Eagles Keys for Revenge over Pats in Super Bowl LII

Image Courtesy: EA Sports Madden NFL '18 via youtube.com/wickedsharpnel

Super Bowl LII

  • Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots (-4.5)
  • Sunday, February 4th, 2018, 6:30 PM, U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis MN

Injury Report

  • Philadelphia Eagles
    • As of now the Eagles seem to be a full go as on DT Timmy Jernigan missed practice Wednesday due to illness.
    • Players listed on injury report but fully practiced on Wednesday:
      • RB Jay Ajayi (Ankle)
      • DT Fletcher Cox (Calf)
      • LB Darnell Ellerbee (Hamstring)
  • New England Patriots
    • The Patriots have two major players who are still considered to be questionable for Sunday.
      • TE Rob Gronkowski (Concussion, yet to have cleared protocol)
      • CB Malcolm Butler (Illness)

Keys for the Eagles on Offense

Stay Aggressive 100% of the Game

  • The Patriots are no stranger when it comes to making a comeback, when given the opportunity.  The Atlanta Falcons held a 28-3 lead late in the 3rd quarter in last year’s Super Bowl and lost the game 34-28 in overtime.  The Jacksonville Jaguars held a 20-10 lead in the 4th quarter of this year’s AFC title game and lost 24-20.  It seemed as if both teams got comfortable with their “leads” and tried to secure them instead of extend them by playing conservatively.  New England smelled the fear in their opponents and took advantage.
    • In the Jaguars game, Jacksonville had a chance to tack on a late field goal before half time with 52 seconds left and instead downed the ball to go into the half with a 4 point lead.
    • On the contrary the Eagles were up 14-7 with only 29 seconds left in the half and pushed the ball up the field to end the half up 17-7 with a Jake Elliot field goal.  The Eagles got to where they are in part due to the aggressive nature of Head Coach Doug Pederson, with that being said they need to continue on with that mindset.

    Control the Clock

  • It’s simple, Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady is the best to ever do it in my opinion, so give him less opportunities to be great.  This is where Doug Pederson needs to be smart and aggressive at the same time.  New England’s front 7 on defense is good but they are vanilla and can be run on.  The Eagles offensive staff needs to focus on giving the ball to running backs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount.  The way the two backs have been used this season are as if they have been preserved.  No matter what this is the last game of the season and if possible they need to be used in their full capacity.  With Nick Foles’ recent success using the “Run-Pass Option,” a power running game should open up the passing lanes against this New England defense.  There will be situations where Nick Foles needs to pass the ball even if they have a sizable lead to stay on the field and the run will have to set this up.

Keys for the Eagles on Defense

Frustrate Tom Brady

  • The Eagles have one of the best defensive lines in football as they essentially have 8 starters instead of 4 due to their rotations.  The Patriots will combat the Eagles defensive line by playing up-tempo, trying to bar the Eagles from making substitutions to their lines.  Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz will have to get creative in blitzing Brady without giving him open passing lanes.  I predict that Brady will have his way with their tempo, but my hope for the Philadelphia defensive line is that their rest throughout the season mixed with their talent will be able to persevere and get in Tom Brady’s face and disrupt his passes.

Eagles Linebackers Need to Step Up

  • At all three phases of the defense the Eagles can tackle, but the emphasis should be on the linebackers.  New England’s receivers are good, not great, and TE Rob Gronkowski will get his as long as he plays.  Surprisingly they are not who the Eagles should be most worried about on Sunday, it’s their running backs such as James White and Dion Lewis.  Throughout Brady and Belichick’s run, no matter who was on the roster, they always relied on their running backs to turn small completions into big gains.  This will be one of the ways the Patriots will combat the Eagles defensive line by staying on the field.  Here’s the deal, the Patriots will try to be creative, but you know these plays will come.  Can the Eagles linebackers hold these running backs to minimal games?  To me that could be the determining factor if the Patriots will be successful on offense in this game.

Key Players and X-Factors

  • On Offense
    • Eagles Running Backs Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount
      • These bruising backs need to set up manageable 3rd downs on 1st and 2nd down to keep Tom Brady off the field by extending drives.
    • Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery and TE Zach Ertz
      • These two pass catchers will need to be reliable, especially on 3rd down when they will need to keep drives alive.
    • X-Factors for the Eagles on offense are RB Corey Clement and WR Nelson Agholor
      • Both have been used in unique situations to extend drives or make key plays.  They will need to come up in the clutch if the aforementioned key players above are shut down by the New England defense.  Again this goes to Head Coach Doug Pederson’s play-calling and aggressiveness.
  • On Defense
    • The Eagles Defensive line will be regarded as a whole, but the player on the line who will need to step up the most is DT Fletcher Cox.
      • Other defensive linemen like Graham, Long, and Jernigan will be important for sure but Cox’s play disrupts offensive lines.  Fletcher Cox will be the determining factor if he can distract New England’s front. Will he make it easier for the Eagles line to “get home” on Sunday?  The play of the D-Line could make it easier for the defensive backs to do their job against some talented skill players.
    • Linebacker’s Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks are the X-Factors on defense in this game to me.
      • As I mentioned above can the Eagles LB’s stop the Patriots RB’s from turning their small completions into big games?

 Prediction

  • As great as the Philadelphia’s defense has been this season, especially in the playoffs, New England’s offense will have success.  Belichick and Brady are a different and more experienced monster this Eagles team has not faced before.  I do expect Doug to be aggressive going for risky fourth downs and converting at least 3/4 of them.  The aggressiveness of Doug Pederson will frustrate Belichick and the Patriots. The Eagles offense lead by QB Nick Foles will have enough success against the Patriots to win, but Foles’ numbers will not be as flashy as they were against Minnesota.  In my prediction I say the Eagles will win this game in a nail-biter 31-27.

 

About Marc Tomasini 14 Articles
Philadelphia Eagles Beat Writer for Wildfire Sports (@_WildfireSports) and Co-Host/Show Writer/Producer of The Small Ball Lineup Podcast (@SmallBallLineup) on Wildfire Radio (@Wildfire_radio). Follow Marc on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/marc.tomasini and Twitter/Instagram @PhillySportsSrc!

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