LAST week, our back-ups and Practice Squaders lost 26 – 51 in the season finale. Our craven opponent, played their starters for most of that game. Their starters! Still, we racked up 26 points, and 315 yards, with of 149 of those yards on the ground (4.5 ypc). Again, we did that with a bunch of guys who won’t even be on the roster this week.
This week we travel to Tampa Bay, to play a Buccaneers team that found a way to lose to Washington, and was swept by New Orleans this season. Having been shutout (0 – 9) in one of those games. Fellow Eagles fans, if “the goat” can lose to teams that don’t even have a QB, then expect us to surprise a lot of people on Sunday.
Let me let you in on a secret: The Bucs are ranked #3 against the run this year. However, they’ve played a number of teams that already don’t run the ball much. So that #3 is an inflated ranking. When they did play teams that run a lot (Washington, New Orleans, Indianapolis, New England), those games became either losses or went down to the wire.
Understand Eagles fans, we have a chance, and it’s not just a slim one. Our chance has three chins and tops doughnuts with insulin. Don’t let the naysayers sway you. They’re just still trying to be right. (They should have listened to me all along.)
Defeating the Buccaneers, will earn us a trip to Green Bay. Losing to them, will mean a quiet plane ride home. It’s as simple as that. GO BIRDS!!!!
The point of Four Things isn’t to predict a winner, it’s to discuss which tactics would give our Eagles the best chance to win this game. So here are the Four Things that we need to focus on this week versus the Buccaneers:
1) Run the ball to our left: That may sound like a no-brainer, but there’s more to it. LT Jordan Mailata (24 years old) and LG Landon Dickerson (23 years old) are on their way up. They are massive, powerful, and physical even in their mental approach to the game.
Across from them are what’s left of DT Ndamokung Suh (34) and DE/OLB Jason Pierre Paul (32). Both are coming off of their worst seasons as a pro. They have posted 27 and 31 tackles, respectively this season. They don’t want the heat that our left side brings.
Pound the ball on these guys. DT Vita Vea is just 26 and at the top of his game. However, at 347 pounds, just get him chasing Screens and Stretch runs early in the game. That will get him sucking wind, and take the explosiveness out of his hips. By the third quarter, we should be able to work Tampa’s right side relentlessly.
2) See Tom Run: Ideally we need to get either DT Fletcher Cox, or DT Javon Hargrave to hit QB Tom Brady early in this game. Not pressure him. Actually knock him on his ass. Take away his trust in climbing the pocket. He cannot be allowed to get comfortable in the pocket.
Once Brady can’t step into his throws, periodically blitz MLB T.J. Edwards to flush him out. Force Brady to make throws on the run, to receivers who are filling in, and aren’t used to catching off-platform passes from him. All we need a couple of mistakes.
Brady has never had the strongest arm, but over the years he’s found ways to compensate for what he’s lost physically, with anticipation, timing, and altering his mechanics to suit what he can still do. If we can get him running frequently, we’ll severely alter those mechanics, wreck his timing, and subvert any other trick that he routinely relies on. All in one fell swoop.
3) Man Press Coverage: Don’t attempt to disguise our coverages too much. Brady won’t be fooled by pre-snap hysterics. What will shake him, is knowing that he’s going to have to hold the ball longer than he’s accustomed to, because his receivers aren’t open early. That will allow our pass rush to close in.
We’re not trying to be subtle here. The Buccaneers offense will be without key pieces (WR’s Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown), and some of their returning pieces (RB’s Leonard Fournette and possibly Ronald Jones) are playing through injuries that sidelined them in Week 18.
The Buccaneers are limping and leaking blood. This game is about us pummeling a weakened opponent, and bullying an old man out of the delusion that there is room for the elderly in this sport. His end is very fucking nigh, and on a national stage, WE, US, THE EAGLES, need to show that to the world.
4) Speed Kills: Use our speed and go deep 6 to 8 times in this game. Tampa’s secondary is LOADED with bums. Even at their best! So when they walk a Safety up to help slow our run game, that will leave them in Cover 1 or Cover 3. Meaning that either WR Quez Watkins or WR Devonta Smith has a one-on-one match-up. That’s when we launch it!
This game should be QB Jalen Hurts’s coming out party. Get him on bootlegs and let him launch a few, leading the receiver into the end zone. And when Tampa goes to a Cover 2 or Cover 4, go back to running it down their geriatric throats.
If the Eagles do these Four Things, then we’ll be virtually impossible to beat. That being said…
The last time we faced this team, we lost by 6 points, in what was the 6th NFL game that Head Coach Nick Sirianni ever coached. In that game, RB Miles Sanders carried the ball 9 times for 56 yards (6.2ypc). Jalen Hurts ran 10 times and threw 26 attempts. It was one of the worst called games in Eagles history, and still we only lost by 6.
There is no need to be subtle here. This is a beating. This is revenge. This is truth being put on display. Brady is 44 and says he wants to play until he’s 50. OH REALLY?! So we need to put his body to the test. For everyone who says we can’t win because we’re facing the goat, they need to be reminded that we’ve feasted on this goat before.
All Four Things Prediction: EAGLES 27 – Buccaneers 23
WARNING: 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 Four Things as a gambling tool, you are trying to lose your money, and will deserve it when you do.
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how this game went.