WE’RE about to get our first look at Head Coach Nick Sirianni’s vision for the Eagles. The 2021 edition will be sporting a new look Offense aaand Defense. That means any expectations have to be set entirely to the side, until we have some idea of what the team does and doesn’t do, well.
Being a preseason game, we all know that the wins and losses don’t blah blah blah. But that’s just officially speaking. Even getting a preseason win under his belt, would give Sirianni something to hang his hat on, during meetings and film study.
While in a loss, he could point the finger at certain players; in a win, he can heap reward on certain players. For players trying to win roster spots or starting jobs in August, the carrot is a far better motivator than the stick. There is no carrot without winning this game.
The point of Four Things isn’t to predict a winner, it’s to discuss which tactics will practically guarantee our Eagles this win. CAUTION: I don’t have the faintest clue as to what a point spread is, and I know even less about how it works. I know football and that’s IT. If you use FT as a gambling tool, you are trying to lose your money, and will deserve it when you do.
So let’s talk about the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus Pittsburgh:
1) Simple Communication: It will be interesting to see how often an Eagles QB throws to an area where there is no receiver. Or how often a hand-off is poorly executed. It will be interesting to see who calls the signals on Defense, and how responsive surrounding players are to those calls.
The Eagles have to keep things simple, and make sure they are on the same page. This is the first preseason game. While a win would feel nice and be worth some coaching capital, there is nothing smart about pulling out all the stops for a preseason win. Keep it simple. Communicate clearly.
2) Bring the violence: Pittsburgh isn’t still a “pound the rock and iron defense” type of team, but they carried that rep for so long, that they still sort of benefit from it. We can use that. Bringing the pain on tackles, will put the NFL on notice.
Listen, it’s a lot easier to cover a WR on a Crossing route, if he’s spending half of it looking for a FS. Lapses in his concentration means drops, rounded routes, “Alligator Arms”, and other things. So send the message during this preseason: In 2021, the fastest way through Philadephia’s Defense, is in an ambulance.
3) Have A Ball: Across the NFL over the last 5 seasons (2016 – 2020), there have been 86 defensive safeties. That’s just 17.2 per season, among 32 teams. The rest of the scoring is done via touchdowns and field goals, both of which require physical possession of the football. If the opponent doesn’t have it, they generally can’t score. So go get ball. When we do get ball, keep ball. Move ball. Score ball. None of this is complicated. DO THIS.
4) Shelve the Cute Shit: Every team likes to run trick and gadget plays. Offensive coaches live to show us all how smart they are. Well, save it for after our Offense has the basics down. More than that, let’s show teams that we can win in a straightforward manner. Winning the division would be nice, but HOW we win it, forecasts how far we can go in the postseason.
If we do these Four Things, the Eagle should win in a walk.
As we saw against the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game, Pittsburgh is also trying to figure things out. While QB Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play in that game (so their offense struggled), he also didn’t play in that game (so this is his first taste of a new system). Sauce for the goose.
Still, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin knows his players and how to guide them. Sirianni is entering his first engagement as the leader of an NFL team. If the Eagles talent takes over this game, it could get ugly for Pittsburgh. That said, if it comes down to coaching, expect Tomlin to take our rookie to school. In fact, maybe we should hope that he does.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 13 – Steelers 20
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.