WHAT does an underdog look like? Are they seldom mentioned? We got that. Lightly regarded? Got that too. Thought of as lightweights, even among bullshit rivals? Check and double check! In fact, here’s what NFL.com said about us just this past Monday:
Gentlemen and ladies! Your 2021 Philadelphia Eagles are OFFICIALLY, an underdog.
Fuck the odds makers! Let’s start head coach Nick Sirianni’s career off, with a win! Our rebuilding Eagles come in with dynamic QB Jalen Hurts, vs a defense that in 2020, was 19th in points allowed and 29th in yards allowed. To improve it, the Falcons scarcely added players, but did add a defensive coordinator who retired in 2018, and again in 2020. Makes me wonder how dialed-in, he’s going to be for this.
A win this week, means we’ll have no ground to make up for, with regard to winning the NFC East. (Yeah I said it!) While it’s too early to focus on winning the division, we need to make sure that we don’t fall behind at the outset.
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 Atlanta Falcons:
1) Melt Matty Ice: In 2019, QB Matt Ryan ran for a career-high 147 yards. So he’s not the most nimble or fleet of foot. Nor does he do a great job of throwing on the run. So the obvious thing to do, is to collapse the pocket directly in front of him, so that he can’t step into throws, and has to move around, and change his throwing platform.
Mentally we’re not going to disguise enough to trick Ryan into making mistakes. He’s too smart, and too experienced for that. What we can do is physically beat on him, mentally harass him, and take him out of the game emotionally, by making him do things he’s uncomfortable doing.
2) Be All-Stars and Play Some Smash Mouth:
This has to be a game where our RB’s see 25 or more hand-offs. We have RT Lane Johnson, RG Brandon Brooks, and C Jason Kelce. When healthy, they are as good as there is in the NFL and thus, on Earth. Oh, and did I mention that they are healthy. So we need to get RB Miles Sanders running behind the best right-side on the planet.
The Falcons run a 3 – 4 scheme that’s more of a 5 – 2. Their d-line is backed up by a pair of vastly undersized ILB’s. They are tiny beyond the line of scrimmage, so we need to give them a steady diet of inside and right-side Zone running.
3) Get Mitts on Pitts: Rookie TE Kyle Pitts shouldn’t be allowed free releases. Jamming him will give our pass rush, that extra second to force Matt Ryan to move, forcing Pitts (and others) to keep cutting routes short to give the QB an easy target. If we jam Pitts enough, we can routinely turn (for example) a 7 yard Flag into a 3 yard Curl. At which point we’ll have disrupted their entire gameplan.
4) Run From 21: Remember a couple years ago when we kept sweeping the Redskins because they chose to play DE Ryan Kerrigan as an OLB, despite the fact that he can’t cover in space? It led to TE Zach Ertz and former Eagle RB Darren Sproles killing them on the edges. Well the Falcons are making the same mistake, playing DE’s like OLB’s.
We still have Ertz, and we also have TE Dallas Goedert, (as well as any RB on our roster). This creates a situation where the Eagles need to abuse the Falcons for short passes to the flat, 5 yard Outs, and such. If Atlanta wants to give away free samples, we need to bring a stolen shopping cart.
If we do these Four Things, we should win this game. In fact, I really like our chances here, despite not having seen our Starters in the preseason. It really comes down to
1) Is our Offense is better than their defense? Yes. It is.
2) Is our Defense better than their offense? Uhhh, possibly.
QB Matt Ryan is an 11 year veteran, who has spent his last 8 seasons with WR Julio Jones (now a Titan). In Ryan’s first 3 seasons, he never reached 4,000 yards passing, or threw more than 26 TD’s. He has to cope with no longer having an outside weapon who warps coverages.
Ryan will be relearning Life without Julio, so we need to (and we can) hammer and harass him, and make him wonder if he really still wants to be doing this. Especially for an owner, who given ten attempts at counting his own balls, would never get the same number twice.
Don’t ask. Just take. We want it all! Socks and draws! This is one that we should win. From the moment we come out out of the tunnel, Atlanta needs to know that, we’re taking all three bags.
If we play our cards right, maybe we can get Atlanta’s DC to retire again next week.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 23 – Falcons 16
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.