There is no doubt that the Eagles have their work cut out for them this week as they face the high powered Denver Broncos on the road. While many people want to write off the Eagles, the NFL sees upsets every week, and when you have an offense like Philadelphia you are always a threat. Here are the 5 things the Eagles have to do if they want to come away with the victory:
After the Redskins game I thought McCoy should maybe see a slight decrease in carries. But if the Eagles want to win this game, McCoy is going to need at least 30 touches in this game, many of them running plays. McCoy is such a weapon and just a complete mismatch once he gets in the open field. The Eagles are doing a great job giving him opportunities and they need to keep running him.
Now typically you would think the Eagles should slow their tempo to eat clock versus an elite quarterback, but that isn’t the answer here. If the Eagles try to do that they are more apt to make a mistake on their own. The Eagles need to keep the tempo up high to hopefully completely wear down that defense for late in the game. If the Eagles are going to win they need rack up the points, and they do that with an up tempo approach and McCoy tearing up this Broncos defense. This is a good match-up for him and one that he should be able to exploit for some big gains.
Even if the Eagles were fully healthy (it looks like Chung will be out) and were playing better against the pass, this would be a tough test for their defense. Peyton Manning is so good at reading defenses and feeling the pass rush that he infuriates elite units. The Eagles can’t worry about limiting Manning’s yardage in this game, instead they need to try to bend but not break defensively.
Let Manning rack up the yardage, but defend that goal line and force them to go for some field goals. Now you won’t be able to do that every time, but if you do it enough the Eagles have the type of offense that you are willing to trade field goals for touchdowns with. The Eagles have to make sure they don’t get beat deep, or miss crucial tackles leading to big scores. They have to make Manning work harder for those touchdowns, and that could even lead to a rare Manning turnover.
Look slowing down or stopping the Broncos passing game is basically a pipe dream, but where the Eagles can have an advantage is stopping the Broncos 3 man rushing attack. The Eagles haven’t done great versus the run, but they’ve done better than versus the pass.
If they can stop or limit the run, in conjunction with preventing Manning from getting into the end zone, they can force some field goals and that could be enough to win the game. It won’t be an easy task as the Broncos have three capable running back and a solid offensive line, but the Eagles should try to make that a focus.
The test will be if they can limit the ground game without completely selling out and making it too easy for Peyton Manning. The key here is to force some third and longs and then hope to get some stops.
We saw last year that the Broncos can get exposed vertically in the playoff game against the Ravens. The Eagles should try to find ways to get DeSean Jackson isolated one-on-one and send him deep. With the Eagles rushing threat and play action they could catch the Broncos napping.
Also this would be the perfect game to get Damaris Johnson involved. Johnson is an extremely quick small receiver who could create some mismatches, but thus far he’s not really seen the field. I know the Eagles want Riley Cooper in there to help block, but he’s not been any real threat as a receiver. Johnson is a guy who will be a much bigger threat to the Broncos secondary. He can be an explosive playmaker and is another guy who can challenge deep.
This is the type of game where the Eagles need to dig into Chip Kelly’s playbook for a number of trick plays. The Eagles have lost the past two games and are on the road, so now is not the time to be conservative with the Eagles play calling. No one is giving the Eagles a chance in this game so you really have nothing to lose by trying a couple creative plays.
Now perhaps the “swinging gate” plays should be retired, but they should be able to come up with some things that the Broncos aren’t expecting. This may be the game to try a LeSean McCoy wildcat package as well. I’d also look to line up DeSean Jackson in the backfield some to show a different look and create mismatches.