If there’s a team in the NFL that’s equipped and capable of knocking off the Patriots it’s the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite not having their MVP caliber QB the Birds still have all the pieces required to beat New England. But, when I look at this matchup one thing really sticks out to me. It seems like in almost every big game the Pats play in their opponent tries to outsmart them coaching wise, and they end up being outsmarted by Belichick every single time. The Patriots have a psychological advantage over almost every team they play, simply because of their accomplishments and the demeanor in which they carry themselves — The Patriot Way. They strike fear into most coaches… most. The Eagles’ formula for success all season has been aggressive/smart offensive play calling and ferocious defensive play. Since Doug became head coach in Philly he hasn’t shied away from that mentality. And in year two this aggressive approach has been much smarter than it was in his first season. We’ve gone from Doug’s aggression losing games for the Eagles, to Doug’s aggression winning games for the Eagles. Just look at this past week and you’ll find an example of this bold approach putting them in a position to win. With under a minute to go in the first half and up by 14, instead of running out the half and going into the locker room Doug masterfully worked the clock and put the Eagles in position to kick a field goal in just three plays.
While most coaches who face the Patriots try to stay aggressive once they have a lead, they end up becoming predictable because the Patriots want you to stay aggressive against them. This was exactly what happened in the Super Bowl game last season. The Falcons built up a 21-3 lead going into half time. So instead of changing up their game plan, they decided to continue their aggressive fast pace play calling. And this is the downfall of almost every team that plays the Patriots, they fail to adjust at halftime even if they have a lead. The Patriots know when they’re down teams are going to keep doing what worked against them — they are the kings of half time adjustments. The Falcons failed to make any adjustments and they lost because of it.
Doug Pederson is one of the brightest offensive minds in football right now, and his aggressive play calling is the staple of his offensive genius. I expect the Eagles to roll out a few plays that we haven’t seen all season, maybe even go for an unexpected two-point conversion early in the game. The one thing I don’t expect Doug to do is get soft and become predictable. He kept the number one defense on their heels all night in the Championship game, I don’t think he’ll have trouble doing it to the 29th ranked defense. If Doug can stay aggressive but avoid the predictability that has derailed some many teams, he will lead the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory.