By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
The Philadelphia Eagles travel up to Wisconsin this weekend for a “battle” with the Green Bay Packers. Battle might be a stretch. With the trajectories both of these teams are on, this game could be over by the first quarter.
Really a terrible shame the Linc wasn’t completely packed this season to mercilessly bully this trash team— Yo (@FlyGoalScoredBy) December 1, 2020
The Eagles are coming off of yet another infuriating loss. The Packers are coming fresh off a beatdown of a division rival on national television.
With the trends both teams are on, and the fact that going to Lambeau Field in December is hard enough on its own, this game has the potential of getting very ugly very quickly.
Yes, the Eagles handed the Packers one of their three regular season losses last season. Yes, that game was in Lambeau. One key difference about that game compared to this Sunday’s contest?
The Eagles offense showed up in that one. If you’ve watched the Eagles offense at all this season, you know how unlikely it is that the Birds repeat last year’s scenario. This game is far more likely to finish the way their 2014 matchup did when Aaron Rodgers “dueled” with Mark Sanchez. You can guess how that went.
Eagles Offense vs. Packers Defense
I could just copy and paste every complaint I had about the Eagles offense in last week’s preview into this week’s preview. This offense is beyond the point of frustration. It’s malpractice.
Watching this team, the offense specifically, should be considered a form of torture rather than a form of entertainment.
Perhaps even more mind-numbing is the fact that nothing is changing. Doug Pederson claims he’s willing to give up play-calling if it leads to team success, but I don’t believe that for a single second. You would be foolish to believe it too.
The Eagles had a prime opportunity to rectify the passing offense on Monday night against the worst pass defense in the league. Instead, Carson Wentz completed just 55% of his passes, averaged 4.8 yards per completion, and the offense as a whole had just 250 total yards against a defense that was allowing 344 passing yards.
It's remarkable that the Eagles have a dysfunctional passing offense with bad design, poor protection, and an often off-target QB.— Thomas R. Petersen 🦅 (@thomasrp93) December 1, 2020
Yet still decide to call a pass play on 85 % of plays, while being down about 1 score for most of the game.#Eagles
The thought process behind this offensive play-calling continues to make literally no sense. The Eagles have a piss poor offensive line protecting a quarterback whose confidence is in shambles. Yet, Doug Pederson carries on calling almost quadruple the pass plays to run plays. Someone please make it make sense.
The Eagles are eighth in the league in pass attempts, yet rank 31st in yards gained through the air. Meanwhile, the Birds are 28th in rushing attempts but are THIRD in yards per rush.
Miles Sanders has proven that he is the best offensive playmaker on this offense, but he has had just three carries in the second half of the last two games combined. Two against Cleveland, one against Seattle. In both games, the Eagles were down by just one score for the majority of the second half. No one can make that make sense.
Similar to Sanders’ situation, receiver Travis Fulgham has also inexplicably seen his opportunities decrease. After leading the entire National Football League in receiving yards over a four game stretch, Pederson decided Fulgham had enough of the limelight. Fulgham has had just 14 targets over the last three games. This is because….? Someone tell me.
The fans and media can blame Carson Wentz as much as they want to for this offense’s struggles. Anyone who has watched the Eagles this year can tell you that Wentz has looked like one of the worst quarterbacks in football all season.
However, to put all the blame on Wentz when he has gotten little to no help from his play-caller, offensive line, or receivers (the Eagles lead the league in drops again this season) would be outright idiotic. Wentz is far from even being average this season, but the main problem on this team has been the play-calling and the coaching.
The Eagles lead the NFL in plays that obviously have no shot.— Kevin Clark (@bykevinclark) December 1, 2020
Before I pop a blood vessel, I have to digress and discuss something else.
The Packers defense is strictly average, as they are middle of the pack against both the rush and the pass. They are underwhelming in terms of takeaways, as Green Bay is in the bottom ten in the league in that category.
However, of the teams in the bottom ten in takeaways, the Packers are the only team with a positive turnover differential. That might just have something to do with the guy they have playing quarterback.
