Game Preview – ARZ at PHI

Posted: December 1st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 65 Comments »

I can’t be the only one who is going nuts while waiting for Sunday to get here. The bye week was great for getting the Eagles rested and healthy, but I’m dying to see the boys go out and play.

The Cards are a weird opponent. The media is buying in on them. I did too, initially. The  more I watched them play and studied the stats, the more I started to see some holes. The Cards are 5-1 at home. Their 2 road wins came in Florida, one vs the crappy Bucs and one vs the crappy Jags. Put the Cards in a favorable situation and they win. Challenge them and things are far less certain.

Watching the Colts game from last week wasn’t a ton of help. The Colts DL was awful in that game. The Cards don’t have a good O-line and seeing them control the LOS was not a good sign for Indy. The Colts OL struggled and Andrew Luck played poorly in part because of that. How far has that team fallen in recent weeks?

I’m fully aware that you can pick apart the Eagles just as well. Right or wrong, I just believe in the Eagles a bit more.

One of the key reasons is that the Eagles are good on the LOS. The OL can block. The DL can play the run and pressure the passer. The Cards have a good DL, but their OL has issues.

Maybe the best part of this game is getting to see Nick Foles go against a top shelf D. He’s faced some that were ranked relatively high, but none that had the buzz that the Cards have. There is a ton of hype about DC Todd Bowles and his players. A good NFL analyst suggested on Twitter tonight that Calais Campbell could be Def Player of the Year material. Patrick Peterson is a player who gets tons of hype. And Tyrann Mathieiu is another player the analysts love. These guys deserve the credit they get. Add in LB John Abraham, DL Darnell Dockett, ILB Karlos Dansby and ILB Daryl Washington and you have a talented defense that can make some plays.

If Foles and the Eagles can move the ball and score on these guys, the Chip Kelly hype will go through the roof. Probably true for Foles too.

I am curious to see how the Cards cover the Eagles. Does Peterson cover DeSean Jackson? If so, does he get Safety help or does that go to the CB on Riley Cooper? Jackson vs Peterson 1-on-1 would be very interesting.

I wrote a preview for PE.com.

There really are a lot of angles to this game.

* Playoff implications

* The return of Todd Bowles to Philly

* Bowles D vs Kelly’s O

* Mr NFL (Bruce Arians) vs Joe College (Chip Kelly)

* Can the Cards win on the road?

* Can the Eagles extend their home winning streak?

* Will the bye week affect the Eagles?

* Will we see Mike Vick as a role player?

* Can Nick Foles avoid turnovers against a Cardinals defense that thrives on takeaways?

* * * * *

If you prefer visuals, check out this great All-22 piece from Fran Duffy. Superb preview of the Cardinals.

* * * * *

Les Bowen wrote a good piece about the Eagles need to pick up the Cardinals blitzes.

The good news is that so far this season, Foles has been good under pass-rush pressure, in limited exposure. Pro Football Focus gives him a .676 accuracy percentage in such situations, with two touchdown passes and of course, no picks, because Foles hasn’t thrown any picks in the eight games he has played this season (five starts).

This isn’t all on Foles.

Foles agreed that the Eagles’ uptempo style could disrupt the blitz packages a bit – it’s hard for the defense to change personnel – but he said he figures the Cardinals have looked at that and figured out ways around it.

“Our line’s done a great job of really seeing what’s going on,” Foles said, when asked about his blitz success. “They’re able to give me just a split second longer to get a throw off. That’s huge . . . Our receivers and running backs have recognized when we are hot, to get their head around and get ready for the ball.”

Should make for an interesting match-up.

* * * * *

The Eagles will wear black jerseys. What do you guys think of that?

I’m mixed. I don’t like the black jerseys on the players, but I think they look really good on fans.

_


  • Scott

    We’ve been talking about this game for 2 year…wait, 2 weeks?

    • Mike Flick

      I am with you Scott. Time to get the game going.

