[Philadelphia at Atlanta, tomorrow,
9 p.m., WJLA-7, WMAR-2]
Touchdown catches last season by the Eagles' Terrell Owens
Touchdown catches last season by the other wide receivers presently on the Eagles' roster
Touchdown catches last season by the Falcons' wide receivers presently on their roster The Eagles and Falcons have similarities that go beyond their ornithological iconography. They represented the class of the NFC last year, and they both feature high-profile, dynamic quarterbacks. In addition, they both run variations of the West Coast offense.
Atlanta and Philadelphia, however, hardly could have more divergent strategies on how to move the ball, the former keeping it on the ground while the latter throws early and often. Last year, the Falcons averaged 32.8 rushing attempts per game, fourth in the NFL, while Philadelphia was next to last with 23.5. Likewise, Atlanta was 31st of 32 teams in passing attempts per game, while the Eagles were ninth.
To some degree, personnel has dictated the teams' offensive emphasis. The Falcons' strength is a thunder-and-lightning running back combination of Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett and, in Michael Vick, a quarterback still more effective with his legs than his arm. Philadelphia probably would pound the ball more if bruising back Correll Buckhalter could ever stay healthy.
Like his Eagles counterpart, Donovan McNabb, did before him, Vick yearns to prove he is more than just a running threat. But he should also keep in mind that there's no shame -- and plenty of success -- in directing the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack.