LAST week the giants (4 -10 at the time) hadn’t yet been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Then we came along. BOOM! We bodied the giants. This week we go to Washington, to face their “not yet mathematically eliminated” football… Can you really call that mess, a team? I mean look…
Currently we hold the 7th seed in the playoffs, but at 8 – 7, we haven’t clinched it yet. That means we have to win to defend, the spot that we’re in. A win by us and a loss by the 7 – 8 Vikings, makes the magic happen before dawn Monday morning.
A win means we climb to 9 – 7. If the Vikings fall to 7 – 9, the only other NFC teams who could also get to 9 wins, are the 7 – 8 Falcons, and the 7 – 8 Saints. Both of whom we hold head-to-head tie-breakers over. So we need to win and we need Minny to lose.
If we lose, it could be catastrophic. Especially if the Vikings win. At that point, we’d a be a game out, and they’d be the 7th seed, by virtue of deep tie-breaking procedure. If that happens, we’d have to win next week and hope, PRAY that Minny loses.
Of course all of this solves itself, if we finish running the table.
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 Redskins:
1) Don’t get cute: Run the ball. That’s who we are. That’s what we do. The NFL’s best hasn’t been able to stop us, and lord knows Washington can’t. We hung 238 rushing yards on them just 2 weeks ago. So keep it simple, and just come out running. Run until they stop us. If they stop us. They won’t stop us. They can’t stop us. Run the ball.
With RB Miles Sanders out, the Eagles need complimentary running now more than ever. We’ll likely start and lean on RB Boston Scott, but our run game is less violent when he or rookie RB Kenneth Gainwell is the tip of the spear, and neither has demonstrated enough break-away speed to offset being smaller and easy to tackle.
No one knows if RB Jordan Howard will be ready to come back from the stinger he suffered last week. If he’s going to play, he has to be ready to live up to his “Bulldozer” nickname. (Look it up.) If he can’t, my guess is that recently signed RB Kerryon Johnson will be elevated from the Practice Squad.
2) Blitz On Long Downs: Washington isn’t going to beat us by relying on dump passes to WR Adam Humphries and TE Ricky Seals-Jones. WR Terry McLaurin on the other hand is a big play guy who can swing, or kill momentum in a game. We have CB’s good enough to make life hard for him. However, it’s a lot easier to take him away as a downfield threat, if there’s no time for him to get deep.
Blitz the QB and get the ball out of his hand ASAP. I want to see more of OLB Genard Avery firing through the “B” gap. That or Avery and DE Josh Sweat leveraging the RT. Sacks here and there would be great, but what we really want, is for the QB to SEE the rush, and consistently treat the ball like a live hand grenade.
3) Knock Taylor on his Heinicke: Last time we played Washington, we played against a short notice fill-in at QB. Sadly, he looked better than he should have. Going against gunslinging QB Taylor Heinicke however, will pose a much stiffer challenge. He knows he’s not Washington’s future, so he plays every game like it’s an audition. He’s inspired to play hero-ball on every down. And that makes him dangerous.
So hit him. A lot.
The thing about auditioning constantly, is that he always needs a product (his body) to be in a condition where he can sell it. Taking extra damage for a team going nowhere? A team that he knows wants to bail on him?? No need for late hit flags, just let him know that his body is in danger. That should calm his heroic vibe, right the fuck down.
4) Mr. Smith goes to Washington: Get WR Devonta Smith 7 to 8 targets. And start early! Intimidation. That’s the point of this one. To create room to run underneath, we need to push DBs’s out of the box. So give Washington the choice of giving up a 30 yard pass, or a 7 yard run.
When they go split-Safety, and the Nickle is deeper than 5 yards, then we can audible to an inside run play. That way if we have to play a bunch of smaller RB’s, we can still gash Washington for chunks of rushing yardage.
(And when we do this, can the RB PLEASE angle toward the DB, instead of the LB? That creates a much higher chance of a broken tackle or a trucked defender.)
If we do these Four Things,
It would be disrespectful to flat out say that we should practice for the playoffs against the Redskins, but we do need to polish up on a few things.
We need to get sharper at throwing Screens. The way we do it now, tends to draw downfield blocking penalties, because QB Jalen Hurts often holds the ball too long. Better acting on pick plays is also needed.
We also need to establish a second outside threat, so that when teams take away Smith in the playoffs, it’s not all GoedertGoedertGoedertGoedertGoedert.
Small things done well, will lead to our Offense being terrifyingly consistent. That said, we don’t have a lot of time to get ready for the playoffs. That is, if we want to make any noise.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 24 – Redskins 16
Check back in a couple of days for Four Things Reviewed, and we’ll discuss how it went.