Eagles Offense vs Saints Defense
In 2017, the Eagles relied on their 8th-ranked offense to lead them to the Super Bowl.
Since then, however, regression has hit Philadelphia hard. Here are their yard/play ranks in the seasons following their Super Bowl title:
Who deserves the blame can be debated, but the quarterback position is the most significant in terms of value. In that magical season, Carson Wentz averaged 8.3 adjusted yards/pass attempt. Well, it is safe to say that hasn’t held up:
2018: 7.9 AY/A
2019: 7 AY/A
2020: 5.2 AY/A
Wentz’s 7.5% touchdown rate was never going to be sustainable, and that held true. Additionally, he has thrown 15 interceptions and has taken 50 sacks, both of which lead the league, so he certainly has held the offense back with negative plays.
Hurts, from all indications, is a much more accurate quarterback.
He wasn’t selected in the first round of last year’s draft, but he threw for 11.3 yards/attempt in his final season at Oklahoma after transferring from Alabama, where he led the Crimson Tide to a national championship appearance in each of his first two seasons.
He instantly lit a spark for Philadelphia’s offense last week, leading them to a touchdown drive right away, and is also a much more dynamic rushing threat than Wentz.
One area where Hurts has been cited as being weak at is his pocket presence. Additionally, Philadelphia’s offensive line has dealt with a lot of injuries; they’ll go into this game without either of their starting tackles.
Thus, this should be a scenario where New Orleans’ defensive line can feast. Cameron Jordan facing rookie fourth-round tackle Jack Driscoll could get ugly, and the same can be said for Trey Hendrickson and Marcus Davenport (if healthy) facing off against Jordan Mailata.
If the Saints can create early pressure on Hurts, they’ll be in a good position to faze the young quarterback.
Philadelphia’s receiving corps consists of a speed threat in first-round rookie Jalen Reagor, as well as intermediate passing game threats in Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, and Alshon Jeffery.
Limiting Reagor’s explosiveness will be key, and after struggling against last week, I’m not sure Marshon Lattimore should be trusted to do that. Thus, getting back cornerback Janoris Jenkins from injury could make a substantial impact in this game.
Additionally, the Eagles like to pass the ball often to the tight end duo of Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz. New Orleans hasn’t been consistent when it comes to defending tight ends, but the addition of linebacker Kwon Alexander may have changed that. In their past two non-Broncos games, they limited Hayden Hurst to one combined reception, which is a massive improvement from the beginning of the season.
Meanwhile, the Eagles rank 3rd in rushing yards/attempt, and should be even better in that regard with Hill, so the Saints’ rush defense, which ranks 2nd in yards/attempt allowed and yards/game allowed, will get a chance to prove their worth.
Hurts brings an extra dimension that can be difficult for the Saints to defend. Creating consistent pressure on him will be key, as is limiting Reagor. Meanwhile, between their tight ends and rushing attack, Philadelphia poses quite the test for Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander.
There are a lot of fascinating individual matchups in this game, and getting the Eagles down early and forcing them into obvious passing downs must be a priority.