THIS is the first of two games in a five day span, and we’re already teetering on the knife’s edge of being sub .500. We need this game. The Atlanta loss was a hard one. It was just such a weird game, that it’s hard to take a solid lesson from it. So it’s best to just accept our bright and shiny “L”, move on, and get to making sure we don’t get ourselves another one this weekend.
The Eagles need to establish themselves as a serious contender this year. We’re talented, and deep, but how much of our roster is really hungry? This game isn’t about a rudderless Lions team. It’s about who the Eagles want to be this season. It’s about whether or not we can regain, and keep our focus.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the Lions :
1) Run with power: The Lions are highly susceptible to the run. We need to feed it to them by the fistful. Not with RB Miles Sanders. He didn’t deserve to be jumped ahead of RB Jordan Howard and Karma is seeing fit to make us pay for that. Run the ball with the guy who knows what he’s doing.
2) No Cover Zero: If our CB’s really are the problem, then they need support deep. That’s just coaching. If they don’t need the support then show us something different.
3) Hit Stafford from the blindside: We need to speed up the clock in QB Matt Stafford’s head. We need a sack or two from DE Derek Barnett. DE Vinny Curry can also deliver, but it’s high time we saw some production from Barnett. Especially with Lions LT Taylor Decker either out or nursing a back injury.
4) Unleash the deep ball: With WR’s DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffrey on the shelf, the thought will be that the Eagles don’t have the firepower that we did before. While there is an element of truth to that, the fact is we still have weapons. We should make that point known early, with a deep jump ball to J.J. Arcege-Whiteside, to open up room inside for the power run game.
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:
Sanders will get the start and evenly split carries with Howard. The Eagles are trying very hard to make stars out of their young guys, and we haven’t heard that there’ll be a change in the depth chart. With TE Alex Ellis added to the active roster, the plan is probably to run more 12 Personnel like the staff wanted to do last week. It’ll be interesting to see how that works out, since Ellis isn’t said to be special neither as a receiver nor a blocker.
With TE Dallas Goedert as our 2nd TE, teams might have been more reluctant to load the box, but Goedert is out. With Ellis being sort of a lucky camp body, until he teaches opponents otherwise, he won’t command that same respect.
Defense is a mixed bag. We got three picks last week, lost by just 4, and it still felt like we got gutted all night long. An evolutionary step needs to take place this week, but it’s unlikely to happen. Something has to happen to give the pass rush time to get home.
Keep an eye on the deep Safety in this game. Don’t expect much Cover Zero this week. In any case, even with the injuries, the Eagles depth is hard to ignore. Add in that they play here at home and the Eagles go from a team that could win a close one, to one that could win this handily. Especially if they have any kind of Offensive balance.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 26 – Lions 16