Eagles looking to ground Seahawks
more teams win by seven or fewer points. Wentz pocketed his first fourth-quarter comeback victory last week with a 24-15 decision over Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons.
On the road, the Eagles have lost four straight by seven or fewer points. And they’re rolling into a facility where the Seahawks are 31-5 since Wilson became the starting quarterback in 2012.
Additionally the Eagles aren’t scaring opponents with their dink-and-dunk attack. Though Ryan Mathews ended a team drought by breaking the 100-yard rushing mark last week, the passing game is dysfunctional.
It’s not all Wentz’s fault that he’s thrown 95 straight passes without a touchdown pass, the longest active streak in the league according to Stats LLC. When Eagles receivers actually get open, which is anything but a sure thing, they struggle making catches. The Eagles are eighth in the league with 14 dropped passes, by a very conservative count.
Wentz for the most part has played like a rookie on the road. He’s thrown one touchdown in 112 attempts in his last three games away from Lincoln Financial Field. He’s also been intercepted twice and lost one of three fumbles. Wentz is second in the league with nine fumbles.
“I think the biggest thing is we finished last week,” Wentz said. “We finished late in the game. That’s something we’re definitely going to build on. As far as the early-in-game struggles on the road, I think they’re all week by week. Hopefully, we’re getting over that hump.”
Hopefully Jordan Matthews, slowed by back spasms and Zach Ertz, nursing a strained hamstring can play their regular shifts Sunday. The Eagles need Bryce Treggs to get deep, as well. Otherwise Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas will be in Wentz’s face mask.
In each of the Eagles victories, Graham, Fletcher Cox and the rest of the defensive line has dominated. In all but one of the losses, they didn’t.
The Eagles take on a Seahawks’ offensive line that isn’t loaded with Hall of Fame talent, yet was able to ground-and-pound the disciplined Patriots into defeat. And then there’s Wilson, who brings the added dimension of mobility.
Eagles defensive tackle Beau Allen had a locker next to Wilson during the quarterback’s last season at Wisconsin. What Wilson does now is what also made him so effective in college. What sets him apart is you don’t want to get him out of his rhythm.
“He’s not a rhythm thrower, really,” Allen said. “He likes to get out of the pocket and make plays, scramble around. He’ll be on the run doing pump fakes and he’s quick. He’s got real good poise. He never seems like he’s frantic or anything like that. He’s got this little back shoulder spinout that you see every week. He’s got nice moves.
“You’ve just got to know he’s going to do that and try to keep him in the pocket, know where he is at all times and not bite on his head fakes or pump fakes. And you just do whatever you can to get him down.”
The Seahawks also are bold on special teams. The Eagles have to account for Bobby Wagner, one of the top linebackers in the game, on each and every play. Wagner jumped over the center to block a kick against the Cardinals. Sherman comes off the edge in kick block. Kick returner Tyler Lockett is dynamic. It never ends.
“It just means we’ve got to start fast to keep them quiet,” Graham said. “We can’t give them any breathing room to get loud on us because at the end of the day we know that does play a role in the game. So we’ve just got to keep them out of it. I think it starts with us defensively. Hopefully we start the game off and we get off the field and put our offense in good situations. I’m just excited to go out there and get a chance to beat the Seattle Seahawks.”
Hopefully that excitement is shared by Graham’s teammates.