Eagles-Saints Pregame ThoughtsBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Sunday, November 4th, 2012
There will be no excuses for the Eagles offense this week.
Andy Reid’s offense is ranked 28th in the league, managing just 17.1 points per game. Through the first six games of the year, the offense has looked painfully inefficient and hopeless. Poor playcalling combined with even poorer execution combined with 17 turnovers have reduced what once an electric, explosive unit into a joke. The Eagles were once a threat to score on any play, but now they struggle to put together multiple touchdown drives in a game.
Many people came into the season with high expectations for this offense, but after watching them perform at a mediocre level for seven games it’s fair to wonder whether or not they’ve been overrated as a group. Right now this offense doesn’t have an element that they can point to and confidently say that they do well on a consistent basis. It seems like each time the unit takes the field that they’re desperately grasping at straws in search of a spark that can get them into the endzone.
Followers of the team have been waiting for this group to have a breakout game in which they come alive and play like the group they were in the past that could move to football at will and put up more than 28 points in a game. If that breakout game doesn’t come on Monday night, then I don’t think it’s going to come at all.
The Saints defense is simply the worst in the business right now. New Orleans is giving up almost 500 and over 30 points a game. They don’t stop the run, they can’t cover anyone, and they don’t get pressure on the quarterback. This defense is so soft and incompetent, it makes the Eagles defense look like one of the best in the league by comparison.
The Saints have been lit up by every offense that has lined up against them so far this year, including the lowly Kansas City Chiefs. If you haven’t seen a Chiefs game this year, let me assure you, the Chiefs may be the worst offense in football. If you think Andy Reid does a terrible job of integrating his best player (LeSean McCoy) into the offense, Romeo Crennel does an even worse job by going weeks at a time without using Jamaal Charles while constantly putting the football into the hands of Matt Cassel, a quarterback who is more turnover-prone than Michael Vick. Yet in spite of their issues, the Chiefs managed to put up over 30 points against New Orleans in Week 3.
The Eagles have spent most of the season saying that they need to get better and that they’re a much better team than what they’ve shown. Well, it’s time to shut up and put up. Anything less than 28 points is unacceptable.
You can blame the coaches for poor playcalling. You can blame the offensive line for missing assignments and struggling to get any push. You can blame the quarterback for costing the team valuable scoring opportunities with his careless turnovers. But the reality is, if the Eagles offense comes up small again and against a defense this bad, it’s time for everyone to accept that the players on this offense have been vastly overrated, and aren’t nearly as good as many thought they were.
Defense Remains Unpredictable
I don’t know what to expect from the Eagles defense on Monday night.
While they’ve got nowhere to go but up after last week’s nightmarish performance against the Falcons, the Saints offense isn’t any less daunting.
The idea behind the firing of Juan Castillo was that Todd Bowles would be able to come in and provide some stability to a talented defense that had been underachieving and blowing fourth quarter leads. In the first week of the Bowles era, the defense took no steps forward and stumbled through their worst performance of the season, allowing Atlanta to score on each of their first six possessions.
The pass rush was still MIA, and the elite talent of the Falcon receivers was too much for the Eagles secondary to control.
After seeing such a lifeless, uninspired performance a week ago, I don’t see how Bowles can do anything to turn this group around. Maybe the Eagles do some things different with their rotations (maybe this is the week they finally give some serious consideration to activating their second-round pick Vinny Curry to inject some fresh blood into a defensive line that has been almost completely ineffective against opposing offensive line), but ultimately I think this defense just has too many underachievers that lack the drive necessary to dramatically improve themselves.
Part of what made this defense successful in the first few weeks of the season was that were creating turnovers in big moments. In each of their three victories this year, the defense has been responsible for at least one turnover that changed the outcome of the game. During the team’s three-game losing streak, they’ve stopped doing that.
How The Eagles Can Beat The Saints
As mentioned above, this a week for the offense to click on all cylinders and put up some big numbers.
As laughable as it is to even suggest this idea, the Eagles could take advantage of a run defense that gives up over 170 yards a game and lean heavily on LeSean McCoy and the running game. Once the run is established, the Eagles can turn to Michael Vick and the passing game to try and connect on some big plays down the field against a terrible New Orleans secondary.
Defensively, the Eagles have nowhere to go but up after last week.
The Saints don’t run the ball very well, and most of their offense runs through Drew Brees. As great as Brees is, he is a guy that is capable of turning the ball over multiple times in a game.
Nnamdi Asomugha should stick to covering Marques Colston most of the night. Colston isn’t a speedy receiver, he’s a big physical player that Nnamdi has a better chance to shut down. Several weeks ago the former Raider played his best game as an Eagle while covering Calvin Johnson. He has a chance to do the same to Colston.
Maybe this will the week that the Eagles get a sighting of either Trent Cole or Jason Babin. Neither player has been seen or heard from on the field in over a month, and these two are certainly overdue to have big games.
Why The Saints Will Win
Even though the Saints actually have a worse record than the Eagles, I think they’re a much more functional football team.
Their offense is still a powerhouse, and Brees has traditionally had no trouble carving up the Eagles defense in recent years. Their offensive line should be able to buy the quarterback ample time against an underachieving defensive line.
I don’t think the Eagles can account for all of Brees’ weapons. In addition to Colston, Todd Bowles will also need to find answers for a very good tight end (Jimmy Graham), an excellent slot receiver (Lance Moore), and a speedy guy who can stretch the field (Devery Henderson). After seeing what Matt Ryan did to this defense last week, there’s just no way I can see the Eagles limiting what the Saints can do.
If the Saints can follow Atlanta’s formula for success, it’s going to be another long game for the Eagles. New Orleans is very capable of putting together long, powerful drives that end in touchdowns. If they’re able to accomplish that, they’ll keep Michael Vick and the offense from getting into sync, and make it all too easy for the pass-happy Andy Reid to cross his running plays off of his play chart.
I just can’t see the Eagles coming out of New Orleans with a win.
To me, the Eagles are a sinking ship.
There is a sense of desperation around the team, but it’s not the type of desperation that translates into a team waking up and kicking things into high gear. This is the type of desperation in which the coach and his players are grasping at straws while blindly searching to solutions for their problems without a real sense of direction.
I think the Eagles will play a much more competitive game this week than they did against Atlanta, but the defense won’t be able to stop the Saints any more than they could the Falcons, and even if the offense plays well I don’t believe that they’re capable of keeping up with Drew Brees in a shootout.
Denny Basens is the editor of GCobb.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter.
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