Under the Microscope ...' WRAPPING UP WEEK 13

After a review of the game tape, here is a look at three key Eagles in Thursday's 48-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals .


Jamaal Jackson The offensive line has taken a lot of criticism for the Eagles' struggles in recent weeks, and the center has not been immune from it. Jackson, in his third full season as the team's center since taking over for an injured Hank Fraley midway through the 2005 season, has not had his best season.

This, however, might have been his best game and was certainly the most consistent and balanced performance of the season for the entire offense.

The first two series of the game pretty much told the story for Jackson and the offensive line. On the Eagles' opening touchdown drive, Jackson did a great job of picking off linebacker Gerald Hayes on a 9-yard run by Westbrook, who was also aided by a strong block from fullback Dan Klecko on the run. Three plays later, Jackson pushed defensive tackle Bryan Robinson from the 6-yard line into the end zone on quarterback Donovan McNabb's shovel pass to Westbrook for the game's first score.

Jackson's ability to maintain his block on Robinson helped create a huge hole for Westbrook on a 16-yard run during the Eagles' second touchdown drive. Westbrook commented after the game how his offensive line, fullback and wide receivers all played a huge part in his 110-yard rushing night, and he wasn't kidding. Two wide receivers also made huge blocks on the 16-yard play. Hank Baskett's crack-back block on Bertrand Berry allowed Westbrook to get outside the left defensive end, while Jason Avant took out safety Antrel Rolle and cornerback Ralph Brown down the field, allowing the play to go for an additional 10 yards.

Jackson stymied Robinson at the line of scrimmage again on the next play, and left guard Todd Herremans got down the field for a key block on linebacker Chike Okeafor, allowing Westbrook to run for 17 more yards to the Arizona 3-yard line.

The Cardinals' only sack of the game came late in the first quarter when Okeafor got past Klecko and McNabb stepped into defensive end Antonio Smith, who had slipped off Jackson's block.

But that was a rare down moment on a night when Jackson and the entire Eagles offense emerged from its slump and dominated the Cardinals.

Brodrick Bunkley The last time we looked at the Eagles' first-round pick from Florida State was a Week 3 game against Pittsburgh, so we decided it was time to take a look at him again. Big mistake and here's why: Bunkley and fellow defensive tackle Mike Patterson were announced as the starters for this game, but they did not spend the majority of time on the playing field.

Going against the pass-happy Cardinals, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson used veteran Darren Howard and second-year man Victor Abiamiri far more at defensive tackle than Bunkley and Patterson. Howard and Abiamiri are both natural defensive ends, but Johnson likes the way they get pressure up the middle with their quickness.

Howard, of course, leads the Eagles with eight sacks, but the defense, for only the second time this season, failed to register a sack against the Cardinals.

"We learned that it's not all about sacks but just having somebody around [the quarterback] or in his face makes any quarterback in this league a different thrower and a little bit less accurate," Eagles coach Andy Reid said.

While Howard is having his finest season since signing as a free agent with the Eagles in 2006, Abiamiri, after barely playing last season and missing the first five games this season with a fractured wrist, is emerging as a pass-rushing threat.

As for Bunkley, he didn't register a tackle for the first time this season, but he does figure to play a lot more the next game with the Eagles going against the New York Giants .

Joselio Hanson This was the first time since Week 4 of the 2006 season that Hanson started a game as an outside cornerback, and he made the most of his opportunity, which came about because of the neck stinger that sidelined Asante Samuel.

Hanson ended the Cardinals' first offensive series with his first career interception, and he had quarterback Kurt Warner and teammate Stewart Bradley to thank for it. Warner's pass was well short of its target and should have been picked off by Bradley. Fortunately for the second-year linebacker, his whiff was scooped up by Hanson and returned to the Arizona 41-yard line, giving the Eagles great field position for their second offensive series.

The Eagles' fourth-year cornerback also played a role in two other turnovers. On the Cardinals' second offensive series, Hanson had tight coverage in the slot on Jerheme Urban, which led to Warner's second interception as the quarterback's pass deflected off his wide receiver's hands and into the waiting arms of safety Quintin Mikell.

One series later, Hanson showed the intelligence that has made him a favorite of his defensive coordinator. Recognizing that Warner had checked down to running back Tim Hightower, Hanson left his coverage on Larry Fitzgerald and joined linebacker Akeem Jordan to stop Hightower for a 3-yard gain.

Hanson's best play of the evening might have been one that drew an unwarranted penalty. With the Eagles' defense facing a third-and-goal situation from the 1-yard line in the second quarter, Hanson jammed Anquan Boldin at the line of scrimmage, then stripped the Cardinals wide receiver in the end zone. Back judge Lee Dyer inexplicably flagged Hanson for holding and instead of settling for a field goal or being forced to go for it on fourth down, the Cardinals got a new set of downs and eventually a touchdown.

With the Eagles in danger of letting the Cardinals get back in the game early in the fourth quarter, Hanson assisted on a turnover that helped seal the Eagles' first win in four games. After a 9-yard catch by Boldin, Hanson made a sure tackle and, as he took him to the ground, safety Brian Dawkins came in and used his helmet to jar the ball loose. Jordan made the fumble recovery, and the Eagles scored five plays later to go up, 41-20.

Hanson is an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the Eagles would be wise to do what they can to keep him.

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.




Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 30, 2008