Eagles vs. Saints – There’s Still HOPE!!!!

Although this team isn’t playing like the team that won the Super Bowl last year they still have a chance.  Amazingly there is still hope to get into the playoffs and make a run at a second title.  The division is not that good and even if they lose this game they can still make a run.   Doug Pederson promised us a new norm, now he needs to make good on that promise.

There are issues on both sides of the ball this year that is holding this team back from being one of the top 5 to just being mediocre.  Here are some of those issues.

NEGATIVES ON OFFENSE:

  1.  1st Quarter Scoring.  They are failing to effectively start games even with their scripted plays.  This is causing them to fall behind early in games.
  2.  Redzone Offense – They just can’t convert at the rate they were last year.
  3.  Failure to Convert Third Downs
  4.  Getting away from the running game.

NEGATIVES ON DEFENSE: ( This list could be a lot longer)

  1. Turnovers – Not even close to last year
  2.  Inability to stop teams from converting on third downs and key situations
  3.  Lack of pressure on the QB.  QB after QB has been able to pick apart this soft secondary
  4.  LB’s – Where the hell are they.

There are a lot of other underlying issues that are causing the above problems.  The big one is talent, the Eagles have suffered injuries that they haven’t been able to overcome this year.  Next man up is a great mantra when it works, and this year it hasn’t worked.   This team would be a lot different if Jay Ajayi was healthy, Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, Daren Sproles, Jernigan, and on and on.  Plus some free agent losses are biting us in the ass.  I know easy to say now, and I know we can’t keep everyone.

POSITIVES ON OFFENSE

  1.  Carson Wentz is playing great football for a third year QB.   There has been way more positive for him than the negative.  Mistakes are magnified when your losing, the Alshon TD pass,  but the guy is playing better than he did last season.  He needs help, quick and in a hurry.
  2.  Golden Tate – His involvement in the offense will increase each week.  This will helps in so many areas.
  3. When they do run it has some effectiveness.  These are young backs and are still learning how to play at this level.  You see that when they miss blitz assignments or the holes they should be running through.  It will be nice if one of these weeks we can see which guy can carry the load.
  4. If they can fix the 1st Quarter issues, and get just a bit better in the red zone efficiency they can start putting together some wins.

POSITIVES ON DEFENSE

  1.  They aren’t giving up a ton of points.  Every game is close.  Their biggest loss was by 7 points.
  2.  Jernigan may be back this week.  He adds some needed pressure up front.
  3.  They are still good against the run.   Last week things fell apart bit but this team still does a good job against the run.
  4.  It can’t get much worse from here.  ( I was reaching there, I don’t have much faith in Swartz)

So How do they Win Against the Red Hot Saints:

Offensively – This Offense still has the ability to control the clock for long periods of time.  That will be huge this week.  The Eagles will need to dominate time of possession.  They do that by converting third downs, running the ball effectively, and not turning it over.  Keeping Brees off the field gives you the best chance to stay in this game and win it.  That Saints offense can’t tear you apart if they aren’t on the field.

Defensively – Wow, Jim Swartz has got to bring his “A” game this week.  The secondary was a problem and with Darby out it could be an even bigger mess.  The LB’s have been invisible lately and the pressure hasn’t been there.  He has got to find a way to mask blitz’s, get Brees moving out of the pocket, and find a way to stop the Saints on third downs.  I would love to see them get a pick or two but let’s be realistic this isn’t the week for that.  Brees rarely turns the ball over.

WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT:

The Eagles have to find a way to avoid getting into a shootout with the Saints.  Dominate the clock and try to keep this thing close.  If they can find a way to win this game that would be amazing.  If they lose but give the appearance that they have begun to solve some of those issues on offense and defense then we can be hopeful that they will make the run we need them to make.

MY BIG ISSUES WITH THIS TEAM:

Defense doesn’t win Championships.  I know people are going to argue that.  I don’t care.  Defense gives the Offense the opportunity to Win Championships.  The Offense scores the points and that is how you win.   We need our Defense to give us the Opportunity.  The Offense needs to capitalize on those opportunities.  I’m not confident that even if we can solve the turnover problem that it will automatically generate more points.  The Offense has to finish drives and they aren’t doing that like last year.  I would like to to see the defense make a stop in the second half and stop letting teams get back into games.

The Eagles can get away with going 5-2 down the stretch and still win this division.  That’s a tall task I know but it can be done.  They just need that first one.

I have picked this team to win every week, yeah I’m a homer I know.  Some players on the Saints are still talking S%&$ about last season.  That’s really cute but it isn’t our fault you blew it.  Each week I feel like this team can win if they can just fix some of those issues listed earlier.  I believe in Doug Pederson, not so much in Swartz, and feel like he can get this back on track.  He promised us a new norm, and now I expect it.

I am keeping hope alive.  After this game, we have three straight Division Games.  (Giants, Redskins, and then the Cowboys)  Win those three and your sitting at 7-6 or best case you beat the Saints and you’re now sitting at 8-5.  Then it’s on to the Rams, Texans, and finish out with the Redskins again.  It’s a tough tough schedule but they can get it done.  Win those division games and get into the second season.

FINAL SCORE 

Eagles 34 – Saints 28.