PHI at WAS – Game Preview

Posted: September 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 69 Comments »

I don’t think I can write a normal preview because there are simply too many unknowns. We don’t know exactly what to expect from Chip Kelly’s offense. We don’t know exactly what to expect from Bill Davis’s defense. Heck, the Skins may have some new wrinkles. Lots of unknowns.

For now, I’ll make some educated guesses.

EAGLES OFFENSE

We know that Chip Kelly wants to run the ball. This might be the week to stick with the passing game, though. The Skins were 30th in the NFL in pass defense last year. They were awful. They didn’t make significant changes to the secondary. They spent a 2nd round pick on CB David Amerson. They used a 6th rounder on Safety Bacarri Rambo. That means that 2 of the top 5 DBs are going to be rookies. Rambo is a starter. Amerson plays in some Nickel and Dime sets.

The good news here is that Kelly won’t out-think himself. If the Skins play their Safeties back, trying to limit big plays, the Eagles will likely run the ball and throw quick passes to the outside. If the Skins focus on stopping LeSean McCoy, it will be bombs away to DeSean Jackson. Kelly will stay true to his belief to take what the defense gives you.  Keep an adaptable gameplan and adjust it to what is there for the taking and what is working.

There will be a ton of focus tonight on Mike Vick. He didn’t play against the Skins last year, but was 3-0 vs them in 2010 and 2011. They did knock him out of one game in 2010. The defenses that give Vick the most problems are the ones with DBs who can play in the box and/or LBs who run really well. I don’t think the Skins fall into either category so that gives me some confidence that he can have a good game.

If you want to break this game down to its most simple level, the Eagles need to control the LOS. The O-line needs to keep Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo away from Vick. The OL must give him time to throw and open running holes for Shady and the gang.

I’m sure rookie Lane Johnson will have some bad moments. Few rookies step in and play at an elite level. Johnson did show this summer that he could handle getting beat. He was able to learn from mistakes and not have rushers beat him with the same tricks over and over. Johnson has the physical ability to be a shutdown OT. He just needs experience.

The blocker who had the most erratic summer is Todd Herremans. I’m sure that wasn’t lost on the Skins. The problem is that they don’t have a 295-pound DT who can use his quickness/burst to give Todd fits. The Skins DL are all 310 plus pounds. I’m sure they’ll try to work a favorable matchup there, but I don’t know if they can exploit it.

Maybe the most offensive intrigue is with the TEs. What will Kelly do with Zach Ertz? Will James Casey emerge as a key player now that the regular season is here? Ertz had an active summer, but I’m sure Kelly has some specific ideas of how to use him that we’ve not seen. Casey had a quiet summer, but I think he’ll be an important player in the no-huddle attack due to his versatility.

Speaking of the no-huddle, how many plays will the Eagles run? The Pats ran 89 yesterday. The Ravens ran 87. The Lions had 77 and the Niners had 75. Those are all really high totals. I’m sure Kelly would love to run 80 plays, but doing that against a team that runs as well as WAS will be tough. Part of running a lot of plays is stopping the opponent and getting the ball back. The Ravens had a different strategy. They let the Broncos score quickly and got the ball back that way. I’m hoping the Eagles run 75 plays tonight.

I fully expect the Eagles to move the ball and score points.

EAGLES DEFENSE

Can the Eagles stop the Skins?

Not many teams did last year. The Skins were Top 5 in yards and points. A more realistic  goal is for the Eagles to make some key plays. Come up with a Red Zone stop or two. Come up with a takeaway. You’re just not likely to shut the Skins down. Mike Shanahan remains one of the best offensive minds in the NFL and he’s got plenty of talent to work with.

Obviously RGIII will be the focus of everyone’s attention. He hasn’t played since last year’s ACL tear in the playoffs. Young guys can heal remarkably well these days, but part of what made RGIII so special is that he was a dynamic athlete. Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck can break off a 20-yard run. RGIII is the guy who could go for 50 yards. He had explosive speed and dynamic cutting ability. You could put him in a phone booth with 2 LBs and he’d come out untouched.

I don’t doubt that RGIII is healthy and ready to play. I question if he’s the same guy. We’ve seen ACL tears affect a player the next year and others that didn’t. Adrian Peterson showed no problems after his. He is as good as ever. I’m just not sure it is realistic to expect the same from RGIII.

Now that RGIII is coming off an injury, the thinking is that he’ll run less. He averaged 8 runs per game last year. The high total was 13, the low was just 1. I’m sure Shanny will have RGIII be more careful, but you don’t want to have him give up one of his great qualities. Mobility is part of what makes RGIII so tough to defense.

