Eagles–Titans: Previewing Sunday’s Matchup

The Eagles are perfectly equipped to defend the Titans

The Titans are a run-oriented offense, everything they do is predicated on establishing the ground game. With one of the best offensive lines in football paving the way for the thunder and lightning duo of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis, it’s hard to deny that this is their identity.

However, that type of offense usually doesn’t fair well against the Birds.

In 2017 the Eagles had a historic season stopping the run thanks to a defensive line that will go down as one of the most dominant of all time. It’s possible (likely) that the defensive line be even more prolific this season—a notion that is so far being validated.

Through three games opposing teams have only attempted to run on the Eagles 54 times for a total of 185 yards—both of those marks are the lowest in the NFL. And, if you take an outlier 33-yard scramble from Andrew Luck out of the equation, the Eagles are allowing just 2.9 yards per carry.

The Titans won’t deviate from their game plan because of this, they know that a shootout between Mariota and Wentz doesn’t play into their hands. If there’s a team that can establish a semblance of a running game against the Birds it’ll be Tennessee, especially since they get to play at home.

Their defense is good enough that if they can find a way to slow down the game and win time of possession they’ll have a good chance to win the game—that all just depends on their ability to establish the run against a team tailor-made to stop it.

Will “Next Man Up” be enough to replace McLeod, or will it become a concern for our secondary?

We’ll have a good idea of the answer to this question after tomorrow.

Corey Graham figures to start in McLeod’s absence with a combination of Diondre Hall and Rasul Douglas filling Graham’s previous role at third safety—a role that has played 55% of defensive snaps this season.

My main concern stems from our ability to replace McLeod’s capabilities as a single-high safety. McLeod’s range and sure tackling is what allows him to keep the top on our defense, and I don’t know if Graham or Hall provide that.

Obviously the team will look to Jenkins to fill some of the free safety responsibilities, but that only means that he’ll be pulled away from his swiss-army knife role in the defense—something that will only figure to hurt the team more.

There isn’t a whole lot of help out there to pick up off the streets, so if the committee of players enlisted to replace McLeod is incapable of doing so then Howie will need to look into making a trade.

Wentz needs to shake off some more rust this week

Some of this was lost in the victory, but Wentz was a little shaky for the most part last week. Actually, besides the first and last possessions of the game, Wentz was terrible—go back and look.

This obviously won’t keep up all season, but that won’t keep me from worrying how long it will take for him to fully shake off the cob webs. Until Wentz returns to his MVP-caliber play of last season, we’ll go into each and every week with a real chance to lose.

Tennessee’s defense just isn’t as good as some NFL-pundits are painting them to be

I’ve seen the idea floated multiple times that Tennessee’s defense “shouldn’t be slept on,” and while I agree that they are certainly capable of holding us to a quiet day, they are by no means capable of imposing their will on us—there’s just no basis for that.

So far this season they are getting gashed on the ground to a tune of 4.8 yards per carry, and I fully expect Doug Pederson to take advantage of that behind our dominant offensive line—Ajayi or not.

The only area where they threaten is their ability to generate some pressure. They currently have 8 sacks on the season and have an array of creative blitz packages to chose from. Wentz was on the run last week against the Colts, and that remains a possibility this week.

Nevertheless, their above average defensive line isn’t enough to dictate the flow of our offense, that’s just not happening.

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