One player on Green Bay’s defense to keep an eye on is pass rusher Za'Darius Smith. The Kentucky product is fifth in the league in sacks with nine and is also tied for second in the league with three forced fumbles. He will have a field day against the Eagles offensive line on Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles offensive game plan this week should be to adopt the ideas of the fan-controlled football league, where the league will allow the fans to call the plays. It couldn’t possibly be worse than continuing to allow Pederson to handle the reigns of the offense.
Eagles Defense vs. Packers Offense
The Eagles defense played fairly well against a top five offense in the league on Monday night, as they played well enough to remain in the top ten in total defense. If the Seahawks didn’t have a literal transformer playing wide receiver, the Eagles might have had a shot.
Unfortunately, the Eagles defense gets rewarded for their great effort with another brutal matchup. The Packers offense is the fourth ranked offense in the league, and they have some of the best playmakers in football.
Darius Slay, the poor guy tasked with guarding the aforementioned transformer, had his worst game as an Eagle on Monday. I am more than willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, however, because he has been fantastic in every other game this season. Slay is a phenomenal football player, but D.K. Metcalf might be a once-in-a-generation guy.
Slay’s job won’t get any easier this week though, as he will be matched up with another elite receiver in Davante Adams. The Fresno State product is the tenth leading receiver in the league, but is the only guy on that top ten list to have missed time due to injury. That should tell you a lot about the kind of damage he does when he’s on the field.
Slay is also listed as questionable with a calf injury heading into Sunday, so that could give Adams even more of an advantage. Something that might work in Slay’s favor, however, is that the former Detroit Lion is used to matching up with Adams, having been division rivals. Hopefully the familiarity leads to success for Slay if he’s able to play.
The other big name for the Packers offense is of course, future first ballot Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers. The former MVP is having yet another MVP caliber season, as he leads the league in passing touchdowns (33) while he has thrown just four interceptions. There is no doubt in my mind he will carve up this defense like a thanksgiving turkey.
Unlike Packers teams of the past, this offense actually has another dimension to it. Running back Aaron Jones has seen tremendous success for the past two seasons as Green Bay’s top back. He’s missed two games this season due to injury, but he has still put up big numbers with 624 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Aaron Rodgers with a legitimate running game is a duo that the league has avoided for years. The league’s defenses can’t avoid it anymore. The Eagles, though they rank in the top ten in defense, are in serious trouble.
Especially considering the Eagles offense won’t be doing the defense any favors.
Eagles defense has had the most opponents drives start in their own territory in NFL 🤔 Because of the offense and their turnovers https://t.co/GF3HxHIFjS— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) December 4, 2020
To have any sort of expectations for the Eagles this weekend against a great Packers team would be downright idiotic. Only a fool would anticipate an Eagles win on Sunday in Lambeau.
It’s me. I’m the fool.
The Eagles absolutely stink. The quarterback is a mess. The coach is a mess. The whole roster is a mess. They are unbearable to watch, are always overmatched and never do anything we want them to. And that’s exactly why I have them winning tonight— Chartisse (@SnowmanEmbiid) November 30, 2020
Wow you guys actually believed that? Folks I wouldn’t pick the Eagles to win this game even if I was offered a million dollars. The Packers are everything the Eagles aren’t. They have competent coaching, a quarterback who never makes mistakes, and they actually have fun playing the game.
No one on the Eagles is having fun right now. Well, except for Jalen Mills when he makes his usually meaningless one play a game. But besides that, no one with a wing on their helmet or a bird on their shirt is enjoying themselves right now.
That won’t change Sunday. The Packers will not only beat the Eagles, they will humiliate the Eagles. Green Bay will take whatever dignity the Birds have left and crush it. This is going to get ugly, quickly. For comparison, think of the Eagles-Saints regular season game from two years ago.
“The Eagles head to Lambeau Field next week to play the Green Bay Packers. Parental discretion is advised.”— Jason Hartelius (@jasonhartelius) December 1, 2020
He’s not wrong.
Couldn’t have said it better myself, Merrill. Packers win, 45-13.
Time: 4:25 p.m.
Radio: 94.1 FM WIP
Online: NFL Gamepass