My guess is that the Eagles will focus on stopping the run and will take some chances against the pass. I would play a lot of 8-man fronts and force RGIII to  become a passer. He’s good at it, but it isn’t his strength. In 9 wins, RGIII averaged 24 pass attempts. In 6 losses, he averaged 30 pass attempts. Control the run game and make him throw. RGIII is most dangerous when the defense has to sit on its heels and react to him and the fakes. Is this run or pass? If run, is he keeping it or handing it off?

I would love to see the Eagles play a lot of 4-3 Under, also bringing an 8th defender down to crowd the LOS. We’ll have to wait and see what Davis actually does.

I’m pretty confident that Ced Thornton and Fletcher Cox will play well. I have no idea what to expect from Isaac Sopoaga. Last year DeMeco Ryans was quiet in the preseason, but then played well during the regular season. I’m hoping Sopes does something like that. If not, we’ll see Bennie Logan mixed in.

All Eagles fans are going to be watching Trent Cole a lot. Brandon Graham, too, when he’s on the field. Can these guys get the job done when allowed to attack upfield? They dropped a lot this summer because Davis was evaluating them. That’s over. This is go time. Both Cole and Graham will be attacking on most plays.

Mychal Kendricks is the guy who could be the key to the game. He has the speed to chase RGIII out wide. He also is the best blitzer. In the 3-4, he will be used to attack on a regular basis.

As for the secondary, cross your fingers. I actually like the corners, but they aren’t shutdown types who are going to impact the game. The Eagles need Fletcher and Williams to not give up big plays and to tackle when the ball is in their area. I think Patrick Chung could be a key player tonight. He is a good run defender. I would expect to see him in the box quite a bit. Nate Allen will finally get to show whether he can tackle or not. He’ll have some chances in this game. Nate had a solid summer, but this is a tough matchup for him. He’s got to read run/pass. He’s got to get to the right spot. He’s then got to make the play. A good game from Nate would be tremendous for the defense. A bad game could signal the beginning of the end for him.

The Eagles would love to put tonight’s game in the hands of RB Alfred Morris. He had a sensational rookie year, but you’d much rather face him than RGIII or Pierre Garcon. Morris ran for 76 and 91 yards vs the Eagles last year so they did a reasonable job in controlling him. He averaged just under 4 yards per carry and had only 1 TD.

Tackling will be critical tonight. The Eagles were erratic at tackling this summer. That needs to stop, ASAP.

I’m sure the Skins fakes and elaborate plays will lead to some confusion and missed assignments, but I hope that the ability to study what they did last year will make it tougher for them to catch teams completely off-guard.

EAGLES STs

I’m confident in this group. I am curious if we see DeSean Jackson as the PR.

RB Chris Thompson is expected to be the Skins top RS. He is a dynamic player. The Eagles must take good angles and tackle well. He’s incredibly fast, but also deceptively strong. Thompson did have some fumbling issues this summer so you can bet the Eagles will be trying to get that ball loose.

MISC

I’m curious to see how Vinny Curry will be used and how much he’ll play.

I’m curious to see if Chris Polk plays much. The #3 RB for Andy Reid played very little.

Will Kelly have 3 QBs active or just go with 2?

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama posted some thoughts on how the Skins will likely attack the Eagles Safeties.  Good stuff.

_


  • Daniel Norman Richwine

    Let’s play predict tomorrows headline:
    Chip not ready for prime time! Or,
    Chip dominated the NFL, all teams working in switching to the read option by week 3 at the latest!!

    • Anthony Hart

      Yup, no matter the outcome overreaction theatre will be in full force.

      • Andy124

        Of course. After the game Chip Kelly will either be undefeated, winless, or both in his NFL career.

      • Homer Frizzell

        Elsewhere and here.

        • Anthony Hart

          You are not wrong

  • GREagle

    Iz not been so excited since we alzmost got Urlakker!!!!!

    • Tyler Perry’s Madea Mike

      No kidding! I fapped that flap off on that one!

    • CrackSammich

      I hope you make yourself a regular presence, sir.

  • Corry

    I hope the defense makes the ‘Skins work for every score. As you stated, we probably can’t expect to stop them all together and honestly, I’m not sure the defense can even slow them down at all. If the birds can make the ‘Skins march down the field rather than give up big plays, I’ll take it as a positive. Tackle well, don’t give up the big plays, and execute assignments. Basically baby steps.

