With expected bad weather, Eagles need to focus on running vs. 49ers
With the best record in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles will host the winless San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles (6-1) are coming off an impressive win over the Washington Redskins. The 49ers (0-7) have really struggled this season.
The Eagles are on a five-game winning streak behind the outstanding play of quarterback Carson Wentz who leads the NFL with a career-high 17 touchdown passes. Wentz has completed 143-of-232 passing attempts for 1,852 yards. He has connected on 61.6 percent of his passes.
The Eagles top receivers are tight end Zach Ertz (39 catches for 494 yards and 5 TDs), wide receivers Nelson Agholor (24 receptions for 366 yards and 5 TDs) and Alshon Jeffery (26 receptions for 354 yards and 2 TDs). The Birds have been able to move the ball extremely well through the air.
With rainy weather expected on Sunday, the Eagles will probably need a strong effort from their running attack. Running back LeGarrette Blount is the team’s leading rusher with 419 yards. Blount is averaging 5.0 yards a carry.
Although the Eagles have been playing extremely well, the team sustained two key injuries against the Redskins: offensive tackle Jason Peters and linebacker Jordan Hicks. Peters has a torn ACL and MCL. Hicks has a ruptured Achilles. Both players are out for the season.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai replaced Peters, a nine-time Pro Bowler, at offensive tackle against the Redskins. Vaitai was able to hold his own.
“He played solid,” said Frank Reich, Eagles offensive coordinator. “That’s a tough thing to do, to walk in and not only just to play that position, but filling in those shoes right there for Jason Peters. But he did a good job.”
Linebacker Najee Goode stepped for Hicks after his injury against Washington. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz feels Goode can play in a couple of places at linebacker.
“Najee is another guy who can play inside, he can play outside,” Schwartz said. “He did different things in our base and nickel packages. He’s been a very good special teams player for us. I like his flexibility. He’s a smart player. He’s another guy that can step up and fill some roles for us.”
The big thing is the Eagles can’t take the 49ers lightly.
“Nobody looks past anybody,” Schwartz said. “I mean, everybody understands this league. We have a good group of veteran players. And we faced a couple of teams this year that came in with no wins. Doesn’t change the job that we have. And I like the maturity of our players to be ready every week. I think that’s one of the things that I like about our defense.”