clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Birdbrained: Week 4 Mailbag

New, comments

I’m sorry I couldn’t answer everyone’s questions about the safety position there were like 9 of ‘em

Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Howdy team! It’s mailbag time.

If you ever want to get your questions in, hit me up on Twitter @BenjaminSolak. If you don’t have a Twitter, you can also e-mail me at benjamin [dot] solak [at] gmail, but I will probably tell you to get a Twitter (and answer your question anyway).

I can’t wait for this joke to die.

I’ll start with the likely scenario, because that’s a lot easier to reckon: The Eagles add pretty much nobody, activate Chris Maragos off of PUP when the time comes, and roll with who they’ve got. Deiondre Hall plays as SAF3 in Big Nickel situations, Corey Graham becomes a liability in some big time moments, and we all lament the McLeod injury while still talking about Jalen Mills —> Safety for the third consecutive year.

Best-case scenario: uh, I’m firmly in the “let’s trade a significant pick to literally rent Eric Thomas for a year” camp. The report was that the Cowboys were willing to trade a second for Thomas, but the Seahawks denied it. I wouldn’t be willing to spend any more than that for a Thomas rental, but the Seahawks are going to feel a heavier and heavier need to unload him for as long as he doesn’t show up for practice and just plays to get through the contract.

If we could actually land Thomas somehow, this defense becomes UNBELIEVABLY GOOD. He’s the best player at a key position in the Eagles’ Cover 3 scheme; he immediately makes Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills better. He provides a huge boost to the defense as they look to repeat as Super Bowl champions, and then boom! He hits free agency in 2019 and goes to get his max contract.

I’m so down for it, man.

Uhh, yes and no.

Per Football Outsiders, the Eagles are currently third in the NFL in terms of points allowed per red zone trip at 3.33; fifth in terms of touchdowns allowed per red zone trip at 33.3%. (Tennessee is tied for the league lead at 16.7%.) Those are great numbers, but they aren’t world-beating. Now, the best scores from last season both belonged to the Los Angeles Chargers (did anyone expect that?) at 3.69 and 36.1% — so while the Eagles numbers will likely regress a little bit, staying among the league leaders would likely but their numbers around 4.00 and 40.0%, which really is quite fine.

That being said, the Eagles’ defense is currently 21st in the league in terms of turnovers forced and 30th in terms of starting field position for their opponent. They’ve been stopping drives at a great rate — they lead the league in opponent time of possession/drive — but as that regresses, more and more drives get into the red zone. That’s the big problem — sample size invites regression. The best way to keep good red zone numbers good are to keep teams out of the red zone anyway.

Eagles are a good red zone defense; but they’ve gotta get better between the 20s for the numbers to keep reflecting that.

I think maybe yes.

I’ll put it to you this way: one month ago, in the throes of preseason, one of Shelton Gibson and Mike Wallace was going to become a true field-stretcher for the Birds. Fast forward, and Wallace is IRed while Gibson has been unable to break into a very, very weak receiver rotation.

Alshon and Agholor both have positives to their game downfield, but Philadelphia prefers to use both in the short to intermediate areas. Even Agholor, for his quickness, doesn’t have true game-breaking speed on the boundary — that’s what they were looking for between Gibby and Wallace.

They could go away from speed and look for a physical bully — that’s definitely an option — but I wouldn’t surprised to see them go for a true speedster if the opportunity arises.

Good question — especially in the echoes of last night. Every team is beatable — the Rams are no exception.

Step 1) play them at home. I know the Eagles play them on the road in 2018 — and beat them on the road in 2017 — but the Eagles are much better at home, so that’s the primary goal. If/when we see them in the NFC playoffs, make sure the meet-up is at the Linc

Step 2) pressure! Jared Goff, for all of his success in his third season (second really; we shouldn’t count the Jeff Fisher one), still remains a flusterable quarterback. While Carson has always been a player who can excel and even thrive when pressured from the pocket, Goff lacks his escapability and improvisational instinct. McVay does well to give him quick throws and get him on the move, but when he’s sitting in the pocket, you gotta get home. It’s always a good strategy, but it applies even more when you’re playing Goff.

Step 3) win the time of possession battle. That’s a high-powered offense, and the best thing to do is always keep it on the sideline. The Rams are a very urgent offense that don’t give much credence to time of possession — same with the Eagles, though to a lesser degree. Limit the scoring opportunities accordingly.

Step 4) Don’t let Carson get hurt

Boy am I glad you asked.