Panic has begun in Philadelphia after the Eagles dropped two straight games to the Cowboys and Saints. Coming into the season as a reliable backup, Gardener Minshew proved to be the opposite in his most recent outing. The Eagles now come down to a week 18 scenario where a win gets them the #1 seed and the NFC East, or it’s in the hands of the Dallas Cowboys or San Francisco 49ers.
Let’s look at the hungry dog (player/coach of the game) and bird in the doghouse (worst player/coach of the game) performances against the New Orleans Saints.
I’ll also predict the best and worst performers in the Eagles’ upcoming matchup with the New York Giants.
Week 17 – Hungry Dog, Saints @ Eagles
I’m going to go against popular opinion and pick Jonathan Gannon’s defense for the hungry dog here.
The zone coverages were not a deal breaker for me, as I look at the points a defense allows over anything else. The Eagles’ defense allowed 13 points through four quarters and recorded seven sacks on Andy Dalton and Taysom Hill combined. In any week in the NFL, this performance is enough to give the offense a chance and win a game. The 13 points were allowed in the first half, and the Eagles’ defense forced five straight punts in the second half.
The offense was not able to take advantage of said defensive stops. This may be a controversial opinion since Gannon is typically the easy scapegoat by fans and media, week to week.
- Gannon’s defense held Andy Dalton to just 204 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception.
- Taysom Hill passed for only 24 yards and ran 46 yards and one touchdown.
- Alvin Kamara rushed for 74 yards and zero touchdowns.
- They did not allow a Saints wide receiver to reach 100 receiving yards.
This is a performance that will win a game nine times out of 10 and redeem themselves after last week’s performance against the Dallas Cowboys.
Week 17 – Bird In The Doghouse, Saints @ Eagles
Last week I predicted that Shane Steichen would drop Gardener Minshew back excessively and avoid running the football. In this case, I hate being right.
- Miles Sanders averaged 5.1 yards per carry, yet he only had 12 total carries.
- Boston Scott had two carries, and Kenneth Gainwell had zero.
- Although Minshew was able to distribute the ball to AJ Brown and Devonta Smith, it’s clear no adjustments were made to counter the injury to Lane Johnson.
It affected Minshew, who was hit nine times and sacked six times. Steichen never countered the consistent pressure Minshew faced, which is why he completed only 18/32 of his passes, threw one interception, and fumbled twice.
Luckily, both fumbles were recovered by the offense. The stagnant Eagles offense mustered only 10 points with multiple opportunities. Steichen has to figure out a way to mass protect and take the pressure off the quarterback, or Jalen Hurts could face similar frustrations in next week’s return. Failure to adjust could end the Eagles’ season quicker than expected.
Week 18 – Hungry Dog Prediction, Giants @ Eagles
There is good news for the Eagles. The New York Giants clinched a playoff spot with a win over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. It’s possible that because they did, starters could be rested in their week 18 matchup against the Eagles in Philadelphia. Jalen Hurts sat out two straight weeks with a sprained shoulder, but the team seems to have a precautionary mindset.
If the Dallas Cowboys beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 15, it’s possible Jalen Hurts would have played in week 16. The Eagles were confident Gardener Minshew would get the job done in weeks 16 and 17, and the gamble didn’t pay off.
- Hurts is my hungry dog prediction against the Giants.
He has progressed in practice over the last week, throwing on the run and participating in drills. It appears that keeping him out was precautionary, and he appears to be healing. He is my hungry dog pick against the New York Giants for week 18. He will pick apart the Giants’ defense as he did in week 14, as he’ll be hungry to return.
He’ll prove why he’s the MVP and why the team runs with him. He’ll have an easier time against the Giants’ reserves.
In the previous matchup, the Giants’ defensive backs could not cover AJ Brown and Devonta Smith, and I have every reason to believe they won’t be able to in this game. The Giants struggle to consistently sack the quarterback, and I believe that continues here, even with Lane Johnson’s injury.
Week 18 – Bird In The Doghouse Prediction, Giants @ Eagles
Although I believe that Jalen Hurts will revive the Eagles’ offense and mistakes will lessen in his return, I can’t help but worry about Shane Steichen. The Eagles successfully ran the ball for 253 yards against the Giants in the last matchup, and they must commit to that formula. Pass blocking could be an issue with Lane Johnson sitting this week, and Steichen must adjust.
He is my prediction for the bird in the doghouse this week. Even if the Giants decide to play their reserves, Steichen could drop Jalen Hurts back repeatedly, putting stress on his sprained shoulder. The Eagles are likelier to lose games without Lane Johnson, and he needs to be aware of that. It would be beneficial to get creative with the tight ends and running backs using mass protection so the offensive line can create holes and take the stress off Hurts.
Running the ball would also allow the Eagles to eat the clock and keep the Giants’ offense off the field. Steichen needs to show his versatility, especially if he wants to earn a head coaching job in 2023.
How’d I do?
Who would be your hungry dog and bird in the doghouse picks for the Eagles’ game against the New Orleans Saints?
Who would you pick in the week 18 matchup against the New York Giants?