EA­GLES

The Morning Call (Sunday) - - EAGLES GAMEDAY - [email protected] Twit­ter @nick­fierro 610-778-2243

like that's when we're at our best — when we're giv­ing the runs op­por­tu­ni­ties, and some­times it takes a while for the runs to open up and be im­pact­ful.

“There's ob­vi­ously play-ac­tion passes that are mar­ried to those runs and they have an im­pact. … We were able to hit some of those throws down the field and change field po­si­tion and cre­ate scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Now, as they pre­pare for the NFL's sec­ond-best run de­fense — Chicago is No. 1 — they know what they must do.

“It's sim­i­lar to last week,” cen­ter Ja­son Kelce said. “They don't re­ally have a weak­ness. … More than any­thing, they re­ally play well to­gether, they're well­coached, they play hard, they play phys­i­cal and they fly around and they play to­gether, they play as one unit.

“So they do a lot of good things struc­turally, they do a lot of things from an ef­fort stand­point. And when­ever you com­bine those two things along with good play­ers, you're go­ing to have a good de­fense.”

Kelce is not a pro­po­nent of stick­ing with the run when it's not work­ing, how­ever.

“The bet­ter we've been able to run the ball, the bet­ter our of­fense has tended to fare,” he said, “but if the run is not work­ing, if I'm the head coach, I'm not call­ing run plays any­more.”

The key for the Ea­gles in this re­match is not al­low­ing them­selves to get to this point, even though they have a quar­ter­back now in Foles who has been much more suc­cess­ful re­cently than Wentz has ever been in games skewed by lop­sided run-pass ra­tios.

The Ea­gles are just 2-10 when Wentz has been forced to throw 40 or more passes, in­clud­ing 0-2 this sea­son.

By con­trast, they are 3-1 in the same sit­u­a­tion with Foles since his re­turn to the Ea­gles in 2017, in­clud­ing his last two play­off games (25-for-40 vs. Chicago last week and 28-for-43 vs. New Eng­land in Su­per Bowl LII).

Nev­er­the­less, they'd pre­fer not to have to go there with any quar­ter­back.

And who can blame them?

That's just not a pre­ferred route, even in to­day's wide-open game.

That said, the Ea­gles are go­ing to need a lot more than seven points to come away with a dif­fer­ent out­come this time around.

A lot more.

They're prob­a­bly go­ing to have to win a track meet with less of­fen­sive fire­power than the Saints, whose of­fense starts with the NFL's all-time lead­ing passer, Drew Brees, and fea­tures a vast ar­ray of re­ceivers and backs who com­ple­ment him per­fectly.

Pulling the strings on that op­er­a­tion is per­haps the finest play-caller of this era in coach Sean Pay­ton.

Ea­gles de­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Jim Schwartz is just happy that the score­board has been re­set as his new­fan­gled unit, which has lost four starters, has ad­justed to the short­ages.

“When it's all said and done,” Schwartz said, “nei­ther team is go­ing to start this game with a lead and nei­ther team is go­ing to start with an ad­van­tage be­cause of some­thing that hap­pened, it seems, like an­other sea­son ago, at least to us. Each game is go­ing to start out new and we're go­ing to have to play good for 60 min­utes in this game, not make up for any­thing that hap­pened eight weeks ago and not get down about any­thing that hap­pened.”

DAVID BANKS/AP

Since his re­turn to the team in 2017, Ea­gles quar­ter­back Nick Foles (9) is 3-1 in games where he has thrown more than 40 times, in­clud­ing his last two play­off games. He went 25-for-40 ver­sus Chicago last week and 28-for-43 vs. New Eng­land in Su­per Bowl LII.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.