A win on Sunday and the season outlook “should” remain optimistic. Lose to the Saints, and although the playoffs are in play “mathematically speaking,” the fall out would be ugly.
I’m not confident in the Philadelphia Eagles right now, because the Eagles players and coaches don’t “sound” confident themselves. Where is the leadership, what is the identity of this football team? The Saints have an identical record and are also searching for answers. What they have that the Eagles lack is the luxury of a head coach and quarterback who have been through the good times and the bad times. I don’t think other than the title of head coach and general manager of Sam Bradford that Chip Kelly goes out of his way to build any type of relationship with the quarterback he traded for.
When two 1-3 teams matchup, there are typically big issues for the slow start. The Saints have had some turnover with their roster, mostly due to salary cap reasons, but even the changes they made don’t compare to the Eagles. The starting offensive line that the Eagles trot out on the football field is a “direct” reflection of Chip Kelly. If the Eagles are unable to establish the run early, the Saints could very unload an increased percent of blitzes, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is extremely aggressive especially when he knows the limitations with the opposing offenses.
My biggest question going into this matchup is the motivation of the Eagles. Forget singling out who the blame falls on with the slow starts in the first half; it has to be a thing of the past. Even with Drew Brees not 100% healthy, the Eagles defense is not good enough to limit him. The Eagles offense is going to need to score in the first half, and produce for all four quarters.
The Saints offense is not the same without Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles and Colston at the end of his career. They are now a team that likes to run the football, Ingram is the lead back, but with Spiller now healthy, his role should certainly increase most likely as a receiver. Cooks has done little this season, Snead and Coleman have had bigger productions weeks. The tight-ends are merely role players. It’s the weakest offensive line the Eagles have faced so far this season, so there will be an opportunity to capitalize of defense.
As for the Eagles, what part of the Eagles offense will shine this week? The Eagles have yet to show they can produce both by rushing and passing the football in the same game. Their inability to do so is why the offense is unable to move at the pace it did during the first two seasons. Too many three and outs, defenses aren’t worried about playmakers and the scheme is too basic. It’s time for the Eagles to run the football like they did against the Jets, connect on the deep ball against the Redskins, move at a quick pace like they did in the second half against the Falcons and exploit an average at best New Orleans Saints defense.
This game is not likely to come down to defensive football; it’s going to be which offense scores touchdowns instead of settling for field goals.
With the Eagles at home this week, with all of the pressure mounting on Chip Kelly to figure this thing out, I do expect a win this week.
Eagles 27 Saints 24