WHILE our Offensive Starters didn’t get in the end zone, our Defensive Starters didn’t allow a trip to the end zone. In fact, our first half play looked very good considering that it was Head Coach Nick Sirianni’s debut, and Pittsburgh wasn’t playing in their first game of the preseason.
Hopefully in this game, we’ll work on a rushing attack that we left largely explored, last week. The play selection was 29 passes to 10 non-QB rushes. That’s 74.3% pass, for those who want an early read on Sirianni’s attack philosophy.
In year’s past, there were four preseason games. Now there are just three. In the past, Starters played the most in Game Three. Now it’ll likely be in Game Two. That means if we’re going to win one of these, this next one is the one that will have the most “meaning”, because it’ll give us the largest glimpse of our best vs an opponent’s best. Like this!
Even though preseason games are meaningless, I want this game. I didn’t care what happened last week, and I won’t care how next week shakes out. But this one? I want this one. I’m putting that out there, right now.
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 the Patriots:
1) Run the ball: QB Jalen Hurts looked solid last week. Not great. Not stellar. Solid. To really unleash him and make him dangerous, the Eagles ground game has to come alive. We need to give the opposing defense an entire offense to worry about. While 60/40 run pass split would be ideal, even a 43/57 split would show that the Eagles brain trust is as least as dialed in as I am.
2) Rotate, rotate, rotate: For fuck’s sake, rotate our goddamned line! Last week Defensive Coordinator Jonathan Gannon essentially gave away the game, by refusing to rotate his obviously gassed, defensive linemen in the second half. The result was that our defense got run over.
If Gannon owns a pair of balls, he’ll be embarrassed by what his coaching put on tape. At the very least, linemen should be subbed out two at a time. For example: Rotate in a DT along with a DE. We have 7 DT’s, and we only start 2. That’s 5 subs. We have 6 healthy DE’s. We only start 2. That’s 4 subs. We have the manpower. Get this done!
3) Sit the Flacco Down: We already know what QB Joe Flacco is. He doesn’t need extensive work to be a #2. Hurts on the other hand needs a half, since he likely won’t play next week. Third string QB Nick Mullen however, needs to show that last week (1 – 5 – 20.0% – 4 – 0 – 2) was an aberration. If he bombs this week, the Eagles are almost guaranteed not to carry three QB’s on the active roster; and they may even look elsewhere for a Practice Squader.
4) Unleash the Blitz: The Eagles refrained from blitzing last week. So much so that the announcer kept bringing it up. That can’t happen this week. Our players need to get a feel for how the gaps develop, how long they last, or if any of them have a “tell”, etc. Those things only come with reps against top-shelf talent.
Guys like OLB Genard Avery and rookie OLB Patrick Johnson, are known for rushing passers. Let’s turn these guys loose.
If we do these Four Things, this game will show the NFL that the Eagles are scary underdogs this year. REALLY scary underdogs.
Mike Tomlin last week, and now Patriots coach Bill Belichik. While Belichik is more than a match for our rookie head man, I feel fortunate that Sirianni is getting this baptism by fire, this early in his career. That said, neither Bill nor Nick, will line up on Thursday night.
Talent for talent, I don’t see that New England is better than we are. In fact, I think we hold decisive advantages along both of our lines. We also have more explosive skill players. Especially given the fact that the Patriots feel that adding CB Jalen Mills to their secondary made them stronger.
If the Eagles do what they should, we win this in a walk.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 20 – Patriots 17
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.