Eagle eye view on the enemy: Super Bowl LII Edition
3 February 2018 Opinion
The Eagles and Patriots are set for a Super Bowl rematch this Sunday in Minneapolis and people everywhere have a take on just exactly how this thing will play out. There are a lot of questions about whether the Eagles inexperience will hurt their chances of bringing the Lombardi to the City of Philadelphia for the first time in history. Although it can be a big factor, this roster has proven they are resilient and can handle the obstacles in their way.
Let’s take a look at the rosters for this winner-takes-all showdown:
Nick Foles has been playing high-level football during the playoffs. Eagles fans have seen this talent from him before and are not surprised by it. It does not feel like a fluke that Foles was able to slice up the league’s number 1 defense during the NFC Championship game. He realizes this offense functions best as a team and all the pressure is not on him to get the job done. With more time working within the pocket and building chemistry with his skill position players, Foles went on to create what was a nearly perfect performance against the Vikings. The Super Bowl can bring added pressure but with his calm demeanor and the trust of his teammates, Foles will lead this offense.
Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time. I won’t deny that because I am not foolish. Most people look at Brady and cannot see his flaws but he is in fact human and he does makes mistakes. He reads defenses very well and can manipulate players from doing their assignments with his eyes. The Eagles secondary will need to be composed and stick to what they need to do in coverage. Brady will try to get the ball out quickly with pressure coming from the defensive line so Schwartz will need to be prepared for that.
Big V had an amazing performance against one of the best defensive ends in the league during the NFC Championship game. He allowed several pressures but kept Foles on his feet. The entire OL has been a highlight of the birds’ playoff run. They’ve opened lanes up for the running game and offered strong pass protection against two very talented defenses. They’ll have challenges from the Patriots pass rush including most notably Trey Flowers and Kyle Van Noy. As long as the OL takes this trench war on like they did against the Falcons and Vikings, Foles will be able to stay upright and make plays down the field.
This Patriots offensive line is largely the makeup of what they won the Super Bowl with last season however, starting right tackle Marcus Cannon was placed on IR earlier this season. Their line held up fairly well in the playoffs but Jaguars sacked Brady 3 times in the AFC Championship game. Most people just look at the number of sacks a DL creates but Patriots offensive line never has dealt with the amount of pressures Eagles front 7 can put on the quarterback with their consistent rotation. It could frustrate Brady to have little room to step up in the pocket Sunday night.
Eagles defensive line knows they are the front line in beating Brady. This game is largely on their shoulders to create opportunities to pin the Patriots offense back and/or get turnovers. There is some concern with cold and flu-like symptoms holding out a player like Timmy Jernigan from practicing most of the week; however, he practiced on Friday and is expected to play Sunday. Schwartz will need his guys moving quickly during rotations on and off the field because Brady is known to snap the ball when the opponent has 12 men on the field. It will take dominance and execution to beat the “Patriot way.” I think the Eagles defense has the recipe to serve up an ass whooping.
That 40% number is huge. Eagles average pressure on 41% of passing snaps this year. Without blitzing it’s 38%. https://t.co/ov9hxj78cp
— Sam Monson (@PFF_Sam) February 1, 2018
Patriots had success getting after quarterbacks this season. They have a young talented defensive front and will no doubt attempt to eliminate the run game to force Foles into beating them. They’ve dealt with injuries upfront especially losing Dont’a Hightower for the season. They may try to stop the run but with guys like Blount and Ajayi breaking tackles and the best offensive line in the game, the advantage goes to the Eagles.
Ronald Darby was also dealing with illness this week but he practiced. He will have to play a large role in order to prevent Brady from having a good game. Darby had 3 interceptions during the season even though he missed several weeks due to an ankle injury in week 1. Rodney McLeod will need to play his best game to date in the back end of the defense. That is part of the field Brady loves to exploit creating big plays to guys like Gronk and Cooks or at least causing defensive penalties. In the quick passing game, Eagles secondary needs to prepare for the Patriots running backs. Whether it is White, Burkhead or Lewis, they need to be accounted for ahead of the snap. Tackling needs to be stellar and Eagles need to play opportunistic defense.
The Patriots brought in Stephon Gilmore in free agency coming off a solid 2016 performance for the Bills and he has done well this season. In total, the Patriots defense picked off opposing quarterbacks 12 times during the regular season with starting safety Duron Harmon leading the team with 4 interceptions. They struggled as a unit early in the season resulting in their losses to the Chiefs and Panthers but overall, they are a talented group and should not be taken lightly. They did lose Jonathan Jones to a season-ending injury in the divisional round against the Titans so expect to see Eric Rowe play more than he may have earlier in the season.
Jay Ajayi has been given the rock a lot more in the playoffs and he is probably as fresh as he ever will be this late in the season. He needs to protect the ball. Period. He has had problems holding onto the ball in the Raiders and Falcons games but I like to believe a large part of that were the extremely cold conditions. With Blount facing his former team, expect him to bring the pain and have a solid performance. I think the run game will be the difference maker. It will keep Brady off the field, Eagles defense fresh and allow Eagles to control the clock without putting all the weight on Nick Foles. Key receiving threats I believe will have a solid performance are Nelson Agholor out of the slot, Zach Ertz and Mack Hollins is my X Factor. Hollins’ size and speed has rarely been put on tape but he has proven to be clutch and could catch a disciplined Patriots defense off guard.
Patriots have so many weapons around Tom Brady and largely their are weapons because Brady elevates their games. Guys like James White, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola and Chris Hogan aren’t stars without Brady throwing their way. Brady makes this offense function. Gronk and Cooks are real deal threats but again, every single one of these guys can make a play for them and that is what makes defending them so challenging.
Playing in the Super Bowl is a dream come true for all these players. Back in 2005 the Eagles Super Bowl defeat helped cement the Patriots franchise as a dynasty in the NFL and this Sunday Eagles will help tear it down. Eagles are the better team and have shot at making history by doing what no other team has done. I believe they will do whatever it takes to bring the Lombardi trophy home in a competitive and wild win in Super Bowl LII.