Eagles Victory Hinges Upon Play of Rookie Jamar Chaney

Written By Bob Cunningham On Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chaney must show he can handle the mental aspect.

New York Giants wide receiver Steve Smith has torn his ACL and will not play this week when the Eagles head up to the new Meadowlands. Mario Manningham also looks highly questionable for the pivotal NFC East showdown.

That's the good news.

The bad news, however, is that the lack of receivers will force the Giants to run the ball more often at a young defense filled with holes and a rookie in Jamar Chaney making his first start at middle linebacker.

Antonio Dixon and the rest of the defensive tackles have stepped up their game to help make up for the sub-par linebacker play, but it might not be enough against the Giants.

Starting center Shaun O'Hara and backup left tackle Shawn Andrews are practicing this week, so Sean McDermott and the Eagles defense will not face the same decimated unit they faced the first time around.

Not only that, but both Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are running very well -- unlike last time the two teams faced when Jacobs was clearly frustrated with his playing time and not entirely in the game.

If the Eagles hope to sweep the Giants and take a firm hold of the lead in the NFC East, Chaney is going to have to step up and show that he's learned the defense. Physicality isn't a problem as he's shown he's capable of making plays, but if he's caught out of position, a guy like Bradshaw can stick a dagger in a defense by breaking off huge runs at any time.

And all it takes is once. One bad read, one bad call, or even a late read or call could lead to a big play that winds up being the difference.

I'm not a big fan of Stewart Bradley, but at least we don't have to worry about him having the defense out of position because he's familiar with how it's run. Chaney has only been in the scheme since April, so it's likely that he's not as versed in it as he should be in order to start.

My first thought when the announcement was made that he's the starter was curiosity as to whether or not this was an endorsement of Chaney or an indictment of Omar Gaither.

Gaither has run this defense in the past, so it would make sense that if Chaney wasn't ready they would go with Gaither and find a way to make up for his lack of size.

Hopefully that means we can expect the best out of Chaney, but Andy Reid has put his faith in some pretty bad linebackers in the past -- Barry Gardener, for instance, comes to mind.

If he's made the same mistake with Chaney, taking the NFC East from the Giants is going to be something of a daunting task, if it wasn't bad enough already.

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