LAST week RB Miles Sanders led us in rushing. In 2021 we’re 2 – 0 when he does, 0 – 3 when he doesn’t. So let’s keep that going. This week we have an aging, pocket based QB, going against DT Fletcher Cox and DT Javon Hargarve. SOMEONE MAKE SURE BRADY SIGNS THE WAIVER!!!
This game is not as winnable as I told you that Kansas City or Carolina was. However, there IS a path. While it’s not a wide path, it’s also not narrow. We just have to be serious about our fundamentals. Tampa is talented, but they have deep weaknesses that can be exploited, without much trouble.
A win jumps us up to 3 – 3, which would do nothing for our position in the division. At least not this week. Bigger picture, it would show the NFC, that they have to re-evaluate their opinions of this team. (And maybe division.) It would also indicate an amount of growth that would feed Eagles player confidence.
A loss would drop us to 2 – 4, and out of any serious discussion of winning the East. If that happens, it would take a great deal of success and some luck, to get back into that discussion.
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 Tampa Bay:
1) Run the damned ball: Tampa plays the run pretty well, so don’t expect a ton of yardage. This however, is a game where the rushing attempts mean more than the yards. It will require play-action to beat Tampa Bay, and if we don’t run, we can’t sell play-action.
Last week our lack of commitment to the run meant that Carolina ignored our play-action, and teed off on our passer. This is a better and more physical defensive front. Unless the mission is to get Jalen hurt, we have to make this defense pump it’s brakes. If we can do that, then we can buy time for our QB, and keep him healthy.
2) Shut down Brady: Sounds like a tall order, until you realize that it’s already been done plenty. How do we do it? First we have to understand the animal. QB Tom Brady likes his 6 yard, 3 step drop. Snap! 1-2-plant. Fire! Snap! 1-2-plant. Fire! That’s his cadence. Varying it takes him miles out of his comfort zone.
So the idea here, is to get him uncomfortable. Don’t let him plant his foot. Keep him backing up. Get him (a right-handed QB) moving left. He had to ice his throwing hand on Sunday. We play on Thursday. He’s 44. Make him feel every HOUR of his age.
So how do we do that? See this rush scheme.
That’s what the basic scheme for the day should look like. Sure we’ll vary it, but this is what the day should be built on. We do what we did with QB Matt Ryan in Atlanta. Converge both DT’s on the C, and forklift him back into the QB. That gives the QB nowhere, and no time to step up.
If Brady leaves the pocket going left, then it’s a foot-race between him and (#49) LB Alex Singleton. Going right, it’s (#50) LB Eric Wilson. Brady won’t take many sacks, but he will quickly throw the ball away to avoid them. Which is exactly the plan! Incompletions are wasted downs. We’ll take it.
One last thing. This rush scheme would also contain the run, and allows alleys for the LB’s to blitz or run blitz. So yeah, I designed it well.
3) Bombs Away: Tampa Bay just signed FA CB Richard Sherman, because they are depleted in the secondary. This is a flashing weakness, and we need to attack it. Relentlessly.
This is where running the ball matters so much. Once we can use play-action effectively, QB Jalen Hurts can get outside of the pocket, and our receivers have time to uncover deep. Against a depleted Tampa secondary, we have the makings of a massacre. A prime-time, nationally televised, massacre.
4) Stick with Man Coverage: No one expects 3 picks this week. However, if we can get Brady throwing from uncomfortable launch points, we’re more likely to get a donation from him, in Man. If we go to Zone, he’ll know from film study, where to throw the ball safely. Don’t give him that.
Limit his options. Force him to either throw into contested spaces, or throw the ball away early. We want the ball out of his hands early in the game. Then we want him pressing to make plays later in the game.
If we do these Four Things, we will shock the NFL.
Neutering Tampa Bay’s passing attack, essentially shuts their offense down. The NFL is an offensive league. Which makes it hard to win games, when an offense is watching, not playing.
Old boxing adage: If you work the (opponent’s) body, it will open up the head. Running the ball is working the body. It brings down a Safety deeper into the box. It takes an opponent out of (pass rush) attack mode, and puts them solidly on the defensive (trying to plug holes). When that happens, we can go full blown aerial assault.
We have the players to pull this off. We can do this! We simply need the will to attempt it. Unfortunately, I don’t think our coaching staff is here yet.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 24 – Buccaneers 31
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.