  • Gary

    I’m cool with the black jerseys every couple years or so. Of course, if we lose today, I’ll blame it on them and despise them for a while.

    • PhilliePhanCT .

      Give me a modified version with Kelly green. Kinda fits with our new crackerjack coach Kelly. Actually….Kelly is one of those words if you say over and over, it starts to sound real stupid.

    • Mike Flick

      I am mixed as well.

      Pulling out my black jersey is : Lito Sheppard.
      He had some great memories, huge pick 6es but things ultimately didn’t end well.

  • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

    I think you’re underestimating the Cards D a bit. It’s not just that they blitz it’s how well they DISGUISE the blitzes. That’s what’s been getting opponents. For instance they will show man coverage..great…except it’s not man…they’re about to bring the heat. And they do.

    Now Bowles likes to sub a lot. Obviously uptempo doesn’t really allow for that. And the uptempo nature of the offense is the best defense this offense has against these guys. I’m real curious to see if they have an answer for it. If not it should be a good day. If so..well…it’s gonna be a very long day.

    • Tyler Phillips

      Being overly dependent on disguising blitzes and sub packages is a huge weakness against our Offense. Its more about whether they can adjust to us, not vice versa.

      • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

        We are def overrated a bit we beat a stretch of teams with bad defenses/offenses and an aaron rodgerless Packers, that’s not the case this week.

        The Cardinals D has been good for most of the year, their offense has not. And most of the teams they lost too are teams that are just flat out better than them. They do play in the NFC west after all.

        • Andy124

          Tommy pretty much addressed this:

          I’m fully aware that you can pick apart the Eagles just as well. Right or wrong, I just believe in the Eagles a bit more.

          One of the key reasons is that the Eagles are good on the LOS.

  • A_T_G

    You missed one of the big questions with this opponent, Tommy. Why would a team moving to a city named after possibly the most imposing and inspirational fowl ever to grace human imagination decide, “Nah, let’s just stick with Cardinals.”

    • SteveH

      At least they didn’t decide to go with Pelicans.

      • SteveH

        Are you intimidated yet?

        • TommyLawlor

          That does freak me out a bit.

    • Mike Flick

      They did make it a little meaner looking…

    • TommyLawlor

      The Arizona Phoenix?

      • BlindChow

        The Arizona Phoenices.

      • nicolajNN

        The Phoenix Phoenixes

    • Michael Winter Cho

      Nice, but the Phoenix Phoenixes doesn’t sound that great. The “Arizona Firebirds” doesn’t sound half bad, though.

  • A Roy

    The Eagles are still a work in progress and I, at least, still do not know what we have. Each week is viewed as another piece of the puzzle, especially with regard to Foles. This week is the truest test we’ve seen thus far. Let us not get too low if the Eagles lose this one. They’ve surpassed what was expected already.

    • GEAGLE

      We aren’t losing this one! Arians doesn’t get to take shots at our coach,come in here at 10am and escape with a win!!!

      Just watch how possessed our front 7 looks today…Kelce has been waiting days to blast someone

      This game is ours!!

      • A Roy

        From your lips to the football god’s ears…

  • Brandon Gleklen

    It feels like the off-season with all of these “what if?” questions. I’m just ready for some real football!

  • http://twitter.com/sitko77 Mark Sitko

    Hey Tommy – just a thought I would love to hear your ideas about:

    There is a lot of talk about the drop in average yards per run for Shady when Foles is the QB over Vick. The easy analysis is that opponents do not fear Foles running so they can focus on Shady. I am not sure this is the whole story. As much as that could be true, could it not also be true that in the games when Foles is under Center we are usually winning by a large margin, therefore running it more AND running it when it is very expected. Perfect example is the classic 9:30 minute drive to win the Bucs game. Going into that drive, according to the announcer, Foles had been averaging 5.5 yards that game, but due to the drive being a series of successful predictable runs his average for the game dropped to almost 4.5…THAT is why Shady’s avg drops when Foles is in – because we get 2 scores up on people and then they know we have to run it…Vick is actually not good for Shady at all…when he is in the D does not have to defend the pass nearly as much as they do now.

