Week 12 Preview: Seahawks @ Eagles

Date & Time: November 30th – 8:15 P.M.

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Network: ESPN

Injury Report:

  • Philadelphia: Zach Ertz (OUT), Lane Johnson (OUT), Rudy Ford (OUT), Craig James (OUT), Sua Opeta (OUT), Jason Peters (Questionable)
  • Seattle: Travis Homer (OUT), Brandon Shell (OUT), Kyle Fuller (Questionable), David Moore (Questionable), D.J. Reed (Questionable), Jordan Simmons (Questionable), Freddie Swain (Questionable)

The Philadelphia Eagles currently stand at 3-6-1. Amid a week filled with quarterback change rumors, coaching hot seat rumors, fan discontent and an overall disappointing campaign, there is a game to play. The Seattle Seahawks travel to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles. Seattle has won the last six meetings between the two teams.

Seattle Overview

The Seahawks come into this game off a win over the Arizona Cardinals. A win that saw the Seattle defense somewhat regain its form in what has been a bit of a down year for a defense that is usually in the top half of the league.

The Seattle defense currently ranks 27th in total defense and 4th against the run. However, that total ranking is heavily bogged down by the pass defense which ranks 32nd out of 32 teams. As stated, last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals was a game that saw the defense rebound. Seattle held Cardinals quarterback, Kyler Murray, to 6.4 yards per completion (compared to 7.5 in the first matchup), 15 yards on the ground (compared to 67 first matchup), and 6.4 intended air yards (compared to 8.6 in the first matchup). Seattle’s defense also brought 13 more blitzes (Per Pro Football Reference) on Murray in the second matchup. This equated to 3 sacks (compared to 0 in the first matchup). But overall what Seattle’s week 11 performance shows is that defensive coordinator, Ken Norton will bring pressure and he and Pete Carroll may have found a formula that works.

Seattle’s offense is of course led by Russell Wilson at QB. Wilson is a QB that has given Jim Schwartz fits during his tenure as Eagles defensive coordinator. Either through the air or with his legs, Schwartz’s defenses have struggled to contain the 9th year Wisconsin product. Because of the Eagles deficiencies at linebacker, this trend is inclined to continue. However, there are two ways to combat this: 1) Bring safety Will Parks down into the box and use him as a linebacker and QB spy on Wilson or 2) Increase rookie Davion Taylor’s snaps. Taylor possesses aggressive and fierce pursuit ability, as well as 4.49 40 time as a linebacker. Considering, Taylor hasn’t played a ton in his rookie season, I’d like to believe Schwartz will use Parks more in the box over Taylor.

Elsewhere for the Seattle offense, their wideout duo of D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will present PROBLEMS for the Eagles secondary. Also, running back Chris Carson is expected to be back in the lineup after missing 4 games with a foot injury.

Eagles Overview

The Philadelphia Eagles passing offense is one of the (if not the) tougher passing offenses to watch in the league. Ranking 28th in the league, this unit is struggling.

The unit ranks 28th in YPG, 30th in completion percentage, and 24th in yards per completion.

In the running game, Miles Sanders has been proficient but that’s when he’s given the opportunity. This may be because the Eagles are trailing in games so often, however, taking the ball out of your top playmaker’s hands isn’t a formula for success. In totality, Sanders isn’t getting the ball nearly enough. Even in the passing game, Sanders could be used more.

For Carson Wentz, this will be the first time he’s facing the Seattle defense since he was knocked out of his playoff debut by former Seattle defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with a concussion. This game presents a chance at redemption for Wentz. Since that January playoff game, Wentz’s on field play has declined greatly and although they may be on the up-tick, a matchup against the league’s 32nd ranked passing defense may be just what he needs to regain form.

3 Matchups to Watch

  1. Eagles Cornerbacks backs vs. Seattle wide receivers

Darius Slay is likely to follow D.K. Metcalf all evening on Monday night. That leaves either Avonte Maddox or Nickell Robey-Coleman to cover Tyler Lockett, who lines up both outside and in the slot. Lockett leads the Seahawks in targets and Maddox leads all Eagles cornerbacks in yards allowed per catch (13.0). Nickell Robey-Coleman leads all Eagles cornerbacks in passer rating allowed when targeted with 113.8. Even David Moore can present problems against the Philadelphia secondary with his 14 yards per reception average this season. This is a bad matchup for the Eagles cornerbacks outisde of Darius Slay

2. Seattle Cornerbacks vs. Eagles wide receivers

If the Eagles passing attack is to get going, this is the matchup to do it. As stated, the Seattle passing defense is the 32nd ranked unit in the league. Yes, they showed improvement last week but after all that is just one game and they have yet to consistently do so. Seattle’s three starting corners, Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, and Ugo Amadi in the slot, have not been good. The trio gives up an average 100.7 passer rating in coverage. Griffin and Flowers in particular give up over 10 yards per completion. The matchup to watch in this one will be Jalen Reagor against the returning Griffin. Both players possess blazing speed and high verticals. It should be an entertaining matchup.

3. Eagles offensive line vs Seattle defensive line

The Seahawks defensive line, specifically Carlos Dunlap has come alive since the addition of Dunlap. Seattle has 16 sacks since acquiring Dunlap, after having just nine in the first six games of the season. This is the same Carlos Dunlap who wrecked Jason Peters in the Eagles week 3 matchup with the Bengals. Since then, the Eagles offensive line has also undergone several changes. The latest, being the biggest.

Along the offensive line, it was announced on Saturday morning that the Eagles will be without tackle, Lane Johnson for the remainder of the season, due to an ankle injury that has kept Johnson in and out of the lineup for majority of this season. This will be the Eagles 10th different O-line combination in 11 games. Jason Peters will be moving to right guard alongside Matt Pryor who now starts at right tackle. This opens the door for Jordan Mialata to return to left tackle, where he displayed great development earlier in the season.

Keys to the game

  • Offense
    • The Eagles wideouts matchup well with the Seattle cornerbacks because of their speed. Seattle primarily operates out of cover 3 looks but the difference between their cover 3 defense and others is the mix of man and zone it contains after the snap. If the Eagles can get any of the outside corners, who may be in man, isolated then the speed of the Eagles wide receivers should be able to exploit their lack of ability to cover downfield.
    • The way to exploit the Seattle defense is the use of eye candy. Before and after the snap. This means the use of motion and route concepts that create traffic in order to open up spots in the zone coverage of the defense.
    • A calling card of Ken Norton’s defense is aggressiveness. In 2020, his defense has brought the 4th most blitzes this season. The key for this Eagles offense is quick throws. Not the long developing route concepts Doug Pederson has called for most of this season. There have been reports that the offense has been simplified for both Carson Wentz and the young wideouts, and if there was any game to ever do this, this is definitely the game to implement this.
  • Defense
    • Linebacker discipline will be key for the Eagles against Russell Wilson, who is a threat to run every time the ball is snapped. A spy will almost likely be used majority of the time that Seattle’s offense is on the field and eye discipline will be one of the main things to key on for this defense against a QB of Wilson’s caliber.
    • Jim Schwartz will have to keep help over the top of whoever is guarding Tyler Lockett at all times. The quick twitch athlete is a threat to score deep whenever he is on the field. Having a corner like Darius Slay is a huge benefit in this one because as a coordinator, you can trust that he’ll be able to hold his own against a talent like Metcalf.

Coaching

Doug Pederson may very well be feeling the heat. At 3-6-1, any coach would. If Pederson wants to prevent this let-down of a season continue, then he has to do everything is his power to coach and call a game that will allow his players to succeed. If Miles Sanders is moving via the ground, stick with it. If Carson Wentz is moving the offense in a no-huddle series, stick with it. The overall point is to not go away from what is working, but honestly, what has Pederson shown this year to show he’s truly capable of doing this?

Prediction

The Eagles have lost the last six matchups against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seattle defense is finding its footing and the Eagles passing offense is just not good. Sure, you can say this is a “get right” game for this offense, but wasn’t the Dallas matchup supposed to be that as well? Maybe against the 32nd ranked passing defense they can figure it out.

Even the area where the Eagles have moved the ball somewhat, on the ground, may very well likely be taken away by Seattle’s 4th ranked rushing defense. Ultimately, the game of football comes down to matchups and this isn’t a good matchup at all for Philadelphia offensively or defensively in my honest opinion. Yes, it’s a any given Sunday (Monday in this instance) league, but this one just screams Seattle win.

Pick: Eagles 17, Seahawks 27

Stats via Pro Football Reference

Author: Pierre Baptiste Jr.

I am the creator of The Philly Blitz and I am committed to delivering innovative and interesting coverage on both the Eagles and Sixers. Contact Information: Twitter - @pierreb3_ Email: pierrotjr3@gmail.com

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