I like the Eagles chances in this weekend’s NFC Championship game. Quarterback Nick Foles seems to have gained a great deal of confidence from his success against the Falcons. Foles went into the Atlanta game with a “cloud of doubt” over his head. He was tentative in the pocket and played poorly in the last two regular season games.
You could hear a lack of confidence in his voice. Players will say they’re not bothered by poor play in interviews, but deep down, they have self doubts because of their own poor play. Not only did Foles have doubts because of his poor play, his teammates were wondering how he was going to play. Now after the victory over the Falcons, the locker room is more relaxed and more confident because they feel their quarterback can do the job.
I thought head coach Doug Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich did outstanding jobs of putting Foles in position to be successful against the Falcons. All of his completions were either behind the line of scrimmage or short throws, which allowed him to get the ball out of his hands.
They had a great deal of success with RPO’s (run pass option) plays, which give the Nick the choice to hand the ball off to a running back or pull it out and throw a quick pass. In the second half of the game, they went to “tempo” offense, which is a no huddle attack with the RPO’s. The plan got Foles going and put the Eagles in position to win.
Pederson and Reich are going to need to put together a different plan for the Vikings. Like the Falcons game, the Eagles must continue to run the football. They can’t get away from their running game and allow the Minnesota pass rushers to pin their ears back.
The Eagles coaches and players know this is going to be a low-scoring game that is likely dominated by the outstanding defenses of both teams. If one of the teams is able to run the ball, it’s going to allow them to run some play action passes and open up their offense. You can’t afford to be one-dimensional with either one of these defenses. Both offenses need to try to run the ball even if they’re not having success with it.
I like the matchups of Eagles tight end Zack Ertz versus the Vikings linebackers Erick Kendricks and Anthony Barr. Both of them are great athletes. They’re tremendous run stoppers as well as coverage linebackers, who can tackle in the open field. I still don’t think they can cover Ertz on a consistent basis. I haven’t seen a linebacker in the league cover Ertz on a consistent basis so I love the matchup of the Pro Bowl tight end versus the Minnesota linebackers.