YOUR Philadelphia Eagles and the home crowd didn’t merely win the game yesterday. We destroyed, dismantled and broke the will of what was supposed to be one of the NFL’s better teams. By the end of the third quarter you could see that all the Steelers wanted to do, was get on the bus and go home.
On the Steelers sideline, players and coaches were so shell-shocked that they weren’t even angry. Thousand yard stares dotted the sideline, as player after player sought out, and then curled into, his happy place until it was over. It was a thing of beauty.
On our way to the 34 – 3 pummeling that was meted out, we took a team that came into the game averaging 135 rushing yards per game, and limited them to just 29. We hung 34 points on a team that had only allowed 32 in their first two games.
But what about the stuff that the final score doesn’t reveal? That’s the reason for these “Four Things” articles. To have an idea of what needs addressing BEFORE the game, so that we’re forced to honestly answer questions AFTER the game.
So, of the Four Things we were looking for in this last game, what exactly did we see?
1) Loosen up the Steelers front seven. I specifically said use passes to RB Darren Sproles and WR Josh Huff on routes to the outside (Outs, Flags, and Hitches) to get those OLB’s out of the box and into coverage. The Eagles did a less aggressive version of that, throwing Naked Screens and Flat routes to Sproles (6 catches) and Huff (4 catches). The two men came into yesterday’s game with a total of 5 catches. Yesterday they totaled 10. The box was unloaded and later there was room to run inside. DONE
2) Huddle. The idea here was that scoring and taking time off the clock would cause the Steelers to abandon their run game. They’d be forced out of their comfort zone, and put everything on their QB’s shoulders. The result was the Steelers attempted 10 runs all day long, as they fell further and further back. The game was put on the QB’s shoulders and we harassed him all day long. DONE
3) Intimidate the Steelers coaching staff. We got pressure early, but we never actually punked their coaching staff into a max-protect mindset. As a result they didn’t limit their QB’s options and had a numbers of opportunities. Good thing for Eagles fans that Steelers WR Mark Wheaton is apparently paid to drop passes. His 1 catch for 2 yards only looks worse next to his 3 drops. One of which was in the end zone. NOT DONE
4) Work the body. Once we ‘d spread the Steelers out with passes to Sproles and Huff on the edges, in came rookie RB Wendell Smallwood to finish the game with 14 second half carries. Smallwood didn’t wow anybody, but his fresh legs were effective enough to close out the game. DONE
So that gives us a score of 3 out of 4, which goes to show that when you attack an opponent fundamentally, you don’t need to do a billion things to bring them down. Our next match-up is in two weeks vs the hapless Detroit Lions, on the other side of our Bye week.