It’s been five weeks since the Eagles beat the Giants on Thursday Night Football. The team felt refreshed and ready to make a run at the playoffs. Flash-forward and the Giants are the team on a two game winning streak. The Eagles on the other hand are grabbing defensive backs off the street due to a slew of injuries and have lost two straight. It’s safe to assume that the season is officially doomed with a loss this Sunday.
Eagles injuries cause several mismatches favoring the Giants
The Eagles will trot out their 3rd string cornerbacks with Sidney Jones listed as “week-to-week” with his hamstring injury. Not only that but Rasul Douglas and Avonte Maddox are officially OUT as they both nursing injuries sustained in New Orleans. Guys like Chandon Sullivan, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and De’Vante Bausby will have their work cut out for them as another deadly set of wide receivers are up next.
It’s not only the obvious mismatch in the passing game, but Jordan Hicks will likely miss this matchup with a calf injury. That means that Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry will have vital roles in the run game and defending the always-dangerous Saquon Barkley.
Factor in these mismatches with the Eagles awful trend of missed tackles and the Birds are looking at an uphill battle. We all know that Odell Beckham can take any play to the house simply with his speed. But if the Eagles aren’t diligent with tackling in the open field, OBJ will have a field day this Sunday. I sound like a broken record at this point having listed open field tackling as a must for the Eagles every week. And it has yet to come to fruition.
Watch out for Saquon
The real game-breaker in this one is going to Saquon Barkley. He’s only five catches behind Beckham for most on the team and has reached 100 scrimmage yards in all but one game this season, where he reached 94 total yards. Saquon is fresh off a three touchdown and 142 rushing yard performance. Earlier this season, Barkley went off for 130 rushing yards along with nine catches for 99 yards against the Eagles.
The return of Timmy Jernigan is going to greatly improve the Eagles run defense. As long as he doesn’t have any complications with his back, offenses are going to have a difficult decision every week he’s in the lineup. Opposing teams have to double-team someone on that defensive line, leaving a one-on-one matchup for Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Michael Bennett, or Jernigan.
While Saquon might not dominate on the ground like he did in Week 6, those little dump off passes to him when Eli Manning is under duress could turn into back-breaking plays. Saquon’s ability to make the first man miss is astounding. The combination of the Eagles backup linebackers and cornerbacks against Barkley’s generational talent pose a huge cause for concern about him taking this game over. Look for the Eagles defensive leaders to make big plays when the team needs them the most.
Most Important Players
I have been on the Josh Adams hype train since it took off from the station after he was signed post Draft. I mentioned in last week’s article that the loss of Frank Reich and Joe DeFilippo has been impactful on the offense’s overall efficiency. Countless times, Josh Adams would pop off solid gains to get the offense rolling. Then after one run of no gain or negative yardage, Dougie P calls some sort of bubble screen or underneath routes, leaving them in and a 3rd and medium to long situation.
The Eagles have gotten away from their balanced attack that made them so electric every week last season. Remember when Carson Wentz was spreading the ball around to different guys like Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith? That seems like ages ago. It could be the receivers not getting open downfield, poor play calling, Wentz not making the correct reads, or any number of factors. But the Eagles offense have become somewhat predictable and it’s now noticeable more than ever.
I’m not saying that Josh Adams is the answer to the Eagles offensive woes. But the Birds need to get back to the motion filled, misdirection based offense that you see with the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Rams now. So far this season, the Eagles passing attempts to rushing attempts has been 385 to 236.
You might want to blame this out of balanced ratio on the Eagles being down in most games. But several losses have come when the Eagles held the lead well into the 2nd half, and squandered it. Comparing that ratio to the Bears, Chicago has 321 passing attempts to 292 rushing attempts. The Rams have thrown it 383 times and have 316 rushing attempts, a much more of a balanced attack.
On top of Josh Adams getting more a bell-cow workload, rookie Dallas Goedert needs to become more involved in this offense. The Eagles traded up for the South Dakota State tight end and is essentially their “first-round pick”. While the tight end position is known for being one of the most difficult to translate into the NFL, Goedert has looked good when targeted. He only has 22 on the season compared to Zach Ertz’s team-leading 104 targets.
Ertz has been the man this season and is well on his way to breaking the Eagles franchise record for single season receptions. However, I want to see Goedert get more looks in 12 personnel sets as it would add another dimension to their offense. It’s been overly compared, but the Patriots combination of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski was almost unstoppable during their prime years.
For my BOLD player prediction, I think that Goedert has his coming out party in the NFL with close to 100 yards receiving and TWO touchdowns.
Gambling this season? Want to try it just to see what it feels like? Go to MyBookie.ag and use promo code ARMCHAIR25 at checkout. They will match your deposit dollar for dollar. Putting in $100? You’ll now have $200.