Anthony McFarland (Getty)
The Eagles love to run the ball inside, so one of the key matchups that will determine the success of Philadelphia's rushing attack on Sunday is the Colts Anthony "Booger" McFarland against RG Shawn Andrews. Greg Talmage breaks it down for you...
Ed Thompson pointed out an interesting fact to me earlier this week. Almost half of Brian Westbrook’s carries have been inside the guards and it's where he's having his greatest success this season.
Why is Westbrook such a successful inside runner? The one offensive lineman in particular that Westbrook and the Eagles love to run behind is right guard Shawn Andrews. He’s an outstanding drive blocker who single-handedly creates holes by his ability to push defenders around all day long.
This week, the Eagles’ best interior run blocker will try to limit the Colts’ best interior run stuffer—Anthony “Booger” McFarland. It should be quite a trench battle between these two massive behemoths, who combined tip the scales at nearly 700 pounds.
Here is another interesting fact for you. The Eagles list Shawn Andrews at 340 pounds. By comparison the Colts’ starting RG -- Jake Scott -- is listed at 290 pounds. So that should tell you that Philadelphia expects their interior linemen to excel in the short area first and foremost.
The Eagles thought enough of Andrews this offseason to offer him a seven-year contract extension through the 2015 season. And they’ve been proven right, because Shawn Andrews is beginning to look like a Pro Bowler.
With his massive frame, bulk, strength and good feet for someone his size, Andrews has all the tools. He has become a dominant run blocker at the point of attack. He does an exceptional job using his power to explode into DTs, comes off the ball hard and drives his feet to finish well. He rarely loses a matchup once he's latched onto his opponent.
Run-blocking is definitely his strength. He doesn't always set his feet properly when pass blocking, which causes him to lose leverage. Andrews will have some troubles blocking speed because he overextends, guesses too often and as a result gets out of position. He also has some trouble adjusting to stunts.
But he’s not by any stretch of the imagination a poor pass-blocker. Because of his strength and bulk, he actually excels against powerful bull rushers. He’s very tough to walk back and can sit down and anchor well.
Andrews’ assignment this week, Anthony “Booger” McFarland is a very effective one-gap lineman. McFarland has a thick, strong lower body and good penetrating ability. He stuffs the run well by getting off the ball low and shooting gaps with explosive power. McFarland creates havoc in the backfield off the snap with his explosiveness and quick first step. He’ll need that quickness to beat the massive Andrews to the point.
He also knows how to keep bigger blockers off his body with active hands and sound placement. This is key in this week’s matchup because if Andrews is able to latch on to McFarland, he won’t lose a battle very often on Sunday. While McFarland isn't equally effective as a two-gap player (because he struggles taking on double-teams), he will likely see plenty of one-on-one opportunities against Andrews, so you should see plenty of activity from the Colts DT in this game.
McFarland’s stamina is not what it once was. Even in his few games with Indianapolis, he seems to have much more success in the first half than the second. He can and will wear down against physical running attacks, so don’t be surprised if Westbrook has more success late in the game, providing that the Eagles aren’t trailing badly and are forced to abandon the run by then.