Sorry this is so late. The Penn State 4 OT game threw off my schedule in a big, big way.
I feel good about this game. Tampa struggles on offense. The Eagles weakness is defense, but that group seems to be heading in the right direction. They did some good things vs KC and NYG. The Denver game is an anomaly since Peyton Manning is a freak right now.
I think the matchups work well for the Eagles. Tampa has big WRs, not speedy RAC guys. Tampa doesn’t have players that catch the ball and make big plays. Obviously RAC yards have been a major issue for the Eagles.
The Eagles offense shouldn’t be in a shootout. That’s good since points will likely be tough for them to come by. I do think the Eagles will come up with enough points to win.
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I’m curious to see if Tampa plays more man or zone. The Chiefs, Broncos and Giants played a lot of man and dared Mike Vick to beat them. Those teams often doubled DeSean Jackson. That put pressure on Vick to find Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Brent Celek or Zach Ertz. Cooper lacks the route running ability and natural speed to get much separation. The other guys work the middle of the field a lot. These players had mixed results against the man coverage.
Nick Foles should do better in terms of throwing to covered receivers and working the middle of the field. He did this a lot at Arizona. If the Bucs adjust their defense and mix in more zone to try and jump pass routes, that will let the Eagles bring back the bubble screens. That’s been missing in recent weeks as teams have played a lot of press coverage.
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Some of you wondered about my comments on Foles and how “he didn’t blow me away last week”.
Nick did a good job. No one can dispute that. I’m looking to see if he can be a franchise QB, not just a starter. I think Foles can be a starter, but our goal is to win the Super Bowl. You need a stud QB to do that. You can argue about Flacco (2012) and Eli (2011), but those guys were 1st round picks and they’re better players than their critics give them credit for. You don’t have to have Tom Brady or Peyton Manning to win, but you do need more than Andy Dalton or Matt Schaub. Heck, Matt Ryan and Tony Romo have combined for only 2 playoff wins.
The Foles critics will laugh at the notion of whether he’s a franchise QB. That’s fine.
I’m keeping an open mind.
He isn’t special physically. The question is whether he can become special by developing his mind and instincts. I don’t think it is likely this will happen, but I think you have to see the guy play before you know for sure. He did some good and bad things as a rookie. Normally you’d look for answers this year, but with the new offense, he’s kind of a rookie again.
Sunday is a huge chance for Foles to offer some clues on what he can do. I think it is great that he’s going against a good defense. Last year his only win was against the Bucs and their dead last pass defense. What did that tell us? That he could be the #32 pass defense. A win on Sunday will tell us he can move the ball on a good defense.
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As for Vick’s return, I don’t know what to make of this note from Reuben Frank.
Although head coach Chip Kelly said Vick’s status for Sunday will likely be a game-time decision, Vick did not sound particularly encouraging in a brief interview after arriving at the team hotel Saturday afternoon.
“Right now, still working to get back to it — get to 100 percent, you know,” Vick told Gunn. “So it’s going to be a long road.”
And that was it.
Was Vick just being sloppy with his words? Or is this issue worse than we’ve heard?
I reported the other day that the guys on NFL Network said the higher the injury (closer to the butt cheek), the more severe. Vick grabbed right under his cheek so maybe this hamstring injury will take a couple of weeks.
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Back to the Tampa game. Here are the must-read pieces from Sheil Kapadia.