NICK Foles! He of seven touchdowns, the Snow Bowl and Super Bowl LII. Three of the greatest moments in Eagles history.
Thank you for the way you stepped up, and did what few of us (I was on-board, early), thought you could do. As I said before the Atlanta game in January, we could have scarcely been in better hands. More than that, thank you for the grace with which you are stepping out of the spotlight, as QB Carson Wentz makes his return.
Let’s get this out of the way right now. We’re glad that Wentz can come back, but we’re going to spend the game obsessing over his knee. Anytime any Colt brushes him, we’re going to be on our feet, ready to punch a guy in the helmet. Any Offensive Lineman who gets pushed back into Wentz, or who steps on his foot, might find that his car has been ticketed, towed, impounded and crushed. Carson has to make it out of this game no worse than he went in. Oh yeah, and a win would also be nice.
Like Week 3 against the giants last year, our season could very well pivot on the character we show here. And I’m pretty sure the coaching staff sees it exactly that way.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the: Colts
1) Protect the QB: That doesn’t mean keep him from getting hit, it means keep him from getting rattled. He’s had no preseason and hasn’t seen live-action in most of a year. He will be rusty, and the game will get away from him in moments. Wentz likes to air the ball out, so putting brakes on him might only make him feel that total confidence in him hasn’t returned. Let him play. Let him fall. Let him figure it out when he screws up. The best way to get a man’s best, is to treat a man, like a man.
2) Mix up coverages: The Secondary plays Single-high almost exclusively and that’s making it too easy for opposing QB’s to read and anticipate deep routes. Also, giving up 5 yard cushions on every play has got to stop. Same with TE’s getting clean releases. This shit has to stop! Sprinkle in some Cover Two. Play some bump-and-run, here and there. Redirect TE’s and slots further into traffic. Quit being stupid out there. It’s robbing us of sacks and easy turnovers, and last week it cost us an entire game.
3) Introduce a new wrinkle: Lost in all the talk about returning QB’s is the fact that Indy’s head coach was our Offensive Coordinator last year. That means he’ll be familiar with our core concepts, most of our playbook, play keys, players, and even the way some of our players and coaches think. He will spend this week prepping his team to beat us mentally. That means we have to add something to the mix that he hasn’t seen from us. RPO’s and our Screen game? They’ll be looking for those. A HB Option would be nice. Perhaps a couple of Power Sweeps?
4) Come out in Rally mode: With Wentz returning, and WR Jordan Matthews
coming back, it seems like new life has been breathed into a sleeping gi- (noooo, I need another word here!) a sleeping Hulk (how’s that?). However, we can’t forget that the QB has to prove himself again, the WR’s are still banged up, the Secondary is leaky, and the O-Line has shown some wear already. Everyone needs to come out playing for each other this week. Everyone needs to be receptive to constructive criticism, and everyone needs to be honest and tactful about giving it.
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:
Remember the touchdown that we gave up to the Vikings in the playoffs last year, when LB Najee Goode didn’t know his assignment? Guess who’s starting for the Colts at OLB? So TE Zach Ertz should have a field day out there. The Colts front seven isn’t particularly stout against the run, nor do they boast a single dangerous pass rusher. This is as good a game for Wentz to return in, as any.
Allowing a QB to complete 70% of his passes is a great recipe for losing a game. Despite the Eagles defending their over-reliance on Single-high coverage, Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz is too smart to not switch it up this week. If this were on the road, I’d pick the Colts, but it’s in Philly. Between the rush, the crowd and mixing the coverage, this has the feel of a 2 or 3 turnover game.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 21 – Colts 17