The Philadelphia Eagles are a bit of a surprise to me this season. After being viewed as one of the three worst teams in the NFL coming into the year the City of Brotherly Love is still hanging around. A pair of wins over the Falcons and Panthers have the Eagles tied for second place in the NFC East.
Now the Buccaneers sail north for a Thursday night showdown. It’s true that the Buccaneers are far better on paper. However, a Thursday night game on the road is always difficult. Here’s what you need to know about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next opponent.
The strength of the Eagles defense is their defensive line. Not just because the Philadelphia defense is bad everywhere else, but this is one of the better groups at this position league wide.
Javon Hargrave is one of the better defensive tackles in football. He may not look imposing at 6’1 and 300 lbs, but he is a dominant force. He currently ranks 4th in the NFL with 6 sacks.
Alongside him is six time pro bowler Fletcher Cox. This interior duo is complemented by 2017 first round pick Derek Barnett and former Florida State star Josh Sweat. Keeping this group at bay, particularly inside, will be critical for the offense.
For an offense that’s scored two or fewer touchdowns in more than half their games this year, there’s actually some talent in terms of playmakers. The Eagles have drafted a wide receiver in the first round in each of the last two drafts. Jalen Reagor is a burner with big play potential. Devonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy last year and is as polished of a rookie that you’ll see for a while.
Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are a strong tight end duo. Ertz has had 800+ receiving yards in five of his eight seasons coming into this year. Running back Miles Sanders hasn’t broken out with a 1,000 rushing season in his young career due to a lack of volume carries. However, the third year back does average 4.9 yards per carry and has proven to be a capable pass catcher out of the backfield.
In terms of weapons, the Eagles are not lacking in talent.
Back Seven Blues
Without looking it up, how many starters in the Eagles back seven can you name besides Darius Slay? I’m guessing that the answer to that isn’t very many. This is an underwhelming group of linebackers and defensive backs to say the least.
The Eagles defense ranks third worst in rushing defense and fourth worst in pass defense. My in depth analysis: that’s not good. Expect this group to struggle in every aspect.
Hurts So Good Or Just Hurts?
Starting quarterback Jalen Hurts is getting his shot this year. After starting four games last year as a rookie, Hurts is now the main man in Philadelphia. Like many young quarterbacks, we have seen mixed results.
Hurts is a dangerous runner first and foremost. He’s not to the level of a guy like Cam Newton or Lamar Jackson, but his legs are what make him effective.
As a passer, Hurts is somewhat erratic. His accuracy is inconsistent and he can have trouble finding the open man. Some of these flaws are natural for a young quarterback, but these are largely problems he had during his college career as well.
If the Buccaneers can prevent Hurts from gashing them on the ground then the Eagles may struggle to move the ball.
The Buccaneers won’t have an actual practice this week. Considering the short week plus the travel time to get to Philadelphia, it will just be a few walk through. However, the real problem is the quick turnaround for a banged up Buccaneers team.
Tampa Bay had one member of their normal starting secondary play on Sunday and we saw star linebacker Lavonte David go down with an ankle injury. Adding, guys like Jason Pierre-Paul, Rob Gronkowski and Tom Brady are all dealing with injuries as well.
Three days rest isn’t enough for anyone, let alone for a team with a lot of injuries. This could turn what some view as an easy win into a dog fight. After all, let us not forget what happened to the Buccaneers in Chicago on Thursday night last year.
There are reasons why this game could be close. With that said, I’d be lying if I told you that I think it will be. Philadelphia struggles to score and they struggle stopping anyone.
The Buccaneers should be able to do whatever they want in this game. Even without being healthy on a short week, I would be surprised if they don’t win this game by two touchdowns.
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