Going into the NFC Championship game, very few would have predicted such a blowout, but we must face facts – Philadelphia deserve to be in a Super Bowl and they can beat the New England Patriots.
But the question is – how?
Well, the blueprint lies with Tom Coughlin-associated teams. The New York Giants naturally knew how to take on an even better Patriots side and get past them, but the stark contrast in approach from Jacksonville last week wasn’t reminiscent of a Coughlin-led organisation. Here’s four things the Eagles must do if they’re to succeed.
Embrace the Dog
They’re underdogs and rightly so. Lane Johnson and co joked around by wearing dog masks in the playoffs, as everyone had written them off when they lost Carson Wentz to a season-ending injury. These antics appear to have united the locker room and they’re playing with a chip on their shoulder.
It seems as though Nick Foles only really surprises people – so he may well shock the world on the biggest stage of all. New England are physical up front and that grit must be embraced if they’re to bite as loud as they bark.
— Robert Littal (@BSO) January 14, 2018
Blitzing Tom Brady consistently is needless and unnecessary. It gets you into trouble more often than not, and the biggest secret of the lot is – his receivers really aren’t physical enough to beat press coverage if applied correctly. Look at Jacksonville last week – they went ten points ahead and dropped back into Cover 4 after Cover 4.
The Eagles’ defensive front don’t even need extra help. Jim Schwartz can send linebacker pressure when and if he sees something in New England’s scheme that benefits, but otherwise – Curry, Jernigan, Cox and Graham can overpower almost any offensive line in the league.
Dropping seven into coverage means he’ll aim for Gronk, but you can double-team him in most situations with safety help, once you commit to it. Making Brady throw balls up for grabs is the only way you can force turnovers – he’s too accurate against zone to make mistakes.
Jacksonville playing zone primarily on that last drive and Brady picks them apart. Given NE personnel, I don't understand not playing straight man and forcing the issue
— James Koh (@JamesDKoh) January 21, 2018
Lean on the Jay Train
Run early. Run often. Soften up that pass rush and give Foles time on play-action passes to dunk balls into medium-distance targets. The only consistent thing about Nick Foles’ quarterback play is his inconsistency – so don’t expect him to have the same type of week he had last time out.
Ajayi is a physical runner, and so is Blount – who New England know only too well. That one-two punch can bruise up the New England defensive line and leave Foles with time in the pocket – which he’ll desperately need if he’s to spoil Matt Patricia’s last hurrah.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) January 22, 2018
No Stupid Penalties
It’s hard enough to beat Tom Brady without giving him free yards. Don’t do that – he’ll pick them up himself. Thankfully, Philadelphia’s offensive line is quite battle-tested, but it may play on the Philly D’s minds to get to Brady as quick as possible. Bar Aaron Rodgers, Brady is the best in the league at manipulating the hard count – and he could easily test the Eagles’ discipline.
And should they get to Brady – no excess. Roughing the passer penalties are a killer, and Brady is invincible regardless, so there’s no point trying to hurt him. It may sometimes feel like you need twelve men to beat New England, but, Philly – please don’t take that literally.