    I’ll also be eagerly watching the red zone offense and defense. That’s been one of many problems for the team for the past few years.

    This is going to be a tough early season matchup. Skins 38 – Birds 24.

    • GEagle

      I’m been yapping for 6 months about the latent talent of this young defense and I’m hoping tonight they start to show signs. I think our run defense is going to surprise people, and our front 7 will be fierce!!! I’m just not sure how much of it manifests in week 1. The important thing for this season is showing vast improvement from one month to the next, however I have a sneaking suspision that these boys are ready to win some games now…Curry,Cox,Graham I expect to be unleashed tonight!….Shutting down an offense like the skins isn’t happening, but I hope to see Chung stick his head on a ball and force fumbles..Barwin,Graham,Coox,Curry, someone needs to come up with a strip sack. Skins are putting up points for sure, but if we hold them to a few FGs, and force a turnover or two we can win this game..

      We have to take advantage of the secondary and over rated LB’s…I really think as long as we aren’t too sloppy this early, that the skins will have nightmares defending us…Vick been playing well in front of DCs 88 thousand since his Atlanta days…London is too be respected for sure, but he is over rated..makes a ton of tackles, but most are 4 yards down field..I see no way that London can run with Shady, and I hope to see us use Ertz and Casey to pressure him in the passing game? Deangello Hall is horrible, Amerson is Undiscaplined, Rambo is a boneheaded…both rookies can be taken advantage of in the run and pass game…there are run plays designed where we don’t have enough blockers and it’s Shadys job to make the safety miss…..boy is Rambo in trouble lol…..Washington was really bad at defending TEs last year and has done little to improve on it in terms of acquisitions…

      I know we sucked in the redzone…but I’m really not that concerned now that we have a coach who has no problems pounding shady behind Peters for 4 plays in a row…I also think Casey will score a redzone TD tonight…Casey is the forgotten soldier and tonight we remember why we were all excited about adding him to begin with…

      Tough game, but if we can show the penalty discapline that we displayed in the PS, continue playing very well on ST, and just hold onto the damn ball, we will be in this game…

      Anxious to find out how our conditioning and pace manifests itself in the second half…Is it overblown, or is it a real weapon that will lead to shady and Bryce start breaking long runs?
      ….
      let’s get it Crackalackin men!!!!

      Cox, Kendrick’s, Curry….Baby Gang Green shows it’s teeth tonight.. I look at these kids like when you look at a puppy and see that he has big Paws….these boys will be DOGS for us, the only question in my mind is how soon….Soap wont be spectacular, but I think he will do his job and allow Mykal to be spectacular….

      wondering how often we try to zone read 1 of the OLBs tonight, since the other has to line up in front of the BOSS HOG JP, which is the equivalent of having your picture on a Milk Carton..MIA…

  • GermanEagle

    I think it’s fair to say since AR is gone we can finally expect our first shutout.

    Eagles 41, Skins 0.

    • TommyLawlor

      A shutout? Dare to dream…

    • GermanEagle

      Lol @ those thumbs down who obviously don’t know what irony is…!

      • GEagle

        It would be cool if you couldn’t thumb down without posting a response so people’s stupidity and pettiness could be front and center

      • TheRogerPodacter

        thumbs down because i dont know what irony is.
        i think it means that something is completely made of iron, but i could be wrong.

        edit: hmm. won’t let me also give you a thumbs up, its one or the other. crap.

    • Neil

      16-0 baby.

      • CampDracula

        19-0

      • GermanEagle

        That’s what I’m talking about!

    • Mac

      May as well go all defense and have the scoring be 12-0 with 6 safeties and the Redskins using Alfred Morris as QB by the end of the game.

      • TommyLawlor

        Kudos for creativity.

  • Andy124

    I’m looking for Wolff to have (sing it with me)
    5 tackles for loss
    4 pass breakups
    3 forced fumbles
    2 strip sacks
    and a pic six before half time.

    • TommyLawlor

      Festive.

      I dare say if Earl does that he’ll be the Def Player of the Week.

    • GEagle

      Just curious to see how we use our Safeties…is Wolff playing because of 3 safety look. Or is he straight up rotating with Nate?…maybe a little of both. Interested in seeing the snap total for our secondary tomorrow..

  • Rage114

    The race for Clowney starts today. Although I think the Jags are the early favorite.

    • TommyLawlor

      Yeah, they were bad yesterday.

    • CampDracula

      One year ago, some were making the same statement but saying “Barkley” instead of “Clowney.” Just sayin’

      And yes. Jacksonville was bad yesterday.

