Posted: January 12th, 2019 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »
The Eagles and Saints have met three times in the playoffs over the years.
The Eagles beat the Saints in New Orleans in a wild card game after the 1992 season. That is one of my favorite Eagles games ever. Seth was outstanding. Randall threw a couple of glorious bombs to Arkansas Fred for long TDs. Reggie sacked Bobby Hebert for a safety late in the game and life was good.
The teams also met in 2006 and 2013. New Orleans won both those games.
One of the big reasons why…the Eagles couldn’t stop the run. The Saints fan for 208 yards in the 2006 win and 185 in 20-13. That is dreadful run defense.
The Saints ran for 173 yards in the November shellacking of the Eagles. That has me wondering if Jim Schwartz will make run defense a real key for this game.
It is easy to throw all the attention to Drew Brees. He is headed to the Hall of Fame and is one of the greatest QBs in league history. But all QBs tend to play better when they have a good run game. Take his away and let’s see what happens.
Brees is also in a bit of a slump.
Drew Brees’ first 11 games vs. his last 4: pic.twitter.com/LXtUyBY3V6
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) January 8, 2019
It goes beyond numbers as well.
New All-22 on @TheNFLWire: Drew Brees did not have a December to remember. The tape shows anticipatory and mechanical issues, especially under pressure, that are shocking for a player of his caliber. A lot to fix for the playoffs. https://t.co/qQHNq1lsft
— Doug Farrar (@NFL_DougFarrar) January 12, 2019
Read the article and Doug points out some plays where Brees is making bad throws due to poor mechanics. That’s not like him at all. Brees is one of the most consistent QBs in the league, in terms of his mechanics and his production.
Even with Brees cooling off a bit, the idea of putting the game in his hands may seem crazy. But history would disagree. When Brees throws 40 or more passes in the postseason, he’s 1-6.
Have him throw 40 or fewer passes and he is 6-0. Wow.
There is one caveat. The only game Brees won while throw more than 40 passes came against Jim Schwartz. The Saints beat the Lions 45-28 in 2011. Schwartz was the head coach, but you know he had a lot to do with that defense. They were gouged for 626 yards that day. Ugh. To be fair, the Lions gave up 550 yards to the Packers and backup QB Matt Flynn in the season finale so that defense was really starting to fall apart.
Let’s say Schwartz does decide to focus on stopping the Saints run game. How?
The return of Tim Jernigan and Haloti Ngata getting healthy will make a difference. You can’t expect Fletcher Cox to do it all on the inside. He needs help.
The improvement of Nigel Bradham will help. He was outstanding last week. I don’t know what has happened to him in recent games, but Bradham suddenly looks like the stud he was last year. Maybe the training staff finally gave him the Funyuns therapy I’ve been telling them about all year. The NFL doesn’t have rules against Performance Enhancing Snacks.
The Eagles played mainly dime defense last week and it worked really well. The Saints have physical RBs so I wonder if Schwartz will go with a nickel look this time out. The Saints don’t have a ton of speed on offense so there is something to be said for this.
Schwartz has seen Dallas shut down the Saints. He saw the Panthers hold them to 12 points. He needs to steal an idea or two from those games. The Eagles don’t need to shut down the Saints. They need to slow them down. If you can keep to less than 24 points, the Eagles have a great chance to win this game. That’s a big if to be sure.
The Eagles secondary is playing better but they still have issues.
Sidney Jones was a full practice participant on Friday. Good chance he plays this week. #Eagles
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) January 11, 2019
What do you do with Jones? Or do you just use him for depth and on STs. I know plenty of fans are down on Jones right now. Let’s see him get healthy and really show what he can do before we write him off. He’s looked very good at times. The potential is there.
One reason to stick with Maddox-LeBlanc-Douglas is because of tackling. Those guys can all tackle well. That’s going to be critical. Jones played LCB in the first Saints game and missed Mark Ingram early. That became a 38-yard run. The current corners aren’t perfect by any stretch, but they haven’t missed many tackles. That does make a difference.
Schwartz and the coaching staff have some interesting decisions to make…strategy, scheme, personnel.
Let’s hope they come up with the right answers.
One area where I feel like the Eagles have a clear advantage is mood. The Eagles are a loose team. That can help a lot in the postseason, where there is tremendous pressure.
I don’t have a great feel for the Saints, but things do seem a bit different with them. They played like a nervous team down the stretch. They scored at least 21 points a game for the first 11 weeks. In three of the last five games, they were at 14 points or less.
All the pressure is on New Orleans. They’re the top seed. They have the Hall of Fame QB. They’re supposed to win.
It’s always a bit uncomfortable to cover a visiting team’s practice since you’re not used to their building or their rules, and the players and coaches don’t “know” you. So thanks to #Saints coach Sean Payton for being so “welcoming” 🙄
Guess I touched a nerve? #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/Wf6vU4fJRN
— Jamie Apody (@JamieApody) January 11, 2019
Coach then said: “Y’all want this???”
“Win 3 F’n games.”
The locker room erupted. $225k is each player’s SB bonus. #WHODAT
— Jon DeTrinis (@JonDeTrinis) January 9, 2019
Maybe that’s a brilliant motivational ploy. Just feels weird to me.
Eagles players get excited for dog masks, ski masks and ice cream. There is a natural joy to this bunch and that shows on the field.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 12, 2019