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The cheat sheet: Should Eagles’ all-out pressure worry Lions?

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Breaking down the matchup between the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles.

Philadelphia Eagles v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Back in 2014, the Detroit Lions faced off against their former head coach Jim Schwartz. Schwartz, victorious in his first matchup against his former team, was carried off the field in victory.

At the time, Schwartz was the Bills defensive coordinator. He limited the Lions to only 204 passing yards, sacked Matthew Stafford six times, and held the Lions to just one third-down conversion in the entire game.

Now that was five years ago, and these teams are certainly different. But I think Schwartz will still want to stick it to his former team after all of these years—especially after the Lions got their revenge in 2016 when Schwartz had moved to the defensive coordinator position in Philadelphia.

One thing that stood out during the Eagles Week 2 matchup against the Falcons is Schwartz’s propensity to blitz.

He typically wants to create pressure with four rushers and play coverage, but with injuries across the defensive line, he made it a priority to manufacture pressure rather than getting picked apart by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.

According to the Eagles official website, Matt Ryan completed just five passes, with one interception, a sack, and a touchdown when the Eagles blitzed. Now, that one touchdown ended up being the game-winner, but for the majority of the game, Schwartz’s blitz packages were working

Even with all that success, Schwartz didn’t appear to raise his blitz rate in last week’s game. He blitzed 18 percent of snaps against the Falcons. Last year’s average was just over 16 percent for the entire season and that ranked third-fewest in the NFL.

More fascinating than just the blitzes were the number of all-out blitzes the Eagles ran last Sunday.

Matt Ryan said it was “probably the most all-out pressure I’ve seen in my entire career.”

The Lions offensive line looked better last week at home, but they’ll be tested against a tough Eagles’ defense on the road.

Philadelphia Eagles v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Opponent snapshot

The Eagles’ biggest question mark at this point is around their health. We’re just a few weeks into the season and they’ve already lost several key contributors on offense, including tight end Dallas Goedert and wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson.

In fact, they’re so beaten up, they altered their practice schedule on Wednesday to a simple walkthrough.

Without their top weapons, that leaves tight end Zach Ertz along with wide receivers Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and Mack Hollins to pick up the slack.

Eagles’ biggest threat

Carson Wentz

Wentz didn’t look 100 percent last week. He took several big shots throughout that game, but he still made some unbelievable plays when counted down the stretch.

And if it weren’t for a dropped ball by Nelson Agholor, the Eagles—not the Falcons—would probably be celebrating a Week 2 victory.

Eagles’ weak link

Secondary

Part of the reason Schwartz was willing to send more all-out pressure last week was due to the fact that the Eagles have a pretty weak secondary.

In Week 1 the Eagles gave up 13 catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns to the Washington Redskins top wideouts.

Those receivers are:

  • Paul Richardson Jr.
  • Terry McLaurin
  • Trey Quinn

I have to admit, I only knew of Paul Richardson, and I completely forgot he wasn’t a member of the Seattle Seahawks anymore.

Last week against the Falcons, they gave up 17 catches for 227 yards and three touchdowns to Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Mohamed Sanu. Obviously, they’re a much better receiving corps, but the results speak for themselves.

The Falcons made it a point to pick on cornerback Ronald Darby throughout the game, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Lions do the same.

Bottom line

I think the Lions might be catching the Eagles at the right time. They’re coming off a late Sunday night road game in which they lost several key players to injury.

I don’t love the fact that this game is on the road, but I do believe the Lions have the pieces to pull off an upset this week.

Prediction

Lions 20 Eagles 17