The Eagles showed some signs of vulnerability during their loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week. The good news is that Carson Wentz is coming back, but the bad news is that Philadelphia still projects to be depleted at the skill player positions.
If you’re among those who might not be feeling super confident in the Eagles for some reason, today’s post might have you feeling a little better about the reigning Super Bowl champs.
Bleeding Green Nation already took some time to chat with Stampede Blue in order to preview this week’s matchup. (You can read that here.) Today, we’re back with three reasons why each team might lose. This format forces us to consider each team’s weaknesses, rather than just being homers.
So, below are three reasons why the Colts could lose, as written by The Falcoholic’s Chris Blystone. Stay tuned to Stampede Blue to see why I think the Eagles could lose.
#1: Youth and Inexperience
Of the players who took more than 50% of snaps on either offense or defense for the Colts last week, 11 of them are in either their first or second season. If you include players who are entering their third year, another 8 guys get added to the list of significant contributors. That’s 19 players on the Colts roster who have at most, two full years of NFL experience.
Now, for many teams, injuries force them to play younger players before they might like to. However, with the Colts, this is actually part of the plan. Bring in and develop young players, get them ready to be key parts of the roster, or figure out that they don’t have what it takes and draft their replacements next year.
There are a lot of advantages that come with having a young roster. First, you have athletes in their peak physical condition. They can often heal faster than veteran players, and the toll of playing at the NFL level hasn’t yet been exacted upon their bodies. This team is definitely a faster, more athletic team than any the Colts have had in recent memory.
But with youth comes inexperience. The Colts have that in boatloads. They don’t have the experience to deal with adversity. They make foolish mistakes that seasoned vets don’t make. Where a wily veteran linebacker is disciplined to watch his keys and react to them, the Colts have a group that bites hard on fakes. More established running backs know that sometimes taking what the defense gives you is the best move, and the Colts have a group that often would rather bounce outside for a big gain.
The point is, the Colts are going to make mistakes. You can get away with that against some teams, but not when you’re playing the defending Super Bowl champs. They’ll need to play a mistake free game, and I just don’t think that is reasonable to expect.
#2: 3rd Quarter Doldrums
The Colts had a pretty remarkable run to their credit in 2017. They entered the 4th quarter with a lead in 8 of their first eleven games. Only the Eagles and Patriots led more during that time. The Colts incredibly only managed to win 3 of those games. That slide usually began with offensive stagnation in the 3rd quarter.
While Frank Reich has been a breath of fresh air already this season with regard to game management and play calling, the Colts’ performances through two games in the third quarter is cause for some serious concern. While the team seems to get out to a great start early, when they go into the locker room at halftime, the offense appears to leave their brains there until sometime in the 4th quarter. It was this issue that resulted in a loss to the Bengals when the game had been under the Colts’ control pretty handily.
For whatever reason, this team struggles to get any kind of offense going in the third quarter, and leaves their young and vulnerable defense on the field for much too long. Even if Carson Wentz comes out rusty to start this game, giving him the ball for most of the third quarter would be a pretty easy way for the Colts to find the game out of their reach.
#3: Where’s the Pass Rush?
There are a lot of things that make this young Colts defense kind of exciting. Pass rush is not one of those things. Great teams pressure the quarterback. It doesn’t matter if you have the best secondary in football, against a top quarterback, you’re getting picked apart if he can sit back and wait for guys to come open.
That is the reality the Colts likely face against the quality offensive line of the Eagles (The lack of a pass rush, not the best secondary in footbal). They haven’t shown an ability to consistently get hits on the quarterback or collapse the pocket. Even with the Eagles’ receiver room depleted by injury, this is not a formula for wins. The Colts will have to resort to blitzes, stunts, and twists to get pressure. All those come with their own limitations and disadvantages.
Carson Wentz is the best quarterback the Colts will have faced yet this season, and given the combination of his ability and that of the Eagles to effectively run the ball, I think the Colts’ defense will find itself on their heels and see this game taken out of the hands of Andrew Luck. If the defense can’t get to Wentz and get off the field, they’ll have no chance against this team.