If the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles are to upset the New Orleans Saints, the offense is going to have to hum. How can they set themselves up for success in the Divisional Round?
That’s what we try to decipher on The Kist & Solak Show #69 (nice). Ben predicted, or hopes for, a big game from Darren Sproles. We’re not talking running the ball either. The Saints boast the 3rd ranked DVOA run defense and the Eagles are averaging just 3.23 yards per carry since Nick Foles to over. Rather, Ben thinks Sproles’ most important contributions will come in the run game. He cited the favorable matchup in space against the linebacker unit of the Saints.
Sproles had his biggest impact as a receiver in the Week 16 win over the Houston Texans. In that game, Sproles caught 3 balls for 76 yards and one touchdown.
Second week in a row for a big 4th down conversion on "Mesh-Sit Wheel"..— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) December 24, 2018
Agholor's route forces LB Dylan Cole to make a decision. He has to scrape over or shoot under. Running into contact makes him a half second late. pic.twitter.com/tUnOlYmCnR
Beyond utilizing Sproles as a receiver, the Eagles will have other opportunities in the passing game. They’re 28th in yards per attempt allowed, 27th in passer rating, and 26th in completion percentage. Still, the Eagles may have to unleash the downfield shots to take full advantage of the Saints’ defense.
- Nick Foles ranks 33rd of 36 in Deep Ball Frequency (per PFF). Since W15, 31st of 33.— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) January 11, 2019
- The Saints' defense ranks dead last in DVOA on deep passes (per Football Outsiders).
If the Eagles find themselves in a track meet, they're going to have to find vertical shots.
They’ll have their opportunities. According to NFL Matchup, the Saints blitz 26.9% on first down and 35.2% on third down. This often leaves their corners on and island. Eli Apple has been praised as of late, but he’s still tied for 2nd in most penalties among cornerbacks. This includes 7 flags in the last 5 weeks.
Apple remains an inconsistent player with the same problems at the catchpoint that he had with New York Giants. So even if they don’t connect, the Eagles may be able to take advantage of the grabby Apple.
We cover all that and more on The Kist & Solak Show #69! Listen to it on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load. FLY EAGLES FLY!
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