The Philadelphia Eagles season remains very much alive for another week. Many thanks go to Pat Shurmur for completely abandoning the Giants first half game plan in a season they are definitely not tanking. A lot of credit can be given to the “Practice Squad Cornerbacks” for hanging tough with the New York Giants‘ weapons, out-matching them all game.
But my personal game ball goes to Malcolm Jenkins as he stepped up when the team needed him most.
Jenkins will need a repeat of that performance every week if this team remains as injured as it is in the secondary. And for yet another game, a critical divisional match up is up next when the 6-5 Washington Redskins come to Philly for a Monday Night Football throw down.
Washington’s Front Seven is the Real Deal
This unit is stacked for Washington. Two young Alabama products anchor the middle in Jonathan Allen (5 sacks) and rookie Da’Ron Payne (4 sacks). But one of the most impressive members of that defensive line has been Temple’s very own Matt Ioannidis, who is 2nd to veteran Ryan Kerrigan in sacks with 7.5 (Kerrigan has 8).
Add in linebackers Mason Foster (2nd in the NFL in total tackles with 97) and Zach Brown (2nd on the team in tackles with 69), and you’ve got quite the formidable group. The Eagles running game finally got on track last week but it might prove to be more difficult on Monday night.
I had a smile on my face almost the entire game despite the first half frustrations and standard nerve-racking finish. Josh Adams finally eclipsed 20 carries and produced beyond expectations. It’s clear that I am overly hyped about Adams and his abilities, but I do not see him as the future “bell-cow” running back.
Don’t get me wrong; he should average around 15 carries every game for the rest of this season. However he must improve as a threat in the passing game and in his blitz pickup to become “a complete back”. He will certainly be a valuable member of Dougie P’s backfield committee moving forward. As mentioned, it will be difficult to run against Washington’s front seven, but there are obvious weaknesses that have plagued them all season.
Mason Foster is a liability in the passing game. Whether it be covering a running back, second tight end, or even a fullback, Foster struggles to stay with receivers in open space. Corey Clement spelled Josh Adams on most 3rd down and passing situations because of his ability to provide an impact through the air and in pass protection. Although Clement’s numbers are far from what we expected this year after that Super Bowl performance, he provides serious value in this week’s game. Look out for both Clement (possibly even Darren Sproles…?) and Nelson Agholor to be factors come Monday Night.
The Eagles Offense has No Excuses but to Perform Better
With the addition of playmaker and “YAC god” Golden Tate, most Eagles’ fans assumed the offense would transform back into the dominate force seen last season. We are still waiting as the game plan has shifted to a more balanced attack with the ball not being spread around as much as anticipated.
Zach Ertz is having a career year and is on pace to have a one of the best seasons from a tight end in recent memory. Right now he has career highs in both receptions (84) and receiving yards (895). With five games left he will more than likely to join legends like Jason Witten, Dallas Clark, and Tony Gonzalez as the only three other tight ends with 100+ catches in a season. If he eclipses both the 100+ reception mark and stays on pace for over 1,300 receiving yards, he will be the first tight end in NFL history to do so.
I’ve been adamant about the Eagles spreading the ball around to not only get opposing defenses on their heels but to take advantage of blatant one-on-one mismatches. It’s extremely clear now that outside of Alshon Jeffery and Ertz, none of the Eagles receivers are finding enough space for Carson Wentz throw it their way.
Most of the blame for the lopsided target numbers fall on the shoulders of the other receivers failing to get open. Combine that with Carson Wentz’s lack of trust with those guys to win 50/50 balls downfield and it’s a recipe for stagnation. Rightfully so, Wentz would rather buy time in the pocket with his magician-like disappearance acts and find someone wide open than force a ball to someone in one-on-one coverage.
I’m obviously not saying that Carson should turn into a risk-taking gunslinger that is prone to interceptions, but being non-decisive in the pocket is just as bad. One play really stood out in the Dolphins and Colts game on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill tossed up a 50/50 ball to Leonte Carroo, who had one catch on the season prior to this. Carroo goes up and mosses Colts’ backup cornerback Pierre Desir for the 74-yard score.
The Eagles have Alshon Jeffrey, one of the best 50/50 ball receivers in the NFL, and brought in speedster Golden Tate for a reason. It seems as if Wentz either is not willing to risk deep shots or simply doesn’t trust all of his receivers to come down with the ball in any sort of tight coverage.
Most Important Players
The first section should have foreshadowed what unit is going to be looked upon for their continued best efforts on Monday Night Football. The offensive line needs to keep Washington’s front seven at bay, particularly Ryan Kerrigan.
The most recent surprise on the offensive line has been Isaac Seumalo. You rarely hear his name mentioned throughout the game, which is a great thing for an offensive lineman. I truly had, and still do have, my doubts about Seumalo being the long-term answer at guard, but his recent play has shown noticeable improvement every week. His ability to seal defensive tackles one-on-one allows Jason Kelce to get downfield blocks: a key factor in several big runs last week.
To put this game simply, Washington under Colt McCoy with their slew of injuries on offense simply does not have the firepower to match the Eagles. Defensively, these teams fair pretty equally with the edge in the secondary going to Washington. Therefore, it’s going to be the offense’s job to put up points in what I see as a low scoring, slugfest of a game.
As for my BOLD player prediction, I have a trend of being a tad early of nailing my predictions. Earlier this month I said Josh Adams would have 20+ carries and close to 100-yards rushing. So this week I’m doubling down and saying that Golden Tate is going to have his first touchdown a member of the Eagles in a huge prime-time performance. It’s going to be a rowdy Monday Night Football atmosphere at Lincoln Financial Field and the Birds should feed off the crowd’s energy to a victory.
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