The Eagles are coming off a close, tough win against Carolina where rookies were once again heavily relied on to deliver a good game for the Eagles. On a short week, the Eagles have to get ready for a rolling Tampa Bay Buccaneers team and the young guys will have immense pressure on them to help Philly get to 3-3 on the season.
Can DeVonta Smith keep being The Guy?
The secret is out. DeVonta Smith is the Eagles number one wide receiver. Smith has caught 14 passes for 189 yards in the last two weeks and had two touchdowns (stupidly) called off due to (stupid) penalties. Smith has proven he can make plays for the Eagles and the Eagles need him to make those plays and eat up targets if the offense wants a chance of rolling.
Tampa Bay not only fields a tough defense, but their offense is going to likely force the Eagles to go blow for blow with them. Thus, DeVonta Smith should see a heavy dose of targets and what he does for them will factor into the game’s outcome.
Landon Dickerson needs to bounce back.
Landon Dickerson had a rough game against Carolina. The rookie left guard gave up pressure all game (two QB hits and one hurry allowed per PFF), failed to move the Carolina defense in the run game, and chipped in a costly penalty. Dickerson also came out late in the game, reportedly for an ankle injury, but he seems to have recovered from that.
Dickerson’s task gets no easier against Tampa Bay. With Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Shaquille Barrett and Devin White, the Buccaneers are savvy to send pressure from everywhere. It is not just that Dickerson will need to play more physically than he did against Carolina, he will need to play smarter too. If he has another performance like he did Sunday, it will be a long day for the Eagles offense.
Milton Williams has to help get pressure on Tom Brady.
Milton Williams had some glimpses of being a pass rusher against Carolina on Sunday. On Thursday, it will be crucial for the Eagles to be able to pressure Tom Brady with four linemen. Famously Brady is at his best against the blitz and has his rare trouble when teams can drop seven and pressure with four.
Williams has not been featured in four man fronts, yet. Assuming the Buccaneers offense will be on the field quite a bit, the Eagles may need to reach deep into their rotation to keep people fresh. Williams needs to maximize his opportunities as a pass rusher and take a step to show he can be a three down lineman.
Hoping the Eagles get Kenneth Gainwell involved again…
The Eagles’ reticence to use their talented running back duo has been a frustration all season. For some reason, Kenneth Gainwell only touched the ball three times on Sunday. It is clear Gainwell is a difference maker out of the backfield and wherever else he lines up. The Eagles need to get him the ball more against Tampa Bay.
As a runner, he will face the best front seven of his young NFL career. How he rises to the occasion will determine the Eagles ability to move the ball consistently on the ground. If the Eagles commit to doing so, that is.