Giving credit where it is due, congrats to GK Brizer for nailing a prediction on the Ravens-Bengals game Thursday night—he called it 29-24 Bengals, an amazingly accurate foreshadowing of the actual final score which was 34-23. Had the Ravens not disdained a PAT for a failed 2-point conversion try, and had the Bengals not benefited from a defensive holding call in the final minutes of the game, the ultimate winning score could easily have been 28-24.
Anyway, the lesson to be learned by the Eagles from that game is to have a better plan in place than the Ravens defense did when/if your signal-calling inside linebacker gets knocked out of the game early. C.J. Mosley is the Ravens’ version of Jordan Hicks. When Mosley got carted off the field in the opening minutes of the 1st quarter, there was confusion evident in the defensive calls made by his replacement— inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor.
In three drives after Mosley left with a knee injury, Baltimore allowed three touchdowns. Andy Dalton picked apart the linebackers and the corners with a 3-step-drop quick release RPO attack that of course featured the fabulous receiver A.J. Green.
“We were kind of just scrambling around when he went out. Some guys didn’t even know that he was out,” said cornerback Marlon Humphrey.
OLB Terrell Suggs admitted there was some initial confusion when Mosley went out. The Bengals scored on 4 consecutive possessions and the Ravens never caught up.
Ultimately Ravens veteran safety Eric Weddle took over the responsibility for calling the defensive signals, and things settled down to at least a competent defense after that. Did the Ravens err in not immediately having Weddle wear the helmet with the headset that Mosley normally wears?
I would say there is a lesson for the Eagles in all this, although I’d like to believe they already have a better backup plan in place than the Ravens did. Who puts on the defensive helmet with the headset if Hicks goes down? My guess is it would immediately be transferred to safety Malcolm Jenkins, who basically spends a lot of his snaps in a pseudo-linebacker slot anyway.
Heading into Tampa Bay, you can be sure the Bucs will exploit any level of confusion or miscommunication by the Eagles defense.
Last week the Bucs played without Jameis Winston on offense and cornerback Brent Grimes on defense. They didn’t run the ball well at all, but it didn’t matter as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick – using his arm and his legs – carved up the Saints’ defense. They’ll have to evaluate some injuries from the win, notably a concussion suffered by DeSean Jackson and a shoulder injury sustained by cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, but Fitzpatrick was brilliant last Sunday in New Orleans.
“The talent level in that huddle, guys who can go up and make plays, it’s a pretty special group,” said Fitzpatrick.
Looking at the updated depth chart for Tampa Bay’s offense, here are the folks Fitzpatrick is referring to:
|LWR||11||JACKSON, DESEAN U/Was||12||Godwin, Chris 17/3||16||Martino, Freddie SF16|
|RWR||13||Evans, Mike 14/1||10||Humphries, Adam CF15||17||Watson, Justin 18/5|
|LT||76||Smith, Donovan 15/2||67||Liedtke, Michael SF16|
|LG||74||Marpet, Ali 15/2|
|C||66||Jensen, Ryan U/Bal||62||SMITH, EVAN U/GB|
|RG||77||Benenoch, Caleb 16/5||65||Cappa, Alex 18/3|
|RT||69||DOTSON, DEMAR CF09||61||Wester, Leonard CF16|
|TE||84||Brate, Cameron CF14||82||Auclair, Antony CF17|
|TE||80||Howard, OJ 17/1||45||Cross, Alan CF16|
|QB||14||FITZPATRICK, RYAN SF17||4||Griffin, Ryan W/NO|
|RB||25||Barber, Peyton CF16||32||Rodgers, Jacquizz SF16||27||Jones, Ronald 18/2|