THERE are a number of things the Eagles need to tighten up in the next two weeks, but it won’t happen. Let’s just get that said, right now. The Eagles are a team that needs real games to get their edge as sharp as it needs to be. We’re close to turning the corner and these young players need real battle, (real victory and defeat), not more practice.
Since starters will play most or all of the first half, the temptation would be to “win” that half. That would be pointless. This is still a preseason game, so for this team, at this point in our development, the game’s best application is as a learning tool. Since the Dolphins will be playing their starters in the first half too, that’s a great time to sprinkle in guys like RB Corey Clement, S Tre Sullivan, TE Billy Brown and particularly LB’s Joe Walker and Don Cherry, (given LB Nigel Bradham’s possible suspension).
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on for this week versus the Dolphins:
1) Impact from WR Alshon Jeffery: Less important than yards and catches, are how he causes the defense to treat his side of the field. I’ll be looking to see where the Safety lines up, and how often he even fakes walking into the box. If Jeffery can “keep his yard clear of trash”, running the ball to that side should be a lot easier.
2) Man up: Our interior Offensive Line needs to show that they can move men off of the line of scrimmage. This has gone beyond the issue of scheme or coaching. At this point you have to question the manhood and professional viability of the starting interior. Must they be the bitch of every man that lines up across from them? Can they win a down? The Eagles need to see if there is at least one real man in that group.
3) Establish the Danger Zone: The Safeties have been very quiet this preseason and that has to change in this game. Sadly, part of our coverage concept includes deep cushions and quick inside releases. If that’s going to be part of the package, something has to “encourage” receivers to take their eye of the ball. The best way to do that is with jarring hits that make men fear for their own well-being. I didn’t say we should injure anyone, but they should certainly be afraid that we may.
4) Back to basics: Football is blocking, tackling and doing your job. This would be a great week to preach fundamentals to the starters, in front of our young depth. This is also a great week to yank a guy for a series or two over a bonehead mistake, if one or more of those happens.
If we do all these things, we’re just about guaranteed to win. Now that we’ve covered what should happen, let’s get into what likely will happen:
The Eagles will put up a decent number of rushing yards against a so-so Dolphin’s run defense, which features a guy who used to be Ndamukong Suh. We will harass and demoralize Jay Cutler and make him question whether or not he really has 2017 in him. We will look like a better team than we actually are just yet. That said, we should handle Dolphins in what should be a fairly boring game.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 24 – Dolphins 9