THE Eagles stride into Week Three with a 2-0 record, after beating two underwhelming teams. Beating this weeks opponent however, would get everyone’s attention. Pittsburgh is seen as one of the league’s upper echelon teams. If they lose to the Eagles, it will either mean that Pittsburgh isn’t as good as advertised, or that the Eagles can no longer be overlooked.
Let’s be clear on something. Using wins over “certain opponents” as validation, can be dangerous. It can cause a team to settle into a mindset of having done enough, even though they would have merely succeed over 1/16 of the season. A win here is one regular season win. It’s not a playoff game.
That being said, certain wins do hold more weight than others. As Lux said to Calico: “It ain’t how many fights you had, it’s who you fought”. Well a win over an opponent like this, can do wonders for the confidence in the locker room. It also can give players something to go back to when tough times come around again. Nothing says “We will get through this tough time” like having already been through tough times.
The Steelers however will not be looking to just give us this win. If we want it, we’re going to have to take it. We’re going to have to battle and subjugate the will of other men. We will need to defeat this opponent, not merely survive them. I for one, wouldn’t want it to go down any other way.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to look for, Week 3 versus the Steelers:
1) Loosen up the Steelers front seven. They’re stingy against the run, but they haven’t been challenged much vs the pass. This is an ideal week for players like RB Darren Sproles or WR Josh Huff to spread the front out by running “Out”, “Hitch”, and “Flag” routes vs their OLB’s. Establishing those routes will loosen the box, and it’ll be their 3 D-linemen and 2 ILB’s vs our 5 O-linemen in the run game.
2) Huddle. Eat up the clock. Pittsburgh relies on running the ball. For that approach you need time. If we eat a lot of time up on scoring drives, they have to rely on riskier ways of moving the ball, in order to even the score. They have to leave their comfort zone, which helps us create turnovers.
3) Intimidate the Steelers coaching staff. We’ve given significant injuries to starting QB’s in both games we’ve played. Don’t kid yourself, the Steelers are aware of this fact. We should offer them a choice of beating us, or having QB Ben Roethlisberger for the rest of the year. If we hit him HARD, early in the game (even taking a flag for a late hit during the first possession), it’ll scare their staff into a max-protect mindset. Get them thinking more about surviving than winning. Take them out of their comfort zone.
4) Work the body. Power running right up the gut. Get our Guards iso’d on their ILB’s. If we can get a gain of 5 yards on 1st down, stand on the gas. Go to a hurry-up, call another inside run, and do it again and again and again until you don’t get a 5 yard gain out of the play.
The idea here is to beat the Steelers in a fist fight. They’re kind of a finesse team now, but due to decades of a singular image, they’re still seen as a hard-nosed, defensive, run-oriented team. So let’s take that from them. Let’s beat their asses in a brawl, and strip them of their identity. All the while we will be sending this message to the other 30 teams in the NFL: Don’t be on our schedule.