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Eagles News: Vikings defense presents new challenge for Nick Foles

Philadelphia Eagles news and links for 1/17/18.

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NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get to the Philadelphia Eagles links ...

Doug Pederson Crafted the Perfect Game Plan for Nick Foles Against the Falcons—but Will It Work Against the Vikings? - The Ringer
RPOs will again function as a pillar of Pederson’s offense this week, but against a fast, physical, and disciplined Vikings defense, the run game, screens, and dump-offs could be in for much tougher sledding. The Falcons finished 20th against the run this year, per Football Outsiders DVOA; ranked ninth in rush yards surrendered (104.1 per game); and tied for 16th in yards per carry allowed (4.1). Meanwhile, the Vikings finished fifth against the run, per DVOA, and ranked second in rushing yards allowed (83.6 per game) and fifth in yards per carry allowed (3.7). As for defending backs out of the backfield, consider this: The Falcons gave up 107 catches (dead last) and 802 receiving yards (28th) to opposing running backs this season, surrendering four touchdowns through the air (tied for 19th). The Vikings, on the other hand, gave up just one pass touchdown to opposing backs all year (tied for first) and allowed just 76 catches (sixth) and 489 yards (third) to that position. In short, this Minnesota defense is far superior to the Falcons’, especially in a few of the key areas in which Philly attacked Atlanta.

Jay Ajayi went missing for a stretch during the Eagles’ first playoff game. Why? - BGN
The Eagles need more Jay Train.

Philly Dogs - BreakingT
The No. 1 seed with no respect.

Eagles get another familiar referee assignment for NFC Championship Game vs. Vikings - PhillyVoice
The NFL’s Conference Championship referee assignments are in, according to FootballZebras.com, and the Philadelphia Eagles’ matchup with the Minnesota Vikings will be officiated by the one and only Ed Hochuli. Over the years, Hochuli has presided over a slew of memorable Eagles games, including the 4th and 1 “They stopped them again!” game, 4th and 26, the air guitar game, Nick Foles’ seven-TD game, and the Snow Bowl. Since 1999 (the cutoff in which Pro-Football-Reference.com began tracking officials’ games), Hochuli has officiated 18 Eagles games. The Eagles are 11-7 in those games.

An unorthodox defensive strategy could get Philly to the Super Bowl - ESPN
The payoff has proved profitable. The Eagles get off the field, and fast; no NFL team forced three-and-outs more regularly, at a 43.6 percent clip, nor gave opposing quarterbacks so little time in the pocket, at an average of 2.15 seconds. In the end, Philly allowed opponents on the field for a league-low time of possession per game at 27 minutes, 18 seconds. And so a peculiar ecosystem, complete with unique customs and dialect, has emerged in South Philly. Within the walls of the practice facility, the concept of starters and backups is relegated to an antiquated notion. (“Our first and second strings on the line,” Curry starts, and then stops. “Not even really second strings. Our first and second groups.”) They don’t feel bound by traditional labels because they don’t think those labels apply.

Keys to the NFL conference championships - PFF
Case Keenum has been far better under pressure than Foles, and he has a passer rating of 78.5 even when pressured so far this season, a top-10 figure in the league. Keenum has allowed 10.7 percent of that pressure to turn into sacks, the second-lowest mark in the league, but the Vikings’ offensive line has begun to struggle lately as injuries take their toll. Against the Saints, right tackle Rashod Hill – not a first-string starter – surrendered a sack, a hit and four hurries, while Mike Remmers allowed four total pressures while playing out of position at left guard. Keenum was under pressure on 14 of his 43 dropbacks and had a passer rating of just 5.1 on those plays in that game.

An Inside Look As The Media Frenzy Begins - PE.com
This is not quite business as usual, not with an increased media presence that will only continue to grow as the week gets long, but the way the Eagles’ players and coaches seemed on Tuesday, maybe it is just that ...

