I bet with my head, not my heart. We try to tell it like it is here at the EYE, now going on 11 years of Eagles analysis and entertainment based on team loyalty. Perhaps our emotions have gotten the best of us at times over the years. But more often than not, those emotions have been negatively slanted toward the way some Eagles players were playing and some Eagles coaches were coaching.
The reality is you can’t totally separate your head from your heart if you’re a true die-hard fan. But you can try…even if it means giving the opposition their just due.
I give the Patriots their just due. They represent the best way you can run a franchise in the modern football era. You design a system in which even slightly above-average players can excel in sharply defined roles. You get rid of increasingly expensive players before they decline in performance capability.
But you hold on to Tom Brady, mostly because he designs your offense, and also because as a field general he keeps your team in every game.
Yes, I said he “designs” the Patriots offense—because he does. Every spring after the NFL Draft it is Tom Brady who draws up a diagram of the comprehensive offense he wants to run. He sends the plan to Bill Belichick, who in turn e-mails a copy of the master plan to all of his offensive coaching assistants.
That is the kind of cohesive intelligence the Eagles are up against today at Super Bowl 52. What we have to overcome is the rare moment in modern football history when the opponent’s actual offensive coordinator is the on-field quarterback.
That’s a huge obstacle. You haven’t seen that kind of OC leadership at QB since the days of John Unitas, Norm Van Brocklin, Bobby Layne and maybe Billy Kilmer.
To all of that, I still say if the Eagles play aggressively, play smart and have fun doing it, then Philly comes out on top, 26-20.
And yes, there will be a final drive by Brady in the final minutes of the game for the Birds’ defense to overcome in order to make that prediction stand up.
But if the refs let ’em play with the idea that the game should be decided by the most athletic performances in hand-to-hand combat, I believe we will hold the 26-20 edge at the end.
If I’m wrong, and say we get blown out or lose in embarrassing fashion due to a dumb mistake or three, I will bow out gracefully from the EYE. Someone else can lead you down the path of no return.
I’m reminded that General Dwight Eisenhower had two speeches written prior to the Allied Forces’ invasion of Normandy in 1944…one was a victory speech he tucked into his left breast pocket, the other was a concession of defeat he kept in his right.
That’s because Eisenhower was an experienced military realist. He understood both the strengths and weaknesses of his team. What he was betting upon was the heart of his team.
My head tells me that the Eagles have the heart to go toe-to-toe with Belichick, Brady and the Patriots.
You look at the matchups, and you see this:
Brady will want to run up-tempo stuff to stifle our superior D-Line rotation, and also call plays designed to make our linebackers chase guys all across the field. He will try to gas us.
So the Eagles will try to confuse Brady with different combinations of man and zone coverage. They will try to time a nasty blitz or two. Disguise is the key, but ultimately a big off-shore artillery shot from the Eagles pass rush will have to land against Brady’s turrets on the cliffs of Normandy.
Gronk is a red-zone matchup nightmare. If the Eagles double-cover the huge tight end, then things open up elsewhere for Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola. And besides, even double coverage on Gronk doesn’t mean he still won’t make a huge catch in traffic.
I trust the Eagles offense to match up well against the Patriots defense, providing we take care of the football, and catch everything Nick Foles throws that’s catchable. Just stay in the moment, block to your assignment, and gain confidence from moving the chains. Don’t try to be the hero. Just be a cog in the wheel that burns clock and keeps Brady off the field.
Special teams? Conservative is the key…avoid stepping on land mines. Be careful in decision-making. Watch out for those block-in-the-back penalties which negate potential returns. As for Jake Elliott and the classic Super Bowl pressure on FG attempts?—our hearts are with him. I do not envy his role in what could be the deciding plays in this game, but hit or miss, he is our tail-gunner. Godspeed to him.
I think the stage is set for a gritty Eagles win. Part of the drama within the game itself is how much fun it is for all of us (including the players and coaches) to be included in this momentary spotlight in the history of the sport. All of us have earned this moment in the sun.
We are once again grateful for having Ryan Lubrich’s alternative live game thread available to us.
Here’s a link to his live in-game talk show if you wish to give it a look:
As Ryan explains, it’s like a chat channel, primarily used by like-gamers who stream on Twitch, but he figured we might be able to use it for gameday chats. I have found it to be very functional and very entertaining. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of some of the whistles and bells, but after a short while I was zooming along with the other EYE guys and Bored members there talking Eagles football. It even auto-refreshes on every comment!
Okay, good luck to us all. It’s been a long way to the top…let’s rock’n’roll.