WHILE many Eagles fans are talking like the season is already over, I will be here until it actually is. For good or ill. Anybody looking for doom and gloom from these articles, will always come away disappointed. Generally my articles are written to cover subjects that the Eagles website won’t touch. Four Things however, is about discussing ways that we can win the upcoming game.
This is Philadelphia. We are the reason the name “Patriot” even has it’s American definition. We don’t quit. We don’t run. So chin up Eagles fans! Shoulders back and eyes front. There is much more rough road ahead us, but there are none better at making it smooth, than we.
Word around the campfire has it that the Patriots were embarrassed at being mushroom stamped on national television last week. Awww. They think, (get this) they think they’re just gonna waltz into the Linc, sign some autographs, and stroll out with our “W”. Problem is, we need that “W” to reclaim our division lead. Which means, we can’t let them have it. Translation: They’re shit out of luck.
Though New England has played almost exclusively bottom-feeders, they still boast a Top Three defense that’s 11th vs the run, and has 32 sacks so far. That means their players will come out playing with pride. With energy! With urgency!! All of which sets them up as the perfect, tailor-made mark, for this week’s caper.
Here are the Four Things we need to focus on this week versus New England:
1) Use play-action bootlegs: We can turn their pass rushing strength into a liability, by having QB Carson Wentz fake a few bootlegs after a handoff, and then sprinkling in some real play-action bootlegs. (Every real bootleg we run, should be drawn-up as an Option play.) What we want, is for an opposing player to cheap shot Carson once, get flagged, and cause the defense to no longer trust their eyes for that first split-second of a play.
If we can cause New England to slow down a tick, in effect it speeds the Eagles up a tick. After which point, we let the pace of the game drown them. No need to do anything fancy. Just fuck them in the brain with some old timey bootleggin’. Right Joe? (That’s a Kennedy joke for us old folk.)
2) Get Brady to moonwalk: QB Tom Brady never had the strongest arm, and today you can clearly see he’s lost something on his fastball. We can make that worse by making it hard for him to step into his throws. That’s were DT Fletcher Cox comes in.
New England’s RG Shaq Mason is coming off of an ankle injury. I’d lay money on his ankle not being up to a full day, of bull-rushing by Cox. Driving Mason backwards, drives Brady backwards, and doesn’t let him get as much on his throws. That increases our chances of getting to one or more of Brady’s passes. Or forcing him to run with the ball.
3) Pry that clam open: To do that, we need to show that the left side of our passing attack has re-opened for business. Nothing crazy. Just a couple of early completions near the numbers. A Slant to WR Jordan Matthews (hopefully lined-up outside), and an Out route to whoever plays the Slot. Perhaps WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside? Maybe? Please?!
Once we staple their CB’s to the outsides, we can attack the Cover One/ Cover Three that NE likes to run. On the surface FS Devin McCourty is a guy to avoid. He has 5 picks in 9 games, but all against weak competition. (Including 1 in each game vs the Jets.)
New England has yet to face a TE anywhere near the talent level of TE’s Zach Ertz or Dallas Goedert. That’s a match-up we need to exploit. Work the play-action, freeze the SS underneath, and get balls 8 and 12 yards in the air to our TE’s down the middle. Isolate our 6’5 250 pound TE’s, one-on-one with their 5’10 195 pound FS, and see if they can break a couple of his tackles during the game.
4) Take care of the ball: This is common sense, but it’s also key to stopping this opponent. They come into Week 11 sporting a plus 17 turnover mark. Then again their dance card has included two games against the Jets, and games against the giants, Miami, Cleveland, Buffalo, Washington and Pittsburgh (when they were spiraling out of control during Week 1).
Given that their offense is neither explosive, nor powerful, we’ll be able to make them work for points. We just need to not give them any extra possessions with good field position.
If we do all these things, we’re just about guaranteed to win. Now that we’ve covered what should happen, let’s get into what likely will happen:
Jordan Matthews wasn’t brought here to be a decoy. How could he? He doesn’t have the resume for that. The reason he’s here, is to give Carson a comfort zone and let him feel confidence in using the the entire field again. That’s it. Nobody has ever doubted Matthews hands, nor his ability to get open, or find the end zone. The entire issue with Matthews has been his back. (Remember all the shots he took to his back, playing in the Slot for Chip Kelly?)
In order to create passes to the left, the Eagles have been moving WR Alshon Jeffery around more than ever. As a result, Carson’s attempts, AND EYES have been following Alshon. However, Carson’s comfort level with Matthews erases all of that immediately.
With the field stretching horizontally again, RB Jordan Howard will see more room inside. Howard has just one 20 yard run this year, but don’t be surprised to see one or two of those this week. While not having upgraded the “talent” around the QB, the QB has been vastly upgraded, because now he’ll be more relaxed.
Defensively is a harder read. Our Secondary hasn’t been good this year (or last year, or the year before that), but NE’s receivers are hardly worth losing sleep over. Given their QB’s diminished arm strength, and the constant harassment he should be under, we might be able to box this one up by the fourth quarter.
Be prepared for some tragic news though. An Eagles win will have people trampling each other, just to get on that bandwagon over there. Meanwhile we Eagles Phaithful will keep sipping our Wawa beverages, because we never stopped believing.
Seriously, when you get past all the “But they’re the Patriots” BS, it’s hard to imagine how they’d be able to win this game. The weapons just aren’t there, and this isn’t the AFC East, against whom they’ve already played 4 times for 4 of their 8 wins. Great QB or not, Tom Brady doesn’t cover receivers, and he damned sure doesn’t catch passes.
PREDICTION: EAGLES 25 – Patriots 17