Hosting the Seattle Seahawks in a playoff game in January of 2020? Yes, it’s happening. But don’t celebrate like you’re just happy to be here. The ‘Hawks are mad as hell they lost to the 49ers on Sunday and are forced to travel here. They are determined to wreck our grand illusion of resurrection from what looked like a shipwrecked 2019.
Gladly sipping from the handcrafted Dented Brick Gin sent to me from Salt Lake City by The Great JB99, I am a grateful man. The booze is crystal clear with its Artesian well base and lovely juniper flavor. It’s far too good for my working class pedigree. Perhaps this was TGJB99’s way of saying enjoy the Eagles’ NFC East title while you can. The reality of playoff reckoning is about to hit like…well, like a dented brick.
Oh, we can beat the Seahawks. And we can land a man on the moon. It just doesn’t happen that often.
Russell Wilson is 4-0 in his career against the Eagles, throwing seven touchdown passes and only one interception. His escapability is legendary in the NFL, and the Eagles have had more than their fair share of near misses and empty armfuls against the mobile Wilson. On November 24, the Eagles had their best performance against Wilson – recording six quarterback sacks, limiting him to 200 passing yards – and still lost the game, 17-9.
DC Jim Schwartz called a whale of a game against the Giants last Sunday, but knows defending against the Seahawks is a bit of a different challenge.
“Wilson’s a smart quarterback. He doesn’t turn the ball over very often. He’s got great mobility. He can extend plays, but he can also just make his plays from the pocket. He’s a very accurate passer,” Schwartz said. “All those things will be factors in the game that we’re going to have to defend. You don’t bring your resume to the field. You bring your skill set and we’re going to bring ours and we’re going to play hard.
“We don’t change a whole lot from week to week. I think he probably had a good idea what we were going to do when we faced them the first time. It’s the playoffs. There is probably not a whole lot of surprises going to go on on either side of the ball. It’ll be about execution. It’ll be about teamwork. It’ll be about toughness, fundamentals. I think those things will have more to do with the game than them coming up with something new or us coming up with something new.”
In that November game, the Seahawks scored their touchdowns on a flea-flicker throw from Wilson and a 59-yard run from running back Rashaad Penny. A lot has changed with Seattle’s offense since then. The offensive backfield has been decimated by injury and now the Seahawks use rookie Travis Homer (10 carries, 62 yards rushing, five catches, 30 yards receiving last week), Marshawn Lynch (12 carries, 34 yards, and a touchdown in his Beast Mode return to Seattle in Week 17), and Robert Turbin in the running game. Third receiver Josh Gordon is on the NFL’s suspended list. Seattle’s offensive line has been banged up.
But as Dave Spadaro objectively explains: “…the Seahawks still get it done offensively. They shrugged off a poor first half in Sunday night’s loss against San Francisco and came back with three straight touchdown drives and finished just inches short of a fourth scoring drive and a victory. Rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf caught 58 passes for 900 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Tyler Lockett is a problem. Seattle uses its tight ends as well as any team in the league. And then there’s Wilson, Wilson, Wilson, who uses the run game to set up his bootleg run/pass options and his play-action passing game.”
The Eagles know they have to be aware of everything – trick plays, improvisational Wilson moments, and a physical running game. Schwartz himself sounded just like GK Brizer when he broke it down to this:
“When it’s all said and done, it’s blocking and tackling and execution and that will carry us a lot longer on Sunday than anything new we put in,” Schwartz said. “Every week you have different wrinkles and different things that you set up from the time before or things that you’re shoring up or things you’re changing on offense and defense. Everybody does that. But I think this is going to be more of a player’s game.”
Which is the ultimate key to any playoff game— to wit, it’s the singer, not the song.