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Tampa Bay A Tough Game, And A Gotta-Have Win For The Eagles

This feature is a weekly piece on titled From The Eagles, featuring Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro. The intention is to provide a perspective directly from the Philadelphia Eagles in this forum for the great fans who visit BGN.

Many questions about the Eagles after that loss to Miami last Sunday. I get it. Totally understandable. Completely disappointing. So how do the Eagles bounce back against a young, aggressive, nothing-to-lose Tampa Bay team on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field?

Let's talk about it ...

  • Slants to wide receiver Jarvis Landry hurt the Eagles secondary last week against Miami, and the task on Sunday is to defend the back-shoulder throw and the go-up-and-get-it passes to monstrous Mike Evans. Is it just me, or is there a chance that Byron Maxwell, a larger cornerback, will match up more successfully against Evans rather than the smaller-and-quicker receivers the Eagles have seen?

  • If Jason Peters can't play, we're looking at another week of Lane Johnson at left tackle and Dennis Kelly at right tackle and Julian Vandervelde as the first lineman off the sideline in case he's needed. The Eagles didn't give the tackles much help against Miami and both Johnson and Kelly struggled. Will Brent Celek, such a target in the passing game in the first half last week, play more of a blocker role here? I think the Eagles are going to throw the ball a lot against the Tampa Bay secondary, particularly the safeties. The Bucs play the run pretty well and they're fast up front and at linebacker.

  • What to expect from Mark Sanchez, should he be the starter (as I write this, nothing is official about Sam Bradford's availability)? He'll bring a lot of tempo. He'll be animated. He'll be mobile. Sanchez will get the ball out of his hands fast. And the offense should respond better than last week when there were some miscommunications and some timing issues on handoffs and throws. Can Sanchez eliminate the forced passes and the turnovers? I want to see what head coach Chip Kelly calls the first time the Eagles have a first down in the red zone, or are in a goal-to-go situation. Does he give Sanchez a chance to throw the football into the end zone?

  • With Ryan Mathews likely sidelined, Kenjon Barner may get some reps in the backfield along with DeMarco Murray - he will get a heavy workload - and Darren Sproles. With such a quick turnaround for the Eagles, who play on Thanksgiving Day at Detroit, Kelly doesn't want to wear out Murray.

  • Expect Nelson Agholor to get more reps and more targets in the passing game. The Eagles aren't getting much production from Miles Austin and Riley Cooper and they need some juice from a receiver other than Jordan Matthews. Agholor may not be quite recovered from his ankle injury, but he has some giddy-up, and passing game needs it.

  • Tampa Bay is going to blitz. That's what the Bucs do. Let's see how the Eagles handle it. It's a critical focus in this game.

  • The Bucs have scored four touchdowns in the last three games, three of them runs by quarterback Jameis Winston. If I'm defensive coordinator Bill Davis, I'm doubling Evans and throwing every possible look at Winston. He's a great talent, but he's still a rookie. Gotta contain him in the pocket and make him think. He's got nine interceptions and is completing 58 percent of his passes.

  • Mychal Kendricks is such a key player here. He's got to be a disciplined run stopper against a Tampa Bay team that is going to try to pound it. Kendricks needs to take on blockers and get to the football.

  • Wouldn't surprise me to see Eric Rowe get some increased reps in the next few weeks as a cover safety. But I guess I've been looking for that in the last month.

  • The Eagles win this game because ... I just can't imagine this team coming out flat. I see a team that is stung, embarrassed and not pleased that the heat is turned so high. We'll see what this locker room is made of in these two games, very winnable ones for a team that knows it still has a real chance in the NFC East.

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