Frank Reich on reported Titans interest: We’re doing a special thing here - PFT
“I honestly have not thought much about it. [My mindset is] to stay focused,” Reich said at his press conference. “I learned that a long time ago. Just enjoy the people and the process that you’re in. I love it here and I love where we’re at. We’re doing a pretty special thing right here and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

All-22: Eagles must prepare for Vikings’ split mug fronts and pattern-match coverages - The Athletic
The Eagles sparked their offense with the use of RPOs last week against Atlanta, and they could be a weapon against the Vikings as well. Using them with motions could provide Foles with a numbers advantage. This game will likely be another defensive struggle, and it’s hard to see the Eagles’ run game being as effective against the Vikings as it was last week against the Falcons. The offense can’t afford to turn the ball over but will also need Foles to connect on a few big plays. He will have to take calculated risks and be even better than last week to score points against a defense of this caliber.

What Eagles’ DBs can learn from Saints disaster - NBC Sports Philadelphia
With just a few seconds left in Sunday’s Vikings-Saints game, Eagles cornerback Patrick Robinson walked away from his television and went to throw out some garbage. ”I thought it was over,” Robinson said. Oops. By the time Robinson walked back inside, his friends were eagerly waiting to tell him what he missed. Somehow, the Vikings pulled off a miracle 61-yard, walk-off touchdown pass. Rookie safety Marcus Williams whiffed on a tackle that would have ended the game. And the elusive Stefon Diggs scampered into the end zone. For the Eagles’ defensive backs, seeing that mistake on Sunday served as a reminder.

Eagles, Vikings defenses could mean a slugfest for Sunday - Inquirer
Las Vegas has set the Eagles-Vikings over-under at 38 points. If you want offensive fireworks, look elsewhere on Sunday. This game has a better chance of becoming a defensive slugfest. The better defense might be headed to the Super Bowl.

99-year-old Eagles fan going to NFC Championship game as birthday present - FOX29
99-year-old Phil Basser, of Philadelphia, is becoming quite the celebrity after his grandson Josh answered a Vikings fan’s tweet about her grandma Millie bringing home a win for Minnesota. The 18-year old University of Pennsylvania freshman tweeted, ‘Looks like we got a battle of the centenarians.’ With a whole lot of of pep in his step, Phil was once an underdog. He was born in Philadelphia in 1918, raised in a Jewish orphanage and fought in World War II and the Korean War before opening his own advertising company.

Vikings vs. Eagles: NFC Championship Preview - Daily Norseman
But overall, just over 83% of Foles’ pass attempts, and 95% of his completions, were under 15 yards in the air. Against the Falcons, Foles threw for 246 yards. Half of those yards came from yards-after-the-catch, or YAC. All of this suggests the Vikings may go with a lot of Cover-1 shells on defense, putting Harrison Smith in the box to help in both run defense, short-intermediate coverage assignments, and blitzes - helping to minimize the Eagles’ offense inside 10 - 15 yards from the line of scrimmage, and forcing Foles to beat them with what he does worst- the deep ball.

Pat Shurmur’s past offenses leave a lot to be desired - Big Blue View
Overall, Shurmur-led offenses haven’t been all that impressive. In his nine seasons as an offensive coordinator or head coach, Shurmur has only been in the top-10 of offensive DVOA twice — this season and his first season as the offensive coordinator under Chip Kelly with the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s only led an offense outside the top-20 one other time, his second season in Philadelphia. There’s no doubt what Shurmur has done in Minnesota this season has been impressive, but his longer track record isn’t nearly on that level. NFL coaching hires are full of recency bias and ignoring past seasons to focus on the good is often a mistake. Here’s where his offenses have ranked since 2009.

Are the Cowboys about to watch another Mike Zimmer get away in Matt Eberflus? - Blogging The Boys
There’s obviously a chance that nothing comes of all this and that Dallas doesn’t ever regret the move to let Eberflus walk, but looking at the Matt Eberflus situation feels lot like looking at the Mike Zimmer one.

The 2018 NFL playoffs are proving defense still wins championships - SB Nation
Make no mistake: The only reason the 13-3 Eagles weren’t favored at home against the 10-6 Falcons was Nick Foles. And he’s the reason Philadelphia will be a home underdog again when the Vikings visit Sunday. But the Eagles aren’t going to roll over and die without Carson Wentz. The Philadelphia defense — which may have the most momentum of any defense still alive — isn’t going to allow it.

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