As the end of the Andy Reid era approaches, it is also a new beginning for Eagles fans. We have seen our beloved Eagles go through some bad times, but not quite like this. Sure, the Rodney Peete and Bobby Hoying years were bad, but at least they tried. This team is showing no heart, or no passion. The exact opposite of what this team, and this city stands for. Good news is on the horizon though, as a “cancer” in the locker room Jim Washburn is fired, and disgruntled defensive end Jason Babin was cut two weeks ago. Maybe now, with the addition of Tommy Brasher, the defense will play with pride, for what it has been lacking all season long. Tommy Brasher has promised to squash the infamous “wide 9″ that has plagued the Eagles for the last two years. This is not a fix, but definitely a step in the right direction. Also, the Eagles enter the game vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a new safety: special teams ace, Colt Anderson. Colt is not a pro bowl safety, but what he has shown is smart play and ability to make tackles. Kurt Coleman has had trouble his entire career with both.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come into Sunday’s game with a 6-6 record, even though they lost their last two games. The Bucs are quietly a good team, having won four in a row this season and being competitive with the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos. Their game plan has always been around QB Josh Freeman and RB Doug Martin, but with the struggles in the Eagles secondary, expect WR Vincent Jackson to be targeted early and often. Vincent Jackson, a former Charger, has plenty of experience playing against CB Nnamdi Asomugha, as they were in the same division for the last half decade. As we all know, Nnamdi is struggling this year, and covering the 6″5 mammoth of a receiver will not be an easy task. Look for Josh Freeman and Vincent Jackson pace the offense.
Running back Doug Martin, a rookie out of Boise State, has already gotten Ray Rice comparisons. Although the “Muscle Hamster” is having a great season, he has struggled of late. He and his coaches suggest he has not hit the rookie wall, but one must assume otherwise. Martin’s career high in carries at Boise State was 263, and this was against sub par NCAA defenses, and he already has 236 carries this season. Although the Eagles defense has been abysmal in the last month and a half, they have yet to allow a 100 yard rusher this season. That speaks volumes about how the Bucs will try to attack the Eagles this Sunday.
On defense, the Buccaneers are in the same boat as the Eagles. They rank dead last in the NFL in passing defense (309 yards per game) but are first in rushing defense (82 yards per game). The Bucs front office has focused on the defensive line in the draft the last few years, and it is showing. A talented group up front boasts three former first round picks in Gerald McCoy, Adrian Clayborn, and DaQuan Bowers. This group has certainly contained the run, with great help from another great young player in rookie LB from Nebraska: Lavonte David. Look for the Eagles to use the short passing game and screens to get these guys moving to the sideline, taking out of their game inside the tackle box.
Our Eagles offense has also been bad this year, but in the last few weeks, we have seen signs of life. Rookie QB Nick Foles showed his potential last week vs the Cowboys by completing 69% of his passes while reading a lot of blitzes. Exactly what we want to see from Foles, who as of now, is our starting QB for next season. The real story here is whether or not the continued dominance of rookie running back Bryce Brown can continue against the Bucs stout run defense. Brown has been nothing short of spectacular the last two weeks filling in for star RB LeSean McCoy. Over the course of two games, Bryce Brown has had 43 carries 347 yards and 4 TDs. If one thinks this is just a fluke and NFL teams have not seen enough tape on him, they must not have watched this kid run. He has great top end speed as is a downhill runner. But what I think sets him apart is his tremendous vision to see a hole and hit it. There was a play last week on a draw play where he ran across formation and as soon as he saw left guard Evan Mathis seal an edge, he cut back and gained 22 yards for the first down. If this kid can hold on to the ball consistently, the Eagles will have the best 1-2 punch in the NFL next year.
The defense has been futile since Todd Bowles has taken over, but I do not believe it is all on him, the secondary just flat-out can not play. Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque Rodger-Cromartie have been disappointments for the last ten games, and the safeties are being called “the worst ever” by local media. Hopefully with the deletion of the wide 9, the secondary can play tougher. They will need to be in top shape on Sunday if they want to hold Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams down, and ultimately win the game.
I see the Eagles pulling out a win this week. Nick Foles will continue to progress, and I think with Tommy Brasher, the defensive line can get to Josh Freeman, and forcing him out of the pocket. This will allow the Eagles secondary to be more physical, and help the Eagles pull out their first win since the Phillies season ended.
27-23 Eagles. Nick Foles 24-37 280 yds 2 TD 1 INT. Bryce Brown 21 carries 103 yards 2 TD. Riley Cooper 5 catches 72 yards 1 TD.Tags: National Football League, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers