Week 5: Eagles Preview & Prediction: At Panthers

Date & Time: October 10th – 1 p.m. ET

Location: Charlotte, NC – Bank of America Stadium

Network: Fox

  • Philadelphia Eagles Injury Report
    • OUT
      • RT Lane Johnson (Personal Matter)
  • Carolina Panthers Injury Report
    • OUT
      • LB Shaq Thompson (Lower Body Injury)
      • LT Cameron Irving (Neck)
    • Doubtful
      • RB Christian McCaffrey
    • Questionable
      • DE Yetur Gross-Matos (Ankle)

Matchup Preview

The Eagles come into this game at 1-3, losers of 3 straight. The Carolina Panthers come into this game at 3-1, with their most recent loss coming at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys.

Philadelphia was able to find their footing offensively a week ago, scoring 30 points and racking up over 460 yards of offense. Their defense, however, sputtered. The usual bend-don’t-break system implored by Jonathan Gannon, completely crumbled for the second week in a row.

The Carolina Panthers are led by former Temple University head coach, Matt Rhule, and former Jets first round pick, Sam Darnold. The latter of which has 5 rushing TDs on the year. Considering that Christian McCaffrey is doubtful for this contest, the Eagles should be able to take away the run and make Carolina one dimensional to an extent.

Carolina sports a fierce and fast defense that ranks 4th in called blitzes, 3rd in QB hurries per dropback, and 1st in pressure rate per drop back. Simply put, this defense can get after the opposing quarterback.

For the Eagles, this game will come down to whether or not Jonathan Gannon has an ace up his sleeve to get the Eagles defense back on track.

Carolina will be without it’s starting left tackle, strong safety, starting linebacker, and quite possibly their “All-Pro” running back, Christian McCaffrey. The Eagles will definitely have a real shot at stealing this game on the road.

4 Things to Watch for the Eagles

1) The Performance of Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts has had his highs and lows as the Eagles starting QB. In other words, he’s just like every other young NFL starting QB (Reminder: Hurts is making his 8th career start). Hurts was able to come alive and shred a porus Kansas City defense to the tune of 387 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, and 47 yards rushing.

For Hurts, the level of confidence that both fans and individuals behind the scenes have in him are fully dependent on his play, this is especially true this year. The most important thing for Hurts to showcase in this game against a defense that can be had, specifically on the outside at corner, is consistency.

2) The Eagles WRs vs Carolina’s DBs

This is a secondary that is missing it’s first round draft pick, CB Jaycee Horn and starting safety Juston Burris.

The Panthers are starting 4th-year corner Donte Jackson at one of the outside corner spots and journeyman, Rashaan Melvin can be expected to start at the other outside spot with CJ Henderson expected to see increased snaps as he learns the Phil Snow defense.

All in all, this should be music to DeVonta Smith’s ears as he is looking to build off the first 100 yard game of his NFL career. Smith’s technical prowess as a route runner seemingly spells trouble for Jackson, who is far from a bad NFL corner but he isn’t a number one.

Elsewhere, Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins should have opportunities down the field if the Eagles can protect Jalen Hurts long enough for plays to open up. The Panthers are giving up 11.3 yards per completion, which ranks 18th in the NFL. The Eagles lead the NFL in yards after catch, however, the Panthers give up the fewest yards after catch in the NFL.

3) How does Jonathan Gannon respond to adversity?

The Eagles defense has given up 83 points in two weeks. Fans and media alike have ridiculed Eagles defensive coordinator Jon Gannon for his reluctance to switch out of his 2 high coverage shell defense with 4 down linemen or base under looks.

The lack of personnel that fits what he wants to do, specifically at linebacker, is likely the reason for this reluctance. In this defense, the linebackers have to be able to shoot gaps quickly and decisively in run support and display sideline to sideline range in coverage. The Eagles currently don’t have that in their linebacker room.

But, Gannon must try something to stop the bleeding. Whether it’s playing more man coverage, switching up the personnel to include more Shaun Bradley, Davion Taylor, or T.J. Edwards, or simply bringing more pressure against a porus Carolina offensive line that is missing it’s starting left tackle, something must be done.

4) What is going on with the Eagles running game?

The Eagles ran 10 called runs to their running backs last week. 7 went to Miles Sanders and 3 went to rookie Kenneth Gainwell, who was heavily involved in the passing game.

Last week against the Cowboys, Carolina struggled to defend against the run. So much so that Dallas finished with 245 rushing yards. The strength of this Panthers team is seen in their ability to rush the passer but last week showed they can be susceptible to the run.

This matchup screams a Miles Sanders game.

X-Factor

My X-Factor in this game is the Eagles offensive line. Sure, this is true in every game, but with the return of Jordan Mailata and the reported news from Derrick Gunn, that Mailata will start at right tackle with Jack Driscoll moving over to right guard, this is even more pertinent.

Carolina defensive coordinator, Phil Snow is known for the multiplicity and disguise that he incorporates into his defenses. Add in one of the top pass rushers in the game, in Brian Burns and if the Eagles aren’t able to protect up front, this could be a long day for Jalen Hurts and co.

Prediction

Pick: Eagles 27, Panthers 24

This prediction is made under the assumption that Christian McCaffrey will not start.*

On paper, this seems like a mis-match for Philadelphia, but looking further into it some of the matchups tilt into Philadelphia’s favor, specifically in the trenches. This Eagles defensive line should have opportunities in this game, specifically, Fletcher Cox. The Eagles wide receivers have a huge advantage over the rag-tag group of corners the Panthers are currently starting on the outside.

Sure, the Panthers are 3-1 but their wins have come over the Jets, in Zach Wilson’s first ever NFL start, the New Orleans Saints who were defeated by the New York Giants last week in overtime, and the Houston Texans, in Davis Mills first ever NFL start.

I think Jonathan Gannon changes up his formula a bit and Jalen Hurts builds off his performance from a week ago, in a Jake Elliot last second field goal for the win.

Bold Prediction: Sam Darnold is sacked 5 times.

Stats via ProFootball Reference

Cover Image Credit: Getty Images

Author: Pierrot 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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