DOMINATION! Monday’s beat-down of the Vikings, can’t be called a win over a bottom feeder, but maybe this next one can. This week we travel to D.C. to face a division rival that’s giving up 157 rushing yards per game, at a pace of 7.5 yards per carry. That 7.5 is NOT a typo. The last thing they needed was a visit from a ground game averaging 189 and 5.2, led by RB Miles Sanders. Damned shamed, ‘cause here we come.
A win should put us alone at the top of the division, because there is no way the giants beat the Cowboys on Monday Night Football. A loss would put us behind the Commanders, regardless of how the giants/Cowboys game works out.
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: Commanders
1) Invert the pocket: Commanders C Chase Roullier is on short term IR with a knee injury. So G Wes Schweitzer will slide to the middle for the time being. Schweitzer has played there twice before, and was injured both times. He’s a back-up, and also kind of smallish at just 300 pounds.
Have DT’s Fletcher Cox and Jordan Davis alternate bull-rushing the “A” gap, with driving Schweitzer backwards into the QB. Don’t allow there to even be a pocket. Bend the middle backwards, and get a structure that should be shaped like a “U” to look more like a “W”. That will drive QB Carson Wentz out of the pocket. (Better to face his legs than his arm.)
2) Go Deep Off Play-action: Washington runs a 4-2-5 scheme on defense. This is emphasizing speed over power or size. We can use that to our advantage. Committing to the wrong read, pulls faster players further from the place they need to be.
Use play-action early, to scare their defense from committing to the run, later on in the game. Another launch to WR Quez Watkins in the Slot, (completed or not), would be exactly the thing to back their defense off.
3) Score in the Fourth: Whether we have a big lead or we’re trailing, we need to put up some points in the last quarter of this game. After two games with no points in the final frame, we need to show that we can finish strong, and not just “hold on” at the end of games.
4) Set the Edges: If the middle of their offensive line is compromised, then they won’t be able to run up the middle, and their QB won’t be able to step up. This means everything is either backing up, or spilling out the sides.
We need DE’s Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat to define the ends of the line, so that our LB’s can fly to the ball carrier. At least while they’re still trying to run the ball. This also allows the Secondary to focus more on coverage than on filling for the run.
If the Eagles do these Four Things, then we’ll be virtually impossible to beat. That being said…
I saw on-line that someone thought of this as a “trap” game. There’s no way the Eagles are looking past or underestimating this Commanders team. Seemed stupid to me, so I waved it off. Then I saw it on-line a few more times. So let me address this.
Trap games tend to follow games that the team had circled on their calendars weeks earlier. What makes the trap game, so dangerous is 1) It’s an opponent that should be easily beatable; 2) The team just can’t get emotionally “UP!” for it.
The Commanders are a division rival. The Eagles will be up for it. This is our first division action, since Dallas’s starters ran roughshod all over our second and third stringers last year. So the Eagles will be up for it. QB Jalen Hurts will be head to head with Carson Wentz. You’d better believe the Eagles will be UP, for this one.
Speaking of quarterbacks, Carson Wentz is a problem. Last week, under duress all day, and sacked 5 times, the man still threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. Local media keeps talking like he gifts four footballs per game. Be nice if he did that this week, but you’d be a fool to put money on it.
If we win this game 74 – 0, it will feel like a loss if Jalen Hurts gets injured. Understand, QB Gardner Minshew is more than just a capable back-up. Like when QB Nick Foles backed up Wentz, we didn’t have a starter and a back-up. What we had, were two starters. So we’re in good hands if Hurts does get hurt.
That said, if Hurts gets hurt, the emotional impact, the blow to the locker room confidence… We don’t need that. So keep him healthy.
Prediction: EAGLES 28 – Commanders 25
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.
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