2018- Week 2 Eagles vs. Bucs Preview
Matt Finocchio - Head Writer
Full-disclosure; in my 2018 season predictions I said the Eagles would win this game 31-14. Then in Ep. 2 of the Philly Birds Talk podcast, I tempered my expectations by a measly 4-points and predicted a final score of 27-14.
By tempered expectations, I mean I forgot to crosscheck my season predictions article with my podcast notes. Such is the life of a one-man operation.
Since my most recent prediction was 27-14, I’ll stick with that final score.
Now that my confession is out of the way, let’s talk about a few things I’ll be looking for in week 2:
1: Nick Foles and his attempts down the field…
Foles’ performance last week against the Falcons was far from impressive; he was 19-of-34 for 117 yards, zero touchdowns and 1 interception.
What’s even more concerning than the zero touchdowns and 117 yards is that Foles’ longest pass went for 18 yards and he averaged just 3.44 yards per attempt.
For comparison, last week the Buc’s Ryan Fitzpatrick’s longest pass play was 58 yards and he averaged 14.89 yards per attempt. If the Eagles expect to have a multi-dimensional offense this week, Foles needs to have more attempts downfield.
Unfortunately, the Eagles WR corp. is depleted at the moment, as it looks like Alshon Jeffery will still be sidelined as he recovers from off-season shoulder surgery and Mack Hollins was recently put on IR (both are great deep threats for the Birds). This leaves Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor and Shelton Gibson as the top 3 wide receivers heading into week 2. I think Foles needs to get these guys going early on, forcing the Bucs’ defense to focus on big plays downfield, not just 3-yard attempts like last week.
2: The Eagles offensive line dominating the line of scrimmage…
The old cliché of whoever controls the trenches wins the game is a cliché because it’s true. Fortunately, the Eagles quite possibly have the best offensive and defensive lines in the league.
Offensively, it will be crucial to get the running game going, especially if Foles is struggling. Looking back to last week, the offensive line started to take over in the second half, leading to two Jay Ajayi touchdowns. If they can do the same this week, I think the Birds get the W.
3: The Eagles defense pressuring Ryan Fitzpatrick with a four-man rush.
Similar to the Falcons game, I think the Eagles defensive line will be able to put pressure on the quarterback without the need for an additional blitzing defender. Blitzing, though obviously fun to watch as a fan, can leave a defense exposed.
Fortunately, I think the Eagles can put pressure on Fitzpatrick solely with their four d-lineman. If this happens, I think Fitzpatrick’s performance will be quite tamer than his impressive week 1 outing.
4: Former Eagles DeSean Jackson, Vinny Curry and Beau Allen…
Not much to say here except I’ll be paying particularly close attention to these guys to see how they play. It’s always interesting to watch former Eagles players to see how they perform in different roles, schemes, etc.
So there you have it, the four things I’ll be looking for in this week’s match-up. For all you podcast fans, I’ll be dropping an episode early next week with reactions to the Bucs game along with a preview of the Birds’ week 3 match-up against the Colts, so be on the lookout for that.
Until then, go Birds!