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23 September 2019 Uncategorized

The Philadelphia Eagles are 1-2. Tied in the NFC East with the New York Giants and trailing the undefeated Dallas Cowboys by 2 games. The Eagles let another game on Sunday slip right through their hands, both figuratively and literally. Miscues at every phase have the fanbase rightfully questioning if the Eagles can meet the standard of contending for another Super Bowl.

There is a lot to dislike. Inconsistent offense, fumbles, untimely penalties, and that’s only one side of the ball. Jim Schwartz has more Jim Johnson in him than ever this season, but there is no Brian Dawkins to scream through the line and get home to the quarterback. We are 3 weeks into the 2019 season and the Eagles can not overcome their mistakes.

Life does not get any easier, as the Birds travel to Lambeau Field on a short week to take on the undefeated Green Bay Packers. This is a different Packers team from the past. Mike Pettine has the Packers defense playing aggressively, and Jaire Alexander is quietly becoming an elite cornerback. New head coach Matt LaFleur has emphasized the utilization of his running backs, to take some pressure of his future Hall of Fame quarterback.

Aaron Rodgers found himself in a similar position that Carson Wentz faces this week. Five years ago, in a season filled with the highest expectations, Rodgers’ Packers fell to 1-2. Coming off an abysmal loss to the Detroit Lions, Rodgers addressed the media  “Five letters for everyone out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X”.

In one sentence, Rodgers transferred the mountain of pressure surrounding the Green Bay Packers organization and placed all the attention on himself. It was a page right out of the Buddy Ryan playbook. The Packers had started 1-2 the previous two seasons and made the playoffs in each of them. That season would be no different. This season for Carson Wentz will follow the same path.

The Best Revenge Is No Revenge

The Carson Wentz Revenge Tour started against Washington. After a disappointing first half, the team settled down and exploded for 25 second-half points. Massive injuries to key wideouts have disrupted the offense ever since. The Carson Wentz led Eagles has fought admirably, but the frustration of coming up short is written all over their faces. Even the stoic head coach pulled no punches with the media today.

The players are pressing. For the second straight week, Nelson Agholor has allowed opportunities to shine in a contract year slip right through his hands. Carson is out to prove that he can stay healthy and carry this team to a Super Bowl. As their leader, he wants to deliver for his guys. His team wants to deliver for him. No more playing like there is something to prove. The talent is undeniable. Just ball.

The revenge will come in due time. Everyone needs to R-E-L-A-X. When you suffer the level of injuries that the Eagles have, it becomes increasingly more difficult to win in the NFL. It’s frustrating because of the way it happened. The last two weeks have been very winnable games. That is a testament to the level of talent on this team.

Thursday night is a winnable game. Let’s turn the page and take a peek of why I like the Eagles to rise to the occasion on the national stage Thursday night.

The Eagles are the more talented team. The game is never won on paper, but it’s important that we remind ourselves that the accolades thrown Howie Roseman’s way for the development of this roster, are warranted. When the Eagles are firing on all cylinders, they can quickly separate themselves from this Packers team.

This is the Jordan Howard game. Turnovers were one of Pederson’s big 3 when he talked about what went wrong versus Detroit. Miles Sanders ball security issues should translate into a heavier dose of Jordan Howard. Green Bay’s defense, although improved, struggled against a Minnesota team that was determined to play power football. Green Bay escaped with a win thanks to Kirk Cousins, but the Vikes ripped off a whopping seven yards per play against this improved Packers defense. Only six teams in the NFL have allowed higher yards per rush than the Pack this season.

Alshon Jeffery is expected to play and is ready to silence the doubters. Jeffrey’s availability gives the Eagles a 12 personnel package that resembles their original depth chart. Jeffrey’s presence in the huddle will not only provide a level of comfort for his quarterback but will also take the pressure off Agholor.

The Eagles pass rush very well could break out. Aaron Rodgers isn’t afraid to hang in the pocket and let deeper routes develop. The Eagles’ defense will have plenty of opportunities to get home against a Green Bay offensive line that is allowing sacks on 7% of his dropbacks. That’s 21st in the league.

The Eagles can make the Packers one dimensional. The Eagles front has been under scrutiny for its lack of big plays this season. The Packers commitment to the running game has been instrumental to their early success. Quietly, the Eagles’ defense ranks second in the NFL behind New England in rushing yards allowed per attempt (2.9). The ability to shut down the run will give the Eagles pass rushers an edge as the game progresses.

Coaching – I have not lost any confidence at all in Doug Pederson. Regardless of the adversity, Pederson will attack the Packers will the same aggressiveness that led the Eagles to the Super Bowl. The Eagles undoubtedly have the edge over Green Bay’s first-time head coach. LaFleur has done a nice job to date, but the NFL is a different animal when you are on top. The national stage will not phase Pederson.

Make no mistake, Thursday night’s match up requires a level of urgency. A third loss will put the season in jeopardy. There is no downplaying that. The Eagles need to come out confident, loose and focused. It will be exciting to see who sets the tone at such a critical juncture of the season. The Packers are a talented team with a new identity.  This is the NFL. It’s not supposed to be easy, but it’s possible. They don’t have to win the Super Bowl in September. They just need to believe again. #FlyEaglesFly



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