RIGHT now the Eagles need to determine if we’re playing for 2016 or playing for the future, because as of last week, those two things became mutually exclusive. Since our team can’t even beat a 3-7-1 team on the road, chasing 9-7 and a possible wild card playoff spot, only matters if we’re okay with a one and done appearance.
So it needs to be decided now what the goal is, because your goal affects not only your strategy, but also how you handle obstacles.
Whatever the Eagles (as an organization) true goal is, there are several reasons why the Eagles may want to win this game:
1) We have not been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention yet.
2) You don’t want young players to start their careers feeling like a division rival “has our number”.
3) Since the ‘skins need this game, some of our players would need to step up and take this game to win it. Great evaluation tool to judge next years roster.
You don’t build a winning mindset by dialing down effort, while there is still something to compete for. Admittedly, we’re basically a cooked team this year, but if we’re going to compete, then we need to really compete. Until we’re mathematically out, we’ll assume that winning these games is still a goal.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to look for, Week 14 versus the Redskins:
1) We need a plan for covering TE Jordan Reed. I’m not sure that we have a LB with the skillset to go step for step with Reed. Having to keep Safeties back deep to help with WR DeSean Jackson, means that bracketing Jordan with OLB Nigel Bradham and SS Malcolm Jenkins is out of the question. Alternating coverage concepts underneath will help get the job done, but only if we get enough heat on QB Kirk Cousins to keep him from making reads in time. NOTE: I just copy and pasted this from the Week 6 article. Due to a concussion, Reed didn’t play that week, so we didn’t need this then. We will this week. (Unless he brushes his hair too hard. LOL)
2) Score an Offensive Touchdown early. This may seem like sarcasm, but it really isn’t. We lost the last game 20-27 without benefit of an Offensive score. Given that our head Coach recently questioned the effort of some of his players, the last thing this team needs is to have players mentally checking out of this game because they feel like the ‘skins have our number.
3) Work the edges. (This was also taken from Week 6.) Like we did with the Steelers who also run a 3-4 defense, we need to force the ‘skins OLB’s into coverage. Their two best pass rushers (Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy) are OLB’s who don’t excel at playing in reverse. Against the Steelers we needed to pull the OLB’s out. That favored using RB’s. For the ‘skins we need to push the OLB’s back. That means short passes along the hash marks to WR Jordan Matthews and TE Zach Ertz. We didn’t do this last time, and it resulted in not being able to run and QB Carson Wentz almost being murdered.
4) Blitz relentlessly. Last time we met, we didn’t sack their QB once, and yet that game still ranks as his lowest completion percentage (52.9) of the season. We need to continue to harass him and make him feel as unsafe as possible. But instead of just bringing the heat, we need to also bring the pain this time.
Look, win or lose, this is a message game. Doug Pederson needs to show that while he may have had a rocky rookie year, he has understood the lessons and made some adjustments accordingly. What better way to show that, than by beating a foe that we already lost to? Like the Tampa Bay game in the preseason, this is an opportunity for our roster to see the plan and re-invest. Over the next few weeks we’ll be playing games that have more to do with the coming years, than they do with this year. Eyes on the prize Eagles fans. Eyes on the prize.