Patriots have a lot of Eagle ground to cover
Think Andy Reid.
In other words, when the New England Patriot face the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Super Bowl LII, they’ll get a good look at what they’ve seen from the Kansas City Chiefs over the years since Andy Reid has been there.
They’ll also get a good look at what worked for the Jacksonville Jaguars offense, because their ability to put some of their receivers in space drove the Patriot defense crazy for the better part of two and a half quarters in the AFC Championship Game. It was classic Andy Reid, even though he was likely home with a big sandwich watching on TV.
So the Patriots you can bet in the past week while they were at Gillette Stadium poured over a lot of that tape, as well as what the Eagles have done this year. Especially what they’ve done with backup Nick Foles at quarterback.
“We’re going to game plan all the way through this thing,” Patriots safety Patrick Chung said. “Every little thing we do is going to help us, so we’re going to continue to do that.”
Remember, Eagles coach Doug Pederson is a Reid disciple.
The key will be just how much confidence Pederson has in Foles. If Carson Wentz were healthy, the Patriots would really have their hands full because he was having a superb year, running Pederson’s West Coast style offense to a T, and adding that running option. Foles won’t run, but it will be interesting to the leash Pederson puts on Foles. He averaged just over 5 yards a throw against Atlanta in the Divisional Round win. But against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, Foles averaged over 10 yards a throw. The Eagles allowed him to go vertical.
“They like to get deep down the field,” Patriots corner Malcolm Butler said. “They like to go side-to-side. Like I keep saying, just got to be ready to play and be ready for anything. The best team we’ve faced this year, so just got to be ready to play.”
You know those words are coming from the coach who got off the Patriots team plane on Monday wearing a fedora, Bill Belichick.
But are they the best the Patriots have seen all year? If Wentz were at quarterback, no question. The Steelers still look like the best team the Patriots have faced, but you can’t discount another 13-3 team.
“Bill tells us all the time, good players won’t beat (overcome) bad coaching,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. “So you put their coaches and their scheme together with a lot of really talented players that ehy have on offense, and it shows why they’re a good football team. … so even losing as good of a player as Wentz, they still went out there and won games in the playoffs because the team is really good.”
Belichick is certainly wary of what theEagles do. The question is, how long will it take them to do it against the Patriots? Will they control the clock? Will they do it to the point where they take (as some Reid teams have done) too long?
“You’ve got to defend every blade of grass,” Belichick said. “There’s no place that they can’t get to. They get to everywhere. They get to it in a lot of different ways. … They do a real good job of attacking every inch of the field.”
With a tight end who can also make plays – as one might expect in an offense that tends to go side-to-side more often than not. Thus the Patriots will watch for Eagle tight end Zach Ertz in space.
“He’s savvy,” Chung said. “He’ savvy for a young tight end and he’s good, man. He has good routes. He’s quick. He’s fast for a tight end. He can catch and he’s elusive with the ball. We’ve got to try to slow him down a little bit.”
But the Eagles utilize so many different players, perhaps that’s why Foles has been able to guide them through the NFC into the Super Bowl.
“I think certainly in Philadelphia’s case,” Belichick said, “they didn’t change the offense when they changed quarterbacks.”
What the Patriots want to change is the Eagles’ results.