I know my NFC East rivals better than most of their fans do. (Not all, but certainly most.) However, I’m less familiar with the AFC East. So, in order to be able to know what to attack, I naturally went looking the Dolphins up. Stats, schedules, o-line first steps, defensive fronts, etc.
OH MY GOD! This team is awful! I don’t know how their head coach is surviving from week to week. I don’t mean from being fired. I mean from fans murdering him in the street! If Head Coach Doug Pederson did to the Eagles what Brian Flores is doing with the Dolphins, we’d need a prison cell that could hold 2 million people.
(Maybe we could put it in the Linc’s basement?)
This is the most important game of the year. If we win, next week will be the most important game of the year. We need these five games, but for the following week to matter, we need to take care of business in the week where we are. That said, don’t let people overstate the stakes of this game.
Understand, you’re going to hear the term “playoffs mode” get over used and over, from now until January. Don’t fall for it. Playoffs is win or go home. This isn’t that. This is win FIVE and we own the East. Guaranteed. Iron-clad. Period.
And even a stumble might not kill us, if the Cowboys drop another game. (Or two.) So don’t give yourself an ulcer. We aren’t in playoffs mode yet.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus the Dolphins:
1) Show up and show out: This is the most important key. It’s almost worth three of these Four Things. The Defense has played lights out the last few weeks against top opposition. They’ve been carrying the Offense almost as well as the Offense carried the Defense, earlier this year. What we need is for each man to pull his own weight, and not need carrying by anyone else.
Professional blockers need to block like professionals. The professional thrower needs to throw like a professional. Pro catchers…Catch the fucking BALL, will ya? Football is blocking, tackling, and doing your job. The Eagles players TO A MAN, need to show up and do their jobs.
2) Shut down the pass: The Dolphins leading rusher averages 1.9 yards per carry. Read that again. So they probably won’t lean on the run. Just a hunch.
At QB they have Ryan “FitzMagic” Fitzpatrick. While he likes to share the football with opponents, he also likes to air it out, and has a knack for stringing together big plays when he gets hot.
Fortunately for us, the Dolphins like to share their QB with opponents. Of course in order to get to him, we have to make sure we keep WR DeVante Parker covered for at least a few seconds. Parker has been heating up recently, so covering him may prove to be more interesting than we’d like it to be, or than the past indicates that it should be.
3) Show ‘em something new: Seahawk LB KJ Wright said of the Eagles offense that they knew the Eagles plays before the ball was snapped. Surely the Dolphins have access to game film, same as any other NFL team. They could study it just like anyone else. No sense in tipping our hand to a bad team, right? So mix in some new plays, this week. Or better still, mix in just a couple of new plays that look and key, like old ones.
4) 1-2-3 THROW!: QB Carson Wentz needs to stop holding the ball for so long. It’s doing us TWO disservices. One which everyone talks about endlessly, and a second that never gets mentioned, but hurts us worse each week.
The first thing is, that it creates sacks and sack/fumbles for opponents. While we all know that it comes from Carson wanting to create big plays, it’s clear that we don’t have the firepower for him to try to force the issue so often.
The second thing is, when he holds the ball, it builds in our receivers heads that they can take 5 or 6 seconds to get open. Carson needs them to win early, and in order to communicate that, a couple of passes have to hit them before they’re ready. Carson has to put it on tape that the ball is on time, the receiver is just late. Lots of bad tape can hurt a guy come contract time. So I’m sure the receivers will figure it out.
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 are going to play with their food. This is an opponent we should overwhelm easily, but the Eagles have clear issues with offensive confidence right now. Leaning on the run early and often, would settle the Eagles down, and likely produce a first drive score, but we won’t do that.
We’re going to be cute and throw more TE Screens, TE outs, and Wheel routes to RB Miles Sanders. WR Alshon Jeffery just being on the field, will allow for TE Zach Ertz to go from a guy who just catches a lot of passes, back to a guy that hurts opponents in critical situations.
Fitzpatrick will either light us up, or throw us a touchdown. He tends to have a couple of really good weeks, before the carriage turns back into a pumpkin, and the horses turn back into rats. For the last three weeks he’s played better than his numbers indicate. So he’s about due for another implosion, with a big play or two sprinkled in there.
Also, since we’ve fallen for it two straight weeks, expect a trick play where a WR throws the ball. Until we stop it, teams will treat us like chumps with this.
For the first half of the game, expect some offensive lethargy. Hell! We may even be down at the half. Don’t sweat it though. The Dolphins defense can’t stop anybody. Once we figure that out, we’ll be able to finish this team off.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 26 – Dolphins 17