Westbrook's Take: Let Asomugha do his job
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The Eagles had done what so many teams had failed to do — contain Calvin Johnson.
The problem? They did so for only three quarters.
Johnson, arguably the NFL’s most-feared wide receiver, was held in check through the first three stanzas on Sunday. Led by Nnamdi Asomugha, the Eagles surrendered one measly catch for 28 yards to the 6-foot-5, 236-pound Detroit wideout through three quarters.
Johnson was a non-factor for the first third of the contest but awoke when it mattered most. Brian Westbrook gave his explanation why on Monday’s edition of Comcast SportsNet's "Eagles Extra."
“He’s the best receiver in the game for a reason, and they were doing good just like Brian [Baldinger] illustrated,” Westbrook said. “They were doing good in the first half, the first three quarters, really — the fourth quarter is where he took off. And at this point, Juan Castillo has to know, if it’s working, continue to do it.”
What was working was Asomugha's press coverage and safety help over the top. Prior to his arrival, Asomugha was regarded as one of the game's shutdown corners, and he earned top dollar to do just that. While his coverage has not always been at that level since putting on midnight green, Asomugha gave the Eagles what they paid for on Sunday by quieting Johnson. He even recorded his first interception of the season on a deep pass intended for Johnson in the second quarter.
However, a switch in strategy may have sparked Detroit’s late rally and Johnson’s outburst in the fourth.
“We blitzed a lot more at the end,” Asomugha said. “Maybe they were able to take advantage of that. If they can recognize the blitz and we’re in 1-on-1 coverage, they’ll go after the person they think gives them the best matchup, so they were able to do that,” (see story)
Before the fourth, the Eagles did what they had to do against Johnson, and Westbrook believes they strayed away from it.
After the fourth quarter, Johnson's quiet start became a distant
memory. He hauled in five passes for 107 yards in the final 17 minutes and played a massive role in the Lions’ come-from-behind win over the
Eagles in OT, a game in which the Birds led by 10 points with 5:18
left to play.
“On defense, you have an opportunity to really take advantage of this team,” Westbrook said. “You’re not getting pressured, Nnamdi’s doing a good job. Continue to have Nnamdi check Calvin Johnson, the guy.”
The Eagles didn’t, and Johnson made them pay.E-mail Jordan Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.