Game Preview – WAS at PHI

Posted: November 14th, 2022 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Game Preview – WAS at PHI

Tonight’s game against the Commanders will be a good test for both teams. This is the first rematch of the season for both teams. We’ll be able to see how they adjust to each other and also how the teams have changed since the first meeting.

Critics of the Eagles will tell you that the offense is a bit gimmicky, with all the RPOs and a collegiate feel. The more teams see of the Eagles, the better they’ll be able to adjust and should slow the Eagles down. We’ll see how Washington does with that tonight.

The flip side is that the Eagles staff knows what didn’t work in the first meeting and now they’ll be able to come up with different ideas to stress the defense and get playmakers into good position. Remember that football isn’t a chase for one perfect play or scheme. You simply need to stay one step ahead of the other guy. Sometimes a simple wrinkle can make a big difference.

Washington is 4-5 after blowing a 10-point lead and losing to the Vikings last week. Before that, the Commanders had won three in a row. Prior to that they had lost five in a row. You could say they’re a tad on the streaky side.

The biggest change with Washington is at QB. Carson Wentz is hurt and Taylor Heinicke is now the team’s savior. He’s 2-1 in three starts. He won by two, by one and then lost by three last week. Washington fans love Heinicke. I get that he’s scrappy and emotional. It is fun to root for underdogs. But their love for him shows you how desperate that fanbase is for a true franchise QB.

Heinicke is short so interior pressure can really affect him. The Vikings DL batted down three of his passes.┬áHe can get panicky in the pocket. He is mobile so you have to watch for him getting outside, where he can run or has room to see the field. Heinicke’s hero is Brett Favre and you see that in his play. He can be very aggressive. Last week he threw into triple coverage down the field. Terrible decision. One DB ran into an official and the other two failed to play the ball so the play turned into a TD that made all the highlight shows.

The Eagles secondary will have chances for INTs. Heinicke will throw those hero balls and hope for the best. That shouldn’t work as well against a defense that leads the league in INTs. When Heinicke is in the pocket and working the middle of the field, he will miss high at times. Again, that’s more chances for picks. Wentz tended to hold the ball and take sacks. Heinicke will take chances with his throws. I’m not saying the Eagles will have 9 INTs, but that would make for a fun game.

Washington only managed 240 yards and 8 points in the first game against the Eagles. Wentz got sacked 9 times and there wasn’t much of a run game to speak of. They only turned the ball over once. They were 6 of 17 on third downs so that tells you they played a lot of smallball and struggled to sustain drives.

The OL will be different for Washington this time around. Not better, but different. Cornelius Lucas will be the RT and he really struggled last week.

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Haason Reddick and Brandon Graham will have a chance to get regular pressure off the that side. WAS will have a different center, with Tyler Larsen starting this week. They have had a lot of OL injuries and started various combinations. The Eagles DL will be a tough test for a group lacking in time together.

The Commanders have run the ball better in the past four games. They have averaged 132 yards on the ground in that stretch. They’ll get the ball to RBs Antonio Gibson and rookie Brian Robinson, but will also work in others. Last week they handed the ball to a TE on a jet sweep. They give it to receivers on a regular basis. Curtis Samuel has 18 rushes this year. As a point of comparison, Boston Scott has 24.

The Eagles run defense has been leaky in recent week. This will be a good test, to see if the Eagles were able to fix some issues or if this is a bigger problem than Jonathan Gannon thinks. That said, Gannon isn’t going to load the box when he’s going up against Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel. Gannon will focus on coverage first and rely on his front five or six to handle the run.

The goal isn’t to be Gang Green and completely stifle the run. Football is a different game these days. The goal is to control the run. If Marcus Epps tackles better a few times last week, Houston isn’t getting as many yards. I’m sure Epps got an earful in meetings. I would expect him to play better tonight.

Even with the improved ground game in recent weeks, Washington is averaging 17 points per game. The offense showed good potential in the first two weeks, but has been mediocre since then. If the Eagles can hold them to 17 points, Gannon won’t care too much about the run.

Avonte Maddox will miss the game so Washington may try to go after Josiah Scott. Samuel normally works in there, but they could mix in Dotson and McLaurin as well.

The marquee matchup of the night is Washington’s defense against the Eagles offense. The Commanders have kept opponents to 21 points or less for five straight games. They have the #2 pressure rate in the league. Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne give them arguably the best DT duo in the NFL. The Eagles put up 400 yards and 24 points on this defense in the first game so they have had success against them.

Washington is playing better defense now. The Eagles have been good on offense all year so it is hard to say if they’re better or not.

The Commanders limited the Eagles to 72 yards rushing in the first game. That’s the only time all year the Eagles were held under 100. Heck, every other game has been 111 yards or more. Give the DTs credit for that. They were disruptive and clogged running lanes all game long.

Jalen Hurts threw for 340 yards and 3 TDs in the earlier win. DeVonta Smith had the best game of his young career, going 8-169-1. AJ Brown was 5-85-1. Washington had no answer for them. CB Benjamin St-Juste is playing well and isn’t a guy you want to attack. The other DBs are all fair game.

Washington will blitz and get creative at times. LB Jamin Davis is long and athletic. He’s disruptive when he rushes and has 3 sacks this year. Hurts has improved a lot vs the blitz this year so Washington has to be smart about how and when they go after him.

It will be interesting to see what the Commanders do with their pass defense. Do they focus on Brown or Smith? Do they keep their safeties back and dare the Eagles to run? As a remind of how good Smith was in the first game.

What a performance.

The Eagles should have put up more than 24 points in that game. The offense got sloppy in the second half and drives stalled out after promising starts. The coaches changed a few things and the Eagles have been scoring better in the second half since the bye (29 points in two games). We’ll see if that trend continues.

The Eagles haven’t played in more than a week so they are well rested. With the exception of Maddox and Jordan Davis, the team is pretty healthy. Washington can win this game, but they need help. They have an excellent DL and that always gives you a chance. I think they need takeaways to score enough to win, unless their coaches have been saving some amazing plays for this game.

As you can see below, that offense just isn’t good.

The Washington defense gives them a chance, but I’m guessing the Eagles have too many weapons and will make enough plays to score and win.

I was curious if the return of Chase Young might give them a boost, but that won’t be happening. Washington is hoping he’ll be back for the next game so that timing helps the Eagles.

I was not impressed with Washington’s STs unit last week. That is an area where a lot of teams have an advantage, but I’m not sure that will be the case. I also wasn’t impressed with Ron Rivera’s coaching last week. He and his staff made some curious decisions.

This is definitely a game the Eagles should win, but all you have to do is look at the Dallas-Green Bay result to see that anything can happen. Nick Sirianni has done a masterful job of keeping his team locked in. I expect we’ll see that again tonight.

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