Ea­gles look­ing to ground Sea­hawks

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Bob Grotz

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.

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