      • anon

        Exactly, and Clowney hasn’t been jumping off the screen.

  • Vick or Nick

    Theres always one team that goes from the dumps to making the playoffs. Theres no way anyone with reason can see it coming. It goes against logic and rational thought. There are a ton of holes on the Eagles, esp the D. But heres to hoping that team will be the Eagles this year. GO BIRDS!!

  • TommyLawlor

    Be sure to check out http://eaglesblog.net/

    I’ve posted some good stuff there today.

    • Mac

      I especially enjoyed the link showing Hulk Hogans exceptionally long right arm.

      • TommyLawlor

        Ha. That didn’t even occur to me when I saw the pic.

      • Neil

        Excellent.

      • CampDracula

        A Hulk Hogan karate chop to Jerry Jones’ nuts gets a thumbs up every time!

  • TheRogerPodacter

    considering the overwhelming amount of unknowns in this game, you came up with a pretty excellent pregame writeup. of course, it would be pretty good quality for a regular game too, but you have given me high standards ; )

  • A Roy

    I haven’t been this stoked for the opener in a long time. Hope I’m not equally bummed at 10:00.

  • Eagles_Fan_in_San_Fran

    “We know that Chip Kelly wants to run the ball.”

    “Run the ball” – what exactly is that concept?
    I do not think that has been practiced here in Philly for some 15 years now.

    I do not like such foreign concepts.
    This Kelly guy must be shown the door immediately.
    Is Marty Mornhinweg available for tonight’s game?
    This heresy must be stopped in its tracks before it starts!

  • GEagle

    I didn’t have to be up today til 8am…went to bed at 11pm last night, woke up at 3am…couldn’t fall back to sleep til 6am, and woke up at 7am..lol way too Jacked up to sleep, but now I’m drained and running on fumes lol….It’s early but I’m hoping to get my second wind soon and be carried thru the night be adrenaline”….

    After 14 years it’s finally time….today just has a different air about it!!
    is tonight the beginning of our future parade?

  • goeagles55

    For anyone not in the local area, the Eagles have been playing this video as a commercial on local stations since Thursday: http://www.flyeaglesfly.com/

    • CampDracula

      Sorry. I got a little dust in my eye there.

  • new coach

    Is the use of Skins intentional to avoid the Redskins moniker? If so, kudos to you.. But I would suggest joining Peter King and calling them “Washington”.. Don’t mean to take away from game discussion, but feel this is an important issue

  • GEagle

    Man if I see us come out and lineup in a 4-3u, I will be sooooo pumped!!!!!

  • GEagle

    Do we see Lane flexed out wide in the screen game tonight? Could be too soo. For the rook, but it’s coming sooner or later
    .

  • Jernst

    I couldn’t agree more with everything you wrote, Tommy! It was like you were transcribing my thoughts. The only thing I would add, is that I’m really curious how the offense will look (play selection-wise) with Vick in control. I thought the differences between his offense and Nick Foles offense were striking. My feeling is that, much like we saw Cole and Graham drop in coverage often in the preseason, we saw the QBs being evaluated and practicing their weak areas. I expect the offense to look more like oregon with some West Coast passing concepts added in than many expect.

    The other thing I’d say, is that it is pretty sad that in his fourth year, we are still saying things like, “NOWS the time for Nate to show us if he knows how to tackle at all.” Ugh…how depressing is that. I really liked Nate coming out and thought he had a decent rookie year. Was definitely expecting more from him at this point in his career. It’s a little late to be wishfully hoping that he shows us he can handle some fundamentally basic safety skills. Then again we have the same hopes for our 33 yr old QB, but I digress.

    I cautiously optimistic and overall I expect the offense to move the ball and score points. As long as they do that, win, lose or draw, I’ll be satisfied. If the offense looks sloppy and out of synch I’ll really be disappointed.

  • ICDogg

    Woot woot! Game Day, Yeah!

    • A Roy

      WTF?

  • GEagle

    if RG3 8months removed from tearing his knee up a 2nd time, misses his entire 2nd NFL offseason. Practices for 10 days with his teammates and steps on the field and just destroys us, I’m going to be in a lot of pain lol…

    this is supposed to be the new Vick, the Epiphany Vick, perfect system that caters to him, excellent Oline. Excellent run game which will be used to take the pressure off of him, with an offseason of the greatest work he has ever put in…THIS new Mike Vick can not allow RG3 to blow him out of the park tonight.
    ..
    he can’t let this kid with everything stacked against him to drastically outplay him. Vick needs to rise to this challenge!!!!

