Tonight the Eagles host the Bengals in a game that will have playoff implications…for the Bengals. Boy, that’s a sentence I didn’t anticipate writing back in August.
The big questions for the Eagles are: 1) can Nick Foles win his second start in a row 2) can the team build off Sunday’s win and play well for 60 minutes? The big question for Eagles fans is…do they want the team to win? The W here means nothing, but could affect draft position in a negative way. Maybe some fans want a home victory. Others just won’t care.
I don’t feel good about this matchup. The Eagles struggled with DT Gerald McCoy last week. This week they have to face Geno Atkins. He’s got 10.5 sacks, 6 TFLs, and 3 FFs this year. To put those numbers in perspective, for his career McCoy has 9 sacks, 12 TFLs, and 3 FFs. Atkins has really been a man on a mission this season. Evan Mathis, Dallas Reynolds, and Jake Scott had a tough time with McCoy’s quickness. Atkins will be a major challenge.
The good news is that Cincy has the #11 rush defense. Tampa is #1 overall, allowing almost 30 yards less a game than Cincy. That means Bryce Brown should be able to get going this week. Don’t schedule him for any 150-yard games, but I’m betting he gets out of single digits in the 1st quarter, if not the opening drive.
Cincy is 10th in pass D. That means Nick Foles will have more of a challenge. Frankly, I’m glad. I don’t want him putting up gaudy numbers against crappy teams. I want to know if he can be the real deal. Facing good teams is one way to find that out.
I don’t know what to say about the Eagles defense. The changes that have been made recently have led to mixed results. Since this is a short week I’m not sure how many good adjustments the defensive coaches have been able to make. They’ll have 10 days to work with after this game so that’s when you could see the coaches start to really fix things.
We do need to see a better showing from the DEs. The Eagles had 2 sacks last week, both by DTs. The DEs were simply not productive enough. I’m curious to see how DRC responds to facing AJ Green. Will that bring out the best in him? I sure hope so.
The Eagles are 2-1 vs the AFC North, with the games decided by 1, 1, and 2 points. Don’t expect a blowout.
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New H2H show from Mr. Bama and myself. 2 actually. Skype cut us off after about 30 mins and then we did a 10-min wrap up after that. Game and coach talk.
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I didn’t get a chance to touch on some topics the other day so here goes.
* Young QBs having Sophomore Slumps. This isn’t as bad as you think. Cam Newton is red hot right now. Andy Dalton got off to a slow start, but then picked things up. There are other guys who are having down years. Football is a game of adjustments. Defenses adjust. It is then up to the young QBs to show they can adjust. Also, being a good NFL QB is just tough. Handling success is a very underrated challenge.
* Foles not having batted balls at the LOS. Height is the obvious difference. Foles does move better in the pocket and that allows him to find passing lanes. He generally has an over the top motion. Vick loves to throw sidearm. As a short QB already, that made his passes even easier to block.
* Cooper’s future … WR corps. A lot of people have wondered about how to incorporate Riley more in 2013. Can he play the slot? How about DJax or Mac? Riley can play inside, but he’s probably best on the outside. DeSean is much better outside. Slot receivers need to be quick, not fast. Speed is wasted when running in heavy traffic. Mac could be good in there. He would just need to embrace the role. For me the key is to study how the Saints and Packers use their WRs. They do it by specific roles and packages. The Eagles can do that instead of sticking with the starters on every single play. Mix and match.
* DL coaches not being DC/HC candidates. I mentioned the other day that DL coaches don’t always translate well to coordinators or HCs. The DL attacks. LB and DB coaches have to gameplan for the passing game. They must understand how to teach attacking and covering. They must work together in order to cover all the eligible receivers. A good DL coach must motivate and teach technique. That’s about it.
* Hidden assistants. Are they any positional assistants that could be the next Andy Reid? I’ll cover this in the future.
* Who is more disappointing Landri vs Cole? I love them both. It hurts to pick. Why not ask me who I treasure more, Jimmy Bama or Megan Fox? If forced, I’ll go with Cole. Trent is an established star. He’s playing hard, but the results aren’t there. I think Landri had a minor knee injury that slowed him for a few weeks.