Here we are Bird Gang.
The Philadelphia Eagles need a win and some help from the Chicago Bears, and they will punch their ticket to the postseason tournament. This season has been filled with ups-and-downs. From our QB1, top wide receiver, and starting defensive tackle all out at the beginning of the season, then losing two running backs, and having the entire secondary decimated, most fans wrote the season off as dead. And then, after losing three of four games from Weeks 7 to 11, including an overtime loss to the Cowboys and blowout from Saints, it sincerely felt over.
And yet there was more. With the announcement that Carson Wentz’s stress fracture in his back was getting worse, forcing him out of the Rams game, the season felt somewhat cursed because of our Super Bowl run. But despite the dozens of injuries, a brand new secondary, and a familiar “underdog” face behind center, the Eagles are on the cusp of making the playoffs. They have to take care of the Josh Johnson led Washington Redskins team, and have the Vikings lose to Bears who are fighting for a 1st round bye.
Michael Scott said it best, “K.I.S.S”
If you are not familiar with “The Office”, you first need to reevaluate your life. Second, you need to start watching it immediately. It’s the only reason I have a Netflix subscription. And of course for Peaky Blinders. For those not aware, the acronym K.I.S.S is something Michael Scott told Dwight Schrute that since has stuck with him during his entire paper salesman career. “Keep It Simple Stupid”. Doug Pederson needs to take a page from the Michael Scott playbook and not overthink this game.
The Redskins lost both their starting quarterback and backup to broken legs and trot out “journeyman” Josh Johnson. Don’t get me wrong, Josh Johnson is a gamer and will play at his absolute best this Sunday. That might be taking his skill-set too seriously, but Johnson has tossed a touchdown in every game for the Redskins.
He and ageless wonder, running back Adrian Peterson, will be the focal point for this downtrodden Washington Redskins’ team to close out 2018. Even more drama followed Washington this week as they released safety D.J. Swearinger, who led the team in pass deflections and interceptions. In all honestly, he felt like the heart and soul of that Redskins defense. To put it simply, it’s a circus in Washington.
Back to Dougie “4th down” Pederson. He is going to go for it on a 4th and short in this game. It’s just a known fact at this point. But, even tough the Eagles ended up scoring against the Texans after going for it on 4th inside the redzone, that cannot be the strategy this week. The Eagles out-gained Washington earlier this month with 436 yards to their 235. In fact, if you take away Peterson’s 90-yard rushing touchdown, the Redskins managed just 145 yards of total offense and just FOURTEEN rushing yards. This defense is playing at its former dominant level and should make Josh Johnson’s life a living nightmare.
The Eagles have an enormous advantage in this contest. The defense is head and shoulders above the Redskins offense, and Washington will struggle put up many points. However, the offense needs to take what is given to them. This is a “win or go home” game, and with the mismatch the Eagles possess on defense, points will be at a premium. No going for it on 4th and 3 in field goal range, Dougie. Take those three points every single time because I do not see the Redskins offense putting up any sort of game-threatening numbers on the scoreboard.
Is Foles Better than Wentz?
Short answer: absolutely not. Longer answer: right now, he might be. Everyone witnessed what Carson Wentz did last season. He was in the MVP talks with the Eagles sitting at 11-2 and atop of the NFC. Furthermore, he was putting up absurd numbers for just a second year quarterback, including a 33 to 7 touchdown to interception ratio.
As it stands, Dougie P’s system is a perfect fit for what Nick Foles likes to do and excels at. It’s a quick strike passing attack which emphasizes getting the ball out of your hands fast, taking opportune shots over the top and organically letting the ball find the open receivers. Rather than waiting for his receivers to get space like Wentz, Foles throws his receivers open and the timing between them has been night and day. In fact, nine different receivers caught passes against Houston and ten were targeted.
The ACL rehab and now stress fracture in his back wore down Wentz this year. His competitive spirit almost forced him to get out there and ignore a growing pain that affected his play. He was missing throws, hesitant to launch it deep, and only displayed his magical pocket escapability on a couple of occasions. It could have been adjusting to that nagging back injury and fear that his mechanics were not operating at full capacity. He also missed an entire offseason due to rehab. With a full one under his belt in 2019, watch out for Wentz to return to MVP form next season (place your bets now).
Most Important Players
It would be a cop out to say the Bears are the most important players Sunday. This game is meaningless unless Chicago takes care of business and beats the Vikings. However, scoreboard watching will certainly be a thing. Matt Nagy said he will be smart about playing starters. Meaning if the Rams are blowing out the Cardinals, he may pull his starters after halftime.
Back to the factors the Eagles can control. The Redskins linebackers, Mason Foster and Zach Brown, flat out cannot cover anyone. And now with their best safety off the team, the Eagles running backs and tight ends should feast on this porous coverage unit. What a time for Darren Sproles to come back. He is set to have a humongous game in the passing offense on Sunday.
We saw it a couple times against Houston, but those floaters from Foles to Sproles were things of beauty. Good luck Redskins. There’s not a chance in hell you are stopping Darren Sproles, Zach Ertz, or Dallas Goedert matched up against those linebackers.
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