One of the biggest plays from the Eagles’ Divisional Round playoff loss to the Saints was when New Orleans successfully converted a 4th-and-1 via a fake punt. Down 14-0 and set to kick from their own 30-yard line with 11:51 remaining in the second quarter, the Saints prevented the Eagles from potentially going up three possessions by direct snapping to gadget player Taysom Hill.
As it turns out, the Saints were apparently motivated to attempt a fake in that situation due to a weakness heading into the game. The weak point? Eagles All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox:
Never take plays off.— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) January 17, 2019
On one of the biggest plays of the game, the Saints WANTED to run a fake punt into the Eagles *regular defense* because they knew Fletcher Cox was going to play passively from film study. They ran right at him & converted the 1st down. pic.twitter.com/DhlWD8Yt9Q
Now, I think this whole thing is kind of stupid.
I don’t think the Saints converted because Cox took a play off. He was triple-teamed from the jump by three guys who weighed a combined 741 pounds.
I also don’t love the logic that the Saints watching Cox take it easy on some Bears punts meant they knew he’d do that in this situation. Mostly because they weren’t even similar situations. Look at the yards-to-go distances on Chicago’s punt attempts from the Wild Card round:
It’s not like the Bears were punting on 4th-and-1 or 4th-and-2 and Cox was being lackadaisical. I’m pretty sure he’d be giving more effort on a short-yardage play where a fake is more likely.
To complain about Cox taking snaps off is a pretty absurd thing to do when you consider how hard he fought through injury to even return to that Saints game. Cox was seen wearing a walking boot after the loss to New Orleans.
To me, this clip reeks of the Sean Payton trying to “stick it” to the Eagles. We already saw something similar when Peter King did a piece on how the Saints viewed Carson Wentz and Sidney Jones as weak points in the Week 11 matchup between these two teams.
For whatever reason, the Saints clearly have some issues with the Eagles. After New Orleans won their 2014 playoff game in Philadelphia, Payton had the Saints’ team bus do victory laps around Lincoln Financial Field. During the 2018 offseason, Alvin Kamara said the Saints would have “beat the shit out of” the Eagles had they not lost to the Vikings. During the 2018 regular season, Kamara and Mark Ingram mocked the Eagles’ ski mask gimmick and referred to the Eagles as “fraudulents.” After the Eagles lost in New Orleans on Sunday, Saints players mocked the ski mask gimmick once again and also celebrated with “Dreams and Nightmares” (the Eagles’ Super Bowl anthem) blasting from speakers in the locker room.
I would guess that the Eagles will not be upset if the Saints don’t win the Super Bowl this year.