    • Andy124

      I think part of it is also that LeSean played poorly in at least one of the Foles starts, which, with the relatively small sample size can have a disproportionate affect on the aggregate.

      Based on LeSean bringing up how Vick opens up running lanes for him every time he opens his mouth, I can’t help but think he might press a bit too much with Nick in there. I’m guessing he grows out of that.

      • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

        Or “Vick opens up running lanes for him.” It really is that simple.

        Shady doesn’t have to adjust his running style with Vick in. He does with Foles and he hasn’t successfully done that yet.

        • Andy124

          Or there could be, you know, more than one factor involved.

          Crazy, I know.

    • BlindChow

      McCoy averaged 6.2 yards/carry against Green Bay. That was his second highest per carry average of the season. In Tampa his average was 4.6, which was his fourth highest. Foles was the QB in both those games. Yet for some reason, this meme about Foles killing the run game survives.

      Basically, if McCoy breaks a big run or two, his per-carry average sky-rockets. That is what happened in his four biggest games, two of which had Foles behind center. The difference in his rushing numbers is more likely accounted for by differences in opponent’s defensive strength and defensive coordinators having more film of the Eagles to study as the season’s progressed.

      There is a legitimate point about teams stacking the box when Foles is at QB, but the solution is to throw the ball well, which Foles has done. If that keeps up, teams will have to play with two safeties back, which will make it easier for Shady to break those big runs.

      • Anders

        McCoy also had one of his worst days when Vick was starting against the Giants.

    • TommyLawlor

      Teams do play Foles different. That does have an effect on Shady.

      That said, Shady is going to be a top RB no matter who the QB is. He’s a special talent.

      • A Roy

        I think it’s more the fact that teams try and stop what you do best. What the Eagles do best is pound the rock with Shady. At some point…probably today…they’ll start blitzing more, which should open it up for screens and draws…and Shady.

  • T_S_O_P

    I want our D to out perform their D as a statement. I want our O to respond to the indirect comments about its colloege nature and stuff it down their throats. I want Foles to throw 8 TDs by half time and I want Dave Fipp to make Mike Tomlinson’s Thursday night indiscretion look mild. Otherwise, I’m fine with whatever happens!

    • Mike Flick

      Then it would just be a “Same old Cards” story line, not ready for prime time.

      • T_S_O_P

        Perfect, because the story they’d be missing is – same old Eagles :-)

    • GEAGLE

      I’m telling you, our defense will make a statement today!! Today is the day we go hunting for respect!!!

  • ACViking

    The Eagles have won zero titles wearing midnight green or black jerseys.

    But in Kelly green the birds have 3 championships in 5 title games.

    Sure their vintage is old. But so are the best Bordeaux.

    Scotch the midnight green and black.

    Tradition!

    • Andy124

      Mmmmm, Bordeaux.

      But I still prefer the midnight green.

      • A Roy

        Kelly and Cabernet Sauvignon.

      • Anders

        I be honest, I prefer the Midnight green jerseys. Maybe it is because the Eagles have always been midnight green while I have been a fan.

        I be honest, Im also one who loved this fake jersey design

        http://static03.mediaite.com/sportsgrid/uploads/gallery/nfl-fake-jerseys/j-eagles.png

        The funny thing regarding midnight green is that it is actually a shade of cyan and in RGB code it has more blue than green.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Midnight_green

        • Andy124

          That is absolutely hideous.

          And I was around for the Kelly Green days. Still think the Midnight Green looks better.

        • GEAGLE

          I want midnight green and silver Seahawks jerseys, with their neon stripe being Kelly green..with Kelly green alternates where the stripe becomes midnight green!

          • Neil

            I’m so thankful this will never happen because I’d have to spend every game watching from the bathroom while I continuously puked.

