Eagles vs. Buccaneers
The 1-0 Birds of War head into “scenic” Tampa Bay, Florida this Sunday to face a Buccaneers team who themselves are 1-0, but for very different reasons. The Bucs are coming off an absolute shootout wherein they bested arguably a top 5 team in football in the Saints, while the Eagles are fresh off of a gritty, last minute victory over another powerhouse team in the Falcons. How will the Eagles fare when these two very different teams collide? Well let’s dig into the details and see…
Can Coach get Nick Foles back to Firing Bullets?
One of the biggest questions coming into this Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers, as it is coming into any game for which Nick Foles is one of the starting quarterbacks, is what version of the QB we’ll see. As a wildly vacillating player, Foles can be realistically expected to perform as well as Week 1 Ryan Fitzpatrick, or as poor week 1 Nathan Peterman. Thankfully for Foles and Eagles fans alike, head coach Doug Pederson has once before optimized the Eagles offense to bring out the Dr. Jekyll in Foles profile. Expect a modified playbook which features plenty of two TE looks, quick gains to the likes of Nelson Agholor and Corey Clement, and of course Run-Pass Options(RPO’s). We may even get to see a little bit of Mike Wallace down the field given the Bucs secondary, which wasn’t all that good to begin with, has been ravaged with injuries.
Oh Look, it’s the Running Game
If you happened to tune into the second half of the Eagles vs Falcons game you would have noticed that a run game which primarily featured Darren Sproles in the first half became “The Jay Ajayi Show”. That was no coincidence, as Doug Pederson noted post game that the coaches sought to ease Ajayi back into full reps given his lingering foot injury from the preseason. Well, with Ajayi seemingly eased back, and Pederson adding that we’re “going to see more” of Ajayi, expect a heavy dose of the powerful, English back against a deceptively strong Bucs run defense. While it might be tough sledding against former Eagles Beau Allen and Vinny Curry, among other talented Bucs, expect the Birds top-tier O-line to open up plenty of holes for Ajayi in this one.
Will the Fitzmagic Continue?
Resoundingly, no. Despite a drastically improved secondary littered with talented rookies, the Saints drastically over-performed in the pass rush department last season with middle of the road talents such as Alex Okafor and Cameron Jordan. Coincidentally, the Eagles sport one of the most talented, if not the most talented, and deep defensive lines in the league. While it will be tempting to expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to repeat some semblance of his week 1 performance against the Saints, don’t expect much as the Bucs O-line should afford him little time to get the ball downfield. Oh, and DeSean Jackson likely won’t play.
I hope you folks knew by now that I wouldn’t leave you without predictions for each of my beloved Birds players! Anyway, here are my predicted final stat lines for each notable player on the Birds:
Nick Foles: 28/42, 320 yds, 2 TD’s
Nelson Agholor: 9 rec, 95 yards, 1 TD
Mike Wallace: 2 rec, 65 yards
DeAndre Carter/Shelton Gibson: 3 rec, 30 yards
Zach Ertz: 8 rec, 105 yards,1 TD
Dallas Goedert: 2 rec, 28 yards
Jay Ajayi: 19 rushes, 105 yards, 1 TD
Corey Clement: 6 rushes, 30 yards, 3 catches, 35 yards, 1 rec TD
Darren Sproles: 3 rushes, 13 yards, 1 rush TD, 2 catches, 20 yards
Alright, how far will Ryan Fitzpatrick fall in Week Two?
When you reach the top of a mountain, there is only one way left to go – Ryan Fitzpatrick scaled his Everest in Week One. Fitzpatrick scored five touchdowns in Week One (four in the air, one on the ground) and put up 417 yards passing. Chances are low that Fitzpatrick will recreate that line in his career, nevermind against a tough to beat Philadelphia defense. DeSean Jackson still has not cleared concussion protocol, which would further dampen Fitzpatrick’s value. He is too risky to play in Week Two, but he is well worth a prospective stash on the bench to see whether lightning can strike twice (and whether a storm is a-brewin’ in Tampa).
Who will get targets if DeSean Jackson misses Week Two?
As of Saturday morning, DeSean Jackson had yet to clear concussion protocol and is set to be a gametime decision. If Jackson misses out, Chris Godwin should be the first beneficiary of targets as he was a co-starter with Jackson in Week One. Jackson ended up with more targets (while in the game) than Godwin did the entire game, but should Jackson miss – Godwin is cut from a similar cloth and should slide in as the man outside. Godwin makes for a risky, but intriguing upside FLEX play if Jackson is out on Sunday. Adam Humphries or either O.J. Howard/Cameron Brate would be dubiously in line after Godwin.
Is Peyton Barber worthy of a start?
Peyton Barber is the clear top back in Tampa and does not have much in the way of competition, for now. He had a paltry 3.6 yards per carry in Week One and was not targeted in a game where the teams’ averaged 44 points. Barber’s upside is further limited by a tougher Defense in Week 2 and the continued likelihood that Tampa Bay will continue to air it out in an attempt to keep pace with their opponents. As the sole back, Barber is perpetually likely to get a rushing touchdown – look to Barber only as a boom or bust in Week 2.
Is there a Tight End worth starting?
Nope – not this week. Tampa Bay only targeted O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate a total of four times last week. While their use will be match-up dependent, it did not bode well that neither were used as a change of pace. Until Tampa indicates otherwise, keep both on the bench.