and four touchdowns in a 45-21 loss to the Colts on Sunday night.
Indianapolis gained 237 yards on the ground, becoming the third team in four games to rush for more than 200 against Philadelphia.
The Eagles have lost five of six since a 4-1 start.
``We need to get better at stopping the run,'' coach Andy Reid said. ``I didn't think it was a lack of effort. I thought they were aggressive. We had too many blown assignments. It comes down to assignments and it comes down to scheme. The mental part of it, I thought they were emotionally ready to go.''
The Eagles' front four was also ineffective in pressuring the quarterback, as Philadelphia failed to record a sack for the third time this season. The Eagles have just six sacks in their last six games after picking up 23 in their first five.
``It is the same group that came out and held Tiki Barber to whatever yards we had against him,'' Reid said of limiting the New York Giants' top back to 51 yards on 21 carries in an overtime loss in Week 2. ``We just have to get back into it and get out of the funk that we are in right now.''
Jeff Garcia made his first start in place of five-time Pro Bowler Donovan McNabb, who's out for the season with a torn knee ligament, and completed 19 of 23 passes for 140 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Garcia left the game with a strained right forearm, but Reid said Monday that the quarterback is feeling better and listed him as probable for the Panthers game.
Running back Brian Westbrook gained 124 yards on 20 carries last week, becoming the first Philadelphia player since Wilbert Montgomery in 1981 with three straight 100-yard games. That effort, however, wasn't nearly enough to get the Eagles past the Colts.
``We just didn't make the plays out there,'' Reid said. ``I'm going to step up and tell you it starts with us, as coaches, and I've got to continue to take a close look at that and make sure we're putting the right guys in the right positions.''
Philadelphia ranks second in the NFL with 385.2 yards per game, but will be up against a Carolina defense that's third-best in the NFC with an average of 295.3 yards allowed. The Panthers have given up only 27 points in their last three contests.
Sunday's defeat dropped Carolina out of first place in the NFC South, behind New Orleans. Still, the Panthers would earn a wild-card berth if the season ended today.
``We have to take care of the Philadelphia Eagles and get to 7-5 and see what else happens in our conference and our division. Hopefully, everything will fall in our favor,'' said receiver Keyshawn Johnson, who caught six passes for just 38 yards against the Redskins.
``There's no looking back at last week. It's over. It's done with. That's how you have to look at it. If you continue to hang onto things you have no control over, it will drive you crazy.''
Along with Johnson, Fox is also trying to keep his team from panicking.
``We're all 6-5. The coaches, the head coach, the players. That's where we are,'' Fox said. ``The sky is not falling either. It was said we could get a bye and all of a sudden we became the worst team on the planet. We are what we are. We've got five games left and a very important one this week against Philadelphia.''
The Eagles have won three of the teams' four regular season meetings, including the most recent in 2004, a 30-8 victory. Carolina, however, defeated Philadelphia 14-3 in the NFC championship game on Jan. 18, 2004 in their only postseason matchup.
By: Michael Cash - theSpread.com - Email Us
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