The Eagles hope to keep the momentum going on Sunday, when they’ll face a well-rested Pittsburgh Steelers team given an unexpected week off due to a COVID-19 outbreak that continues to sideline the Tennessee Titans.
Former Eagles general manager Joe Banner told columnist Paul Domowitch that if the NFL has to end up canceling the Week 5 matchup between the Titans and the Buffalo Bills (which has already been postponed until Tuesday), the league should hand down the “biggest penalty we’ve ever seen any team receive for anything.”
Calling his first Eagles game as a NFL analyst is Jonathan Vilma, the former Pro Bowl defender turned broadcaster in his first year in the booth at Fox after spending several seasons doing studio work for ESPN.
Like just about everything else these days, Vilma’s first year in the booth has been disturbed by the coronavirus. Back in the summer, Vilma was forced to do his tryout calling a game on Zoom, and COVID-19 robbed him of an NFL preseason to practice. He’s also called four games this year alongside three play-by-play announcers due to Kenny Albert’s prior commitment calling the NHL playoffs for NBC. Albert returned last week and will be in the booth alongside Vilma on Sunday afternoon.
While most NFL analysts tend to be former offensive players (and mostly quarterbacks), Vilma was a standout defender during his 10 seasons in the league with the New Orleans Saints and New York Jets, and is learning to lean on that knowledge to offer fans a different perspective of the game.
“It allows me to really break down situations and what defenders are thinking at the time,” Vilma said, noting that on big offensive plays where its easy to assume a defensive player made a mistake, “I can offer the thought process of what the coordinator was thinking ... and how defender was trying to play it.”
“I think giving the perspective of the defensive side is a good complement to the offensive side,” Vilma added.
Vilma thought the Eagles' defensive line had a “tremendous game” against the 49ers last week, allowing the linebackers to capitalize on the pressure. This week, he thinks the Birds' secondary matches up well against the Steelers receivers, and said Pittsburgh’s defense plays the run really well, as you’d expect.
“I’ll say that they give up a few big plays here and there in the secondary in the passing game,” Vilma said. “So you you’ll see some opportunities, if the Eagles can capitalize on it.”
Here’s everything you need to know to watch or stream Sunday’s Eagles-Steelers match-up:
In the latest episode of Birds Eye View, McLane, Bowen and Smith provide a position-by-position breakdown of Sunday’s game and reveal their predictions.
Pregame coverage on Fox begins at 10 a.m. with Fox 29 Gameday Live at 10 a.m., featuring Bill Anderson, Garry Cobb, Kristen Rodgers, and Howard Eskin. The network’s national pre-pregame show, Fox NFL Kickoff, will air at 11 a.m., hosted by Charissa Thompson with analysts Tony Gonzalez, Michael Vick, Dave Wannstedt, Peter Schrager, and Colin Cowherd. Fox NFL Sunday follows at noon, hosted by Terry Bradshaw and Curt Menefee alongside analysts Howie Long, Michael Strahan, and Jimmy Johnson.
Over on NBC Sports Philadelphia, Eagles Pregame Live, hosted by Michael Barkann and featuring Seth Joyner, Ray Didinger and Barrett Brooks, will air live at 11 a.m. Eagles Postgame Live will air immediately following the game. Birds Outsiders, which this year will be hosted by Roy Burton and 94.1 WIP host Joe Giglio, airs immediately after the postgame show.
As far as other local network pregame shows go, CBS3 will air CBS3 Sunday Kickoff at 11:30 a.m. (featuring Don Bell and Pat Gallen). NBC10 will air Eagles Gameday Kickoff at 9:30 a.m. (hosted by Danny Pommells), followed by Eagles GamePlan at 10 a.m. (featuring John Clark, Ike Reese, and Mike Quick).