    • jshort

      There must be scientific evidence behind wearing black after a bi- week. Chip always has a reason why!

      • A Roy

        Sunny day in cold weather, the black will retain the light and be warmer.

    • A Roy

      Sure the vintage is old, but so is ACViking. :-)

      • GEAGLE

        It’s “uncle” Viking!!!

  • jshort

    Any weather concerns at game time?

  • jshort

    The Cards wore there black jerseys last year.

  • Andy124

    I’m fully aware that you can pick apart the Eagles just as well. Right or wrong, I just believe in the Eagles a bit more.

    One of the key reasons is that the Eagles are good on the LOS.

    Ding ding ding. Every time I’ve read about the Cardinals wins against weak competition, I keep thinking, “Yeah, you could say the same about us.” But this right here is what it boils down to. My favorite football cliche, games are won and lost and the LoS,

    • BlindChow

      Yeah, a lot of people are making noise about how the Eagles haven’t beat a team with a winning record; but the Eagles themselves have a winning record. Would beating the Eagles suddenly make another team “legitimate”?

      • jshort

        Sure would……Luck if we win.

  • BlindChow

    Riley Cooper prefers the white jerseys.

    • jshort

      Thinking the whole team does. 5 wins in white. Damn, this whole morning is going so slow. On second pot of coffee. I’m racing, time isn’t

    • A Roy

      heheheh

      • jshort

        Ohhhhhhh!!!

  • Andy124

    1:00 really needs to get here.

  • Pennguino

    Flying today. Will have to catch it on replay. I think they need to go up tempo and screen it early on. I would bet Bowles wants to show Lurie that it was his team and not Bowles that was bad. They will go after the NFL rushing leader. Shady will have more yards receiving than rushing. Quick short throws to get the defense discouraged in the blitz pressure then pound them when they are tired.

    • Andy124

      Remember when Tampa tried blitzing every down and Chip screened them, successfully, about 4 plays in a row to start the second half. Put a stop to that right quick.

  • Joseph Dubyk

    The Arizona Cardinals are responsible for ruining MANY of my Sundays
    over the years. Jake Plummer’s 4th quarter come back (he had many) in
    1997 where he threw the go-ahead TD to Frank Sanders made me punch my
    T.V. that I worked all summer for. I was banned from watching the Eagles
    for 3 weeks after that.. The 2008 NFC CG made me throw a conniption
    also..

    With that said IM ITCHHHHHHING for this game to start!! it feels like the 2000s again since we’re in it in december!!!

    • Andy124

      Your voice, it sounds so, so reasonable. :)

  • GermanEagle

    I’m at Shorty’s in Hell’s Kitchen to watch the Eagles. So if anyone is around, just say Hi!
    Go Eagles!

  • GEAGLE

    Don’t know about y’all but I’m FIEN to kick some monkey ass!!!
    ,..
    Start this damn game so Arians boys can pay for his fat mouth!!!

    Powers #2 CB is a Damn pigeon waiting to be picked on!!! We need Riley to do serious damage

    can’t go 3wr because the Honeybadger moves from safety to Nickle and I don’t like Avant’s chances getting freed from the badgers tight coverage! gotta go 2 TEs and Celek and Ertz have to make some big plays today..

    #2 WR and the TEs are how you attack the sweet spot of this tough king hippo ass defense….sweet in the GUT!!! Get em ERTZY!!!

    Our defense is going to put on a show today, Carson is getting abused and molested til he has enough and leaves this game early. Hit everything that moves, hit hard, hit often!!!

    let’s go boys!!!

    • jshort

      God damn G, you a descendant of Knute Rockney???

      • GEAGLE

        Lol…im a descendant of punch some bitch ass cardinals in the mouth!!!

  • GEAGLE

    I’m with Tom…love wearing my black jersey, not crazy when our players wear it…but I’m down for a blackout today.

  • Neil

    Wearing black is as far as fashion a way of saying I GIVE UP.