Eagles Look To Halt Struggles Against Buccaneers
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By Max Luckan
The struggling Philadelphia Eagles will visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday, hoping to somehow salvage their season at least a little bit with a win that would improve on their current dismal record. The Eagles have lost eight games in a row, and many of the players and coaches, including head coach Andy Reid, have come under fire. Many predict that Reid won’t be back to coach the Eagles next season. They’ll take on a Bucs team that struggled mightily in 2011, but has improved greatly this season and is looking to make a run at the playoffs.
The Eagles are currently sitting at 3-9, which is good enough for last place in the NFC East. After starting off the season 3-1 with wins over the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens, and New York Giants, the Eagles have just gotten worse as the season has progressed. Their last win came in Week Four, and the Eagles have suffered losses against the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Washington Redskins, and Arizona Cardinals. The schedule hasn’t been particularly easy, but the Eagles have sputtered against teams with poor records as well such as the Panthers, so it’s safe to say the season has been a huge disappointment up to this point.
Eagles on Offense
With Michael Vick out of the picture, the Eagles have handed the reins to rookie quarterback Nick Foles. Foles hasn’t been able to spark the offense the way Reid had hoped he would, but the Eagles were able to score 33 points in a loss to the Dallas Cowboys last week.
The running game, which is the best aspect of the Eagles’ offense, hasn’t been effective all year because the Eagles call passing plays most of the time. While LeSean McCoy remains injured, the running game wasn’t very effective beforehand with McCoy because he wasn’t utilized well.
The offensive line has been a catastrophe for Philadelphia this year, which shows that, overall, the offense is in shambles even though they aren’t ranked too poorly in the NFL.
Eagles on Defense
The defense isn’t much better for the Eagles, although there are some bright spots. However, the negative aspects have clearly overshadowed the positive ones this season.
The Eagles’ secondary is comparable to the Bucs’ secondary this year. Both teams have struggled immensely in pass coverage and have been extremely susceptible to the deep ball. Even though the Eagles have top-tier corners such as Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the secondary has been the worst aspect of the defense by far this year, which is something the Bucs can take advantage of. The Eagles like to dial up blitzes, but haven’t been able to do so effectively this year, and this has also contributed to the poor pass coverage.
The Bucs shouldn’t have any trouble putting up points against this Eagles’ defense, but they can’t continue to settle for field goals, as they’ve done in recent weeks.
Eagles Players to Watch
Nick Foles: The rookie quarterback hasn’t played extremely well, but he’s held his own in a tough situation. He could be due for a breakout performance.
Bryce Brown: Brown has been a lone bright spot on offense recently, rushing for 169 yards against the Cowboys. He’s had to replace McCoy, which isn’t easy, but has played relatively well.
Mychal Kendricks: Although Kendricks is a rookie, he’s already taken over many of the key duties on defense along with Fletcher Cox. Kendricks is extremely quick and can rush the passer, so the Bucs will have to keep an eye on him.
The Bucs and Eagles have always had an interesting rivalry. Bucs coach Greg Schiano will matchup with Andy Reid for the first time in his career Sunday. The Eagles lead the series 8-7 including a few playoff wins, but this year, the Bucs look to have the upper hand in what should be a very unique game.
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Max Luckan lives in Tampa, FL and is a sports writer covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and NFL. Luckan has been covering the Buccaneers for a few years now. You can find more of his work at Examiner.com.