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Eagles Vs Colts Matchups: Dimitri Patterson vs. Peyton Manning

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Dimitri Patterson will start at cornerback for the Eagles in place of Ellis Hobbs against Peyton Manning and the Colts, which seems like a daunting task. Patterson doesn't have Hobbs' experience, but he just might be a better fit when going against the Colts.

Last time out we watched Ellis Hobbs get shredded by Kenny Britt and Kerry Collins.  There was speculation that Hobbs might have been hurt by the way he was moving around.  That speculation turned out to be true.  Hobbs suffered a hip injury in the game.  The hip still isn't healed and he will now miss the showdown with the Colts on Sunday.  That makes Dimitri Patterson your starting right cornerback. 

Let's talk about Patterson getting the start.  Normally you get real nervous about a backup cornerback having to replace a starter.  We might actually benefit from the situation.  Peyton Manning is a guy that does his homework.  He knows his opponents inside out.  Manning is able to find tendencies and then exploit weaknesses because of that.  With Patterson he won't have much tape to study.  There just isn't a whole lot to know. 

Hobbs is a more talented player, but the drop-off isn't so significant that it should cause major issues.  The big difference will be experience.  Hobbs has several years while Patterson doesn't even have several starts.  Patterson has practiced with the starters all week and that will help.  I'd be more worried if this was a last second adjustment.   The gameplan was built with the knowledge that Patterson would be the starter.  He's had time to study the Colts and get comfortable with his role.  We get lucky that free safety Nate Allen generally plays on Patterson's side of the field.  Reggie Wayne is the receiver that Patterson will see the most and clearly he's someone that you would want safety help against no matter who the corner is.  We don't have to change up anything in that regard. 

Hobbs is a "nosy" corner, meaning that he likes to jump short routes when he can.  That can be risky against a quarterback like Manning.  He's smart enough to know that and take advantage.  Patterson isn't going to be as aggressive.  That would hurt us if Hobbs was a ballhawk.  He's got four pass break-ups and one interception this year.  Patterson in significantly less playing time has a pair of pass break-ups and one interception.  You can see those numbers aren't that far off.  Patterson can make a play if he gets the chance.  He's got the quickness to get a good break on the ball. 

The Colts run a lot of wide receiver screens.  Patterson should handle those okay.  He's a good tackler.  He can be a physical defender.  Patterson has "made his bones" in the NFL by being a standout performer on special teams.  He's one of the better gunners in the league.  Patterson is used to fighting through blockers to get to the ball.  The Colts do a great job on their wide receiver screens.  Offensive linemen get out wide quickly to block and the other receivers also do a real good job of getting involved.  There will be a lot of pressure on the defensive backs to be in the right position and to get through blockers and to the ball.  Patterson is a guy you want on the field in that situation. 

The Eagles have had several guys step up this year when called upon to replace a starter.  King Dunlap for Jason PetersAntonio Dixon for Brodrick BunkleyOwen Schmitt for Leonard WeaverMike McGlynn for Jamaal Jackson.  Now Patterson gets his chance to shine.  You can bet that Manning and Wayne will test him a few times on Sunday.  

Odds and Ends

* The Eagles attempted to make an interesting move this week.  They put in a waiver claim on linebacker Thad Gibson, recently cut by the Steelers.  I liked Gibson (6'2, 240) coming out of Ohio State.   He played defensive end in college, but projected to linebacker in the NFL.  I thought he was ideal for the 3-4 defense because of his potential as a pass rusher.  Gibson was a pretty good pass rusher for the Buckeyes, notching 10 career sacks.  He was also athletic enough to show potential as a complete linebacker.  He looked comfortable playing in space and had some coverage ability.  The Eagles had interest in him as someone who could play SAM, as well as being a situational pass rusher and possibly the Joker. 

Moise Fokou is playing well at SAM right now.  He's been a terrific addition to the starting lineup.  There is no real good backup.  Akeem Jordan had a great summer, but didn't play well in the regular season.  He seems better suited to the weak side.  Gibson would have given us a young linebacker to develop for the future.  The aspect of the move that would have interested me the most is what player would have been released.  I wonder if we were going to let Omar Gaither go.  He struggled mightily when replacing Stewart Bradley earlier in the season.  He also hasn't been a consistent impact player on special teams.  Compare that to Jordan.  He lost his starting role on defense, but then became a standout on special teams.  That's what you want out of a backup linebacker. 

* Jerome Harrison has been on the team for a few weeks.  He hasn't had a chance to get involved in the offense because he was learning the playbook.  I'll be interested to see if he gets some touches against the Colts.  The Eagles liked Harrison enough to trade for him.  Now we need to see what he can do in the Eagles offense. 

I'm still hoping Joique Bell makes it on the field this year as a running back.  The Eagles need a runner with some size for the future.  Is Bell that guy or is running back a need in the 2011 draft?  I hope they find a way to get him some touches so we can see what Bell can do in the regular season.  He did have a terrific preseason for Buffalo.  I certainly don't expect Bell to play much even if he does get involved.  It would be nice to see him just get a couple of carries here and there. 

* We've all heard the old line "Be careful what you ask for.  You just might get it."  When the Eagles talked to Donovan McNabb about possible trade destinations he asked for Washington.  Oops.  That situation has gone from strange to flat out unbelievable.  I look forward to McNabb being one and done in Washington.  I hate seeing him in that uniform and will be happy to watch him elsewhere in 2011.  Now the question turns to what veteran quarterback will ever want to play for Mike Shanahan?  Can you really trust him at this point?  McNabb certainly isn't blameless in the situation, but the Swiss Family Shanahan comes off really bad. 

* I'll conclude by letting you in on a moral dilemma that I'm facing.  I hate the Dallas Cowboys.  I assume most of you join me in that sentiment.  This season has been a buffet of pleasure for Cowboys haters.  That team seems to invent new ways to lose.  I do have one concern.  Things have gotten so bad that Jerry Jones just might fire his puppet, I mean coach, Wade Phillips.  That would be disastrous to future Cowboys opponents.  A good coach might just turn that team around next year.  Is it okay for Eagles fans to cheer for Wade to win a few games so that Jerry will talk himself into keeping his little buddy around for another season?  I feel dirty for even posing the question, but I'm also horrified at the notion that Jerry Jones might actually give up some of his power and hire a good coach to run the Cowboys organization if things are disastrously bad.  There is a huge difference in 3-13 and say 7-9.  The perfect outcome would be an Eagles sweep of the Cowboys and somehow Wade Phillips getting one final season to prove that he's the next Jimmy Johnson.