Keys to Playoff Success for Philadelphia Eagles
By Nick Collins
Dec 29, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) celebrates while he leaves the field after the game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT
After all the nail biting, pacing around the room, and endless sweating, I was finally able to rest easy Sunday night after the Philadelphia Eagles did the unimaginable: they made the playoffs. Before people complain about how close the game was, realize that everything about this match up screamed trap game.
The Eagles were the favorites to win against a Dallas Cowboys team without starting quarterback Tony Romo at AT&T stadium. The pressure mounted on this squad with none of it being more harsh than on second year quarterback Nick Foles. There entire season came down to this one game. Despite it coming down to the last few plays, the Birds pulled through. It was good that this this crucial battle played out as it did.They needed to, as Foles said, overcome adversity. The struggle will only help them continue to fight and get rid of any complacency. It was a very solid win.
Looking ahead, Philadelphia will play the New Orleans Saints Saturday night at Lincoln Financial. Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees and company are coming to town in what is sure to be an epic contest. Two power house offenses are sure to put some points on the board and both defenses will have to step up. If the Eagles are going to win this game, here’s three things they must do.
Get to Brees.
Last game against the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles’ defensive line looked soft as they were unable to get pressure on Cowboys’ quarterback Kyle Orton. As a result, Orton was able to establish a rhythm and make a lot of great throws and, despite throwing two interceptions, come away with a pretty solid night.
That being said, giving one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL that kind of time in the pocket is only going to ruin any chance of the Eagles advancing. Brees can, and will, make throws against any defense if given an ample amount time. Philly needs to bring pressure and get in his face early to disrupt his ability to make good throws so they can force some turnovers.
Give Foles time in the pocket.
One of the worst defensive lines in the league walked all over the Eagles’ offensive line last week. Surely Saints’ defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is going to try and bring the heat on Foles for his first playoff appearance and the offensive line has to protect him.
As we saw last week, without time in the pocket the Eagles were unable to get anything going. It’s not that Foles didn’t play well or he held onto the ball too long, he just didn’t have enough time to watch the play develop. When he has time in the pocket, there is no receiver he cannot hit and it makes the Eagles that much more dangerous in the passing game.
Run the ball (Effectively).
In the six losses suffered by the Eagles this season, running back LeSean McCoy received an average of 70.8 yards on 14.6 carries per game. In the games they won, he received an average of 118.2 yards on 22.6 carries. Shady’s success in the running game is directly correlated with the success of the team. His ability to make defenses focus on him makes the Eagles into a much more dynamic offense by opening up the screen game, freeing up receivers, and increasing the effectiveness of the play action.
If the Birds are going to win, they need to feed the beast. Whether it’s running or screens, let him get into space and make people miss. Although Foles has had a breakout season, my Eagles MVP candidate for the year would still have to go to McCoy. Let him loose.
If they can do this, I think they have an excellent shot at winning this game.
Can’t wait to see what the Eagles have in store for us this weekend. See you in Philly. #FlyEaglesFly