Haha, not really, just a satirical jab at the Big Media guys who boil their game previews down to “5 things to watch”… Sometimes I think they do this because they underestimate our intelligence and attention span capacities as fans. I mean, how could we possibly focus on more than 5 things at one sitting?
The fact is, when you figure there are about 150 play snaps in every game, and any combination of two or three things can go wrong on every snap, you really are looking at closer to 500 individual performances (good or bad) which can influence the outcome of a game.
But if you have to make a living by meeting a deadline for your network’s broadcast or publication, I guess “5 things” is about the limit of attention you can give to a regular-season game pre-analysis.
Nearly all the Big Media types are hyping the “revenge factor” for the Vikings in this one, you know, ’cause the Eagles whipped them pretty badly in the NFC Championship game last time they met. I simply don’t buy into that hype at all. Both teams have bigger fish to fry right now, like wiping away the bad tastes in their mouths from getting spanked in their previous regular-season games. The Vikings got destroyed by the Rams in prime-time last Thursday, and the Eagles coughed up a hairball in a loss to the Titans last Sunday.
Also showing up prominently in the “5 Things” list is the focus on the Eagles’ new safety rotation with the absence of Rodney McLeod. Everyone’s wringing their hands with worry over this if you are to believe the Big Media. But me? I think Avonte Maddox will do just fine.
All-Pro safety Malcolm Jenkins also moved from corner to safety in the NFL and has offered guidance. And Maddox himself had no hesitation about the move:
“Avonte, kind of being that next DB up, has to learn a multitude of positions,” Jenkins said. “But he has an opportunity as a young, explosive player to fit in with everyone on the squad. So it’s a good thing, just trying to get him to learn the safety spot, nickel, maybe dime, so that we have flexibility based on who we play and get on the field.”
The “5 things” Maddox is focused on?—“Angles, leverage, position, timing, tackling, things like that,” Maddox said. “Even in the red zone, everything happens quick. It’s just a different position. You’ve got to approach it a different way.”
Another “5 Things” chart-topper is the Kirk Cousins vs. Carson Wentz angle.
Yes, Cousins had been successful against the Eagles in seven starts for Washington. He had thrown for 2,122 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions while going 4-3 in those games. But now he is playing behind arguably the worst offensive line in the NFL, based upon the first four games of the season.
And Carson Wentz has been getting his share of pressures, sacks and frustration due to lack of protection, too. So unless one team or the other steps up its pass-pro in a big way, you could argue that Cousins and Wentz will in effect cancel each other out.
”It’s a great environment, a great place to play an NFL football game on a Sunday afternoon. Great crowd,” Cousins said of the upcoming match at the Linc. ”I’ve had my fair share of battles there. Some have come out victorious, some have come out as the loser. It will be a great test for us.”
Another popular “5 Things” item has been the “Spies Everywhere” bit about Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo being Philadelphia’s quarterbacks coach the past two seasons. He’s quite familiar with Wentz and coach Doug Pederson’s system. But the Eagles already beat former offensive coordinator Frank Reich and the Colts in Week 3.
”The same as going against Frank, some of the terminology, some of the calls, maybe hand signals, whatever it may be that he knows,” Pederson said. ”Listen, he’s a smart guy, but he’s also preparing his team to get ready to play. I think that’s where his focus is right now this week.”
In other words, not that big a deal. After all, everyone at Lambeau Field used to know when the Green Bay power sweep was coming. Nobody could stop it anyway.
In case you’re wondering what Jimmy Kempski’s “5 Things” are, here’s a summary of his entire article:
1) The Eagles’ run defense vs. Dalvin Cook and the Vikings’ rushing attack
2) The Vikings’ talented receivers vs. the Eagles struggling secondary
3) The Eagles’ defensive line vs. the Vikings shaky offensive line
4) Alshon Jeffery vs. Xavier Rhodes
5) The Eagles’ offensive line vs. the Vikings’ blitzing defense
That last one is a legitimate hook for me. If you remember, our guys picked up the blitz beautifully in the NFC Championship game, and they kept Nick Foles upright the entire game. Last week against the Titans, just the opposite happened, and Carson Wentz was hammered.
“There’s three aspects really of picking up the blitz,” center Jason Kelce explained. “One, being in the correct situation. Two, communicating it. And three, everybody executing it. I think if you look back at that Titans game, we did not handle any of those three facets well.”
That’s why I will be focused on Eagles’ blitz-pickup all day long. If there really are 500 things that have to go right to win a game, that one’s at the top of my list.
By the way, here is your recommended “DOMO” dose of analytic reading for extra credit:
Last season, the Eagles led the league in red zone offense, scoring touchdowns on over 65 percent of their trips inside their opponents’ 20-yard-line. This season, through four games, the team ranks 16th. It’s that missing efficiency in high-leverage situations that could be holding the Eagles back, writes beat reporter Paul Domowitch. “[Situational football] is something we stress in the offseason,” Wentz said. “It’s something we stress during the week. Obviously, we had a lot of success with that last year. But this isn’t last year.” Read More