Matt Shepard: Quarterback play will decide Lions/Eagles game

By: Matt Shepard
Ford Lions Report Live Reporter

It's obvious the quarterback position is the most important in football.

I would argue it's the most important in sports, so saying Matthew Stafford and Michael Vick will be keys in Sunday's game at Lincoln Financial Field is pretty basic. Stafford will be counted on especially in this meeting because of the Philly defense and the challenge it presents. 

The opposing quarterbacks who have faced that Eagles "D" have a combined rating of 67.1, third in the league.  The Eagles defense allows just under 207 passing yards per game, the fifth lowest total in the conference, and only Houston is allowing quarterbacks to complete a lower percentage than Philadelphia's 53.3%. 

They are ball-hawkers as well, intercepting 44 passes since 2010, fifth-most in the league over that time.

The one area they have struggled is sacking the QB. Through the first quarter of the season, only the Jets, Raiders, and Jaguars have sacked the quarterback less.

It's troubling for Andy Reid because his defense tied for the league lead with 50 a year ago. 

I asked Lions offensive coordinator, Scott Linehan about that this week and he talked about how those numbers are misleading, saying "the Eagles defense affects the passer as much as any we will play."

Thus the importance of Stafford being on his ‘A" game. 

Linehan also noted Philadelphia plays as much "matchup man" as any team on the Lions schedule.  That means the Eagles will match their best corner with the best wide receiver on the field rather than having their corners stay on the left side or right side for an entire game. 

Calvin Johnson told me the Eagles cover that way because their secondary plays with such supreme confidence, but it most likely means there will be more one-on-one situations for Detroit's wide outs and more opportunities for "chunk plays." 

Lions head coach Jim Schwartz told me Thursday that will be important to monitor.

The Eagles have notched 23 plays of 20-yards or more (chunk plays) - fifth most in the league - and Michael Vick is the primary reason for that. 

Schwartz says, "Vick doesn't get enough credit for creating the big play. He is much-maligned for his turnovers (league high 11) but he keeps plays alive to create big-play opportunities."  

The Lions have not been able to boast similar numbers because of the high safety coverage they've consistently faced, but maybe this week changes that. 

Without sounding too simplistic, whichever quarterback this Sunday can help his offense make the BIG play should come out on top.

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