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Saints’ game plan targeted Carson Wentz and Sidney Jones as Eagles’ weak points


Philadelphia Eagles v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Peter King’s weekly “Football Morning In America” column features the New Orleans Saints’ 48-7 blowout win over the Philadelphia Eagles this week. It’s a pretty interesting read since the Saints gave King some behind-the-scenes access into their game plan.

One item of note from Philadelphia’s perspective is that the Saints highlighted two Eagles players as weak points: Carson Wentz and Sidney Jones.

We’ll start with No. 11.

And then, a bit of a surprise. “We want to put the game on [Eagles quarterback Carson] Wentz,” Payton said. Payton likes Wentz as a player, but his player-personnel analyst, Ryan Herman, gives him trends and numbers every week, and Payton tells the group two interesting ones about Wentz, from Herman: The Eagles are 1-11 when Wentz plays and they allow more than 26 points. And he’s 0-9 when he passes for between 308 and 364 yards, the point being if he does that, the Eagles likely won’t be running the ball well, and the Saints feel they can beat a one-dimensional offense.

The Saints were hoping to accomplish what the Eagles so often did to other teams last year; stop the run and make their opponent one-dimensional. New Orleans did not seriously fear Wentz being able to put the Eagles on his back in a shootout. As they expected, Wentz was unable to live up to the challenge.

Moving forward, it’d be nice to see Wentz improve in situations where the defense isn’t having a stellar day and/or he’s not getting a lot of help from the run game. Not an easy ask, but elite quarterbacks need to be able to overcome adversity at times. Wentz is obviously very talented so there’s certainly hope for him to improve.

As for Jones ...

The 11 offensive guys got set, and at the last minute, Hill motioned left to a shotgun position and called out the signals. Center Max Unger snapped it to him, and Hill powered right in a slow jog behind a slew of blockers. The play would be a power run, and it would fit into exactly what Payton told his players in this meeting: “Our emphasis in this game is to run at 22 [cornerback Sidney Jones]. He’s coming off a hamstring, and we don’t think he can hold up.” [...] The all-coaches meeting has a discussion of injuries and who will be active and inactive, and a message from Payton. Two things tonight: “We gotta run right at 22 [Jones] and we gotta throw at 22. We’re gonna make him defend the run on the first play. We’re going after him on three of the first eight plays.”

Jones had a really bad missed tackle on the Saints’ first offensive play of the game, which was a 38-yard run by Mark Ingram. Jones then struggled in cover — though that’s not unusual for players covering Michael Thomas — before ultimately having to leave the game early with another hamstring injury.

The Eagles’ hope for Wentz and Jones is that they’ll be two of the team’s best players for years to come. On Sunday, however, the enemy perceived them as weak points and took advantage.

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