    • A_T_G

      I don’t want Vick competing against RG3. I don’t want to see the cape. I want to see the ball out of his hands and into Shady’s, DJax’s, and the other playmakers. If Vick averages 2 seconds with the ball and does nothing for the highlight reel, I’ll be happy.

  • GEagle

    Everyone list an attainable goal for tonight that you would like see Manifest itself…I’ll start:
    ..
    TEs not dropping balls. redskins were horrible last year defending TEs and there is no way London should be able to run with Ertz or Casey. our TEs will get plenty of opportunities tonight to make things happen, I really hope we don’t see Ertz,Celek Casey(least of my concerns) miss out on opportunities by continuing to drop catchable balls

    • ICDogg

      Offense: No fumbles. Defense: force and recover at least one fumble.

    • Andy124

      I posted my attainable goal previously in christmas-song format. Was I too conservative?

      I’ll add DeSean Jackson over 100 yards with a td. And yes, fantasy football plays a role in that hope.

    • Rage114

      This is tough because I don’t even know where to start.
      Offense: Perfect in the red zone.
      Defense: I expect growing pains. But I don’t want to see tentative play. If they make a mistake, make it as fast and with as much authority as they can.

    • anon

      Win the TO battle (not even hoping for no TOs, just fewer than Washington).

      • Mac

        Joe Banner won the TO battle years ago.

    • A_T_G

      Nate Allen plays well enough to allow Wolffe to focus on 3-safety sets and developing for the future.

    • A_T_G

      RG3 shows that his knee is healthy and he can still run – by catching Kendricks from behind at the goalline.

  • Alex Karklins

    Was anyone else encouraged by New Orleans’ defensive performance yesterday? They played well enough to keep Atlanta in check, despite making the transition to a 3-4 with a far more dire personnel situation. They had a good pass rush and forced a few timely turnovers. I would be thrilled if the Eagles played like that tonight.

  • Corry

    Wow. Vinny Curry is inactive. As is Barkley (no surprise there)

    • anon

      No 4TE sets either, guess we’re saving that for later in the year. Guess not playing special teams means you don’t play. Maybe since GEagle’s friend didn’t get signed Kelly benched Emil.

      • Jack Waggoner

        I always said the 4TE sets were just Kelly messing with us and not likely to be repeated during games that count.

    • BlindChow

      That really makes me wonder what Curry is doing wrong. Remember when Lewis dropped to the bottom of the depth chart, and Tommy hinted it was an off-the-field issue?

      • Corry

        I’m thinking there are two main problems:

        1) He isn’t executing his assignments as a DE in the base defense. He’s not a two gap player, so him shooting upfield is likely not what the coaches want. I find it hard to believe that Davis couldn’t find a spot for him on the field though.

        2) He doesn’t contribute on special teams. The back up ILBs do as do the backup safeties, and both those groups have all 5 players active.

      • phillychuck

        Can’t figure this at all. Pass rushing is the most important thing a defense can do well. Curry can rush the passer like no one else on the team from the tackle position. Kelly or Davis just doesn’t see the games the way I do (which is fine, I guess, but I can’t help being concerned.

    • Jack Waggoner

      All of the safeties are active.

  • BlindChow

    Man, I feel sorry for Cleveland fans. They were down by just 6 points until half-way through the 4th quarter, and they only ran Richardson 13 times all game. Just like when Shurmur was calling the plays. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    Everyone is saying to expect Chip to run the ball a lot, so let’s just hope he doesn’t pull an Andy “But that’s just what they’d be EXPECTING me to do!” Reid…

  • Jack Waggoner

    RG3 is wearing a knee brace.

  • Jack Waggoner

    The line is 4 on Bovada, seems like I heard 3 earlier in the week.

  • Jack Waggoner

    Anyone’s fantasy football matches dependent on performances by players in tonight’s games?

    • Andy124

      I’ve got DJax and Andre Johnson going tonight trying to erase about a 30 point deficit.

  • P_P_K

    “Kelly will stay true to his belief to take what the defense gives you. Keep an adaptable gameplan and adjust it to what is there for the taking and what is working.” The Andy of the Bizarro World.

    “I would play a lot of 8-man fronts and force RGIII to become a passer. Both Cole and Graham will be attacking on most plays. As for the secondary, cross your fingers.” This is it in a nutshell. I think a good game by Trent seals the deal.

    Eagles 34-30