Eagles defense looks to bounce back on Sunday
The Eagles come into Sunday’s game against the Colts looking to avenge their first loss of the season. The Eagles defense fell victim to Fitzmagic last Sunday which as a result led to the Bucs 27-21 Victory. Bucs quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had a field day. Against the vaunted Eagles defense Fitzpatrick lit them up to the toon of completing 27 of 33 passes for 402 yards and four touchdowns. The very first play of the game was a 75-yard touchdown to Desean Jackson. While this wasn’t what the Eagles had in mind they get a chance to redeem themselves on Sunday.
Luck shaking off the rust
Andrew Luck is still working his way back from injury. He missed nearly two seasons with a shoulder injury. As a matter of fact, August 9th was the first time he’d thrown a pass in almost 600 days. Since then he’s gotten preseason reps and now two regular season games under his belt. The first game resulted in a 34-23 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The former Stanford quarterback had a solid day though. He wasted no time getting back into the flow of things as he attempted 53 passes. Luck completed 39 of them for 319 yards two touchdowns and one interception.
The first pass of the day for Luck was intercepted but he bounced back. The Colts, however, fell short when as they were approaching the red zone late in the fourth quarter tight end Jack Doyle fumbled and it was returned 83 yards for a touchdown with 24 seconds left. Overall though the day was encouraging for Colts fans. Luck was only sacked twice and had a fairly clean pocket for most of the day.
Back in the win column
The Colts had more luck this week as they came away with a 21-9 victory over the Washington Redskins. This coming as a bit of a surprise considering how good the Redskins looked week one. Luck tossed two more touchdowns in this one including another one to his favorite target in T.Y. Hilton. Luck toned it down this week as he was just 21 of 31 with 179 yards and also two interceptions.
The Redskins sacked Luck three times and forced two turnovers but couldn’t generate any offense. Sunday’s matchup will certainly be no walk in the park. Luck is certainly capable of lighting up any defense. So what must the Eagles defense do to shut down the Colts attack?
All eyes on Hilton
The secondary will certainly have to be better this week. Julio Jones went off for 10 catches and 169 yards in week one. Last week both Jackson and Mike Evans scored touchdowns. Jackson had 129 yards and Evans 83. This week they get the Colts top target in Hilton. The 5’10 receiver is one of the best in the game and becomes even more dangerous with Luck slinging the rock. Last week Hilton reeled in his second touchdown of the season to go along with 7 catches for 83 yards.
Unseen. Never touched.
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) September 16, 2018
So far Hilton is off to the best start of his career. Through two games he has 12 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He’s been targeted 22 times in the process. His best season came in 2016 as he led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,448 yards on 91 receptions. You know Frank Reich will be scheming up ways to get Hilton the ball early and often. I would expect to see Darby matched up with Hilton in what should be an intriguing matchup.
The Colts love to utilize their tight ends as well. Through two games Eric Ebron has caught two touchdowns. The starting tight end is Doyle and he certainly poses a threat. Nigel Bradham and Jordan Hicks will certainly be busy in dealing with these two. The Eagles do have the leagues’ number one rush defense so the Colts ground game shouldn’t be much of a factor. Marlon Mack is the starter but expect a committee approach.
#Colts used TE Eric Ebron effectively early against the Redskins. Using him split out w/12 personnel, easy money w/mesh on 3rd and 2, then get the match-up you like in the red zone & let him make a play. pic.twitter.com/KsvHVL6ATB
— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) September 18, 2018
The Eagles should also be able to hold up against the rest of the other options which are Ryan Grant and Chester Rogers. The Colts have a middle of the pack offense so far but the Eagles have the leagues 28th ranked pass defense which Luck will look to exploit.
So how do you stop luck?
For starters this week the Eagles must get pressure on the D.C native. Last week Fitzpatrick only missed six passes the entire game. The Bucs were prepared as Fitzpatrick often had plenty of time to scan the field and find his target. Luck has a similar skillset to Wentz. Both are strong QBs and will stand in the pock, however Luck while not as mobile can certainly extend players and make things happen. Heading into his third game he will certainly be looking to keep things going. The Eagles defense did get two sacks last week but certainly wanted to get to Fitzpatrick more.
The Eagles defensive line has to step up this game. You don’t want to fall behind early again. Mills has been under fire this week for his recent play. One way that will help him is by getting pressure on the QB. Make the day difficult for Luck. Add in almost 70,000 screaming fans and the Eagles defense should be ready. It will also be refreshing to know that the Eagles defense plays much better at home than on the road. The Eagles are 12-1 in their last 13 home games allowing just 12.9 ppg. Against Atlanta Fletcher Cox was unstoppable as he wreaked havoc up front.
Keys to the game
Right now the Eagles pass defense is not good. They will definitely be looking to have a better day than last week. Stopping the big play and tackling will be critical. Allowing two touchdowns of 75 yards in the same game normally isn’t a good recipe for winning.
— Garry Cobb (@GarryCobb) September 19, 2018
With the energy of Wentz returning and the fans hungry for a win if the Eagles can jump out to a fast start they can keep the pressure on Luck. He is prone to turnovers as he already has three interceptions this season.
The Eagles have faced Luck just once so far in his career. This meeting came back in 2014. The Eagles were victors that night 30-27 and will look to have a similar result Sunday. In that meeting, Luck threw for three touchdowns but just had 172 yards. Hilton was held to six catches for 65 yards. While he may not yet be at the Level he was when he led the Colts to the AFC championship game in 2014 The seventh-year quarterback is still very dangerous. If the Eagles are to win holding Luck in check will be the key. Let’s see what happens Sunday afternoon in Philly.