Philadelphia's Keys To Success: Five Ways The Eagles Can Beat The 49ers
This Sunday night the Philadelphia Eagles travel to the bay, to play the San Francisco 49ers. This game is a deal breaker, not only for Kevin Kolb, but also Mike Singletary and the 49ers, riding the hot seat. This is going to be a big game for both teams.
The Eagles are in a tough situation, with the starter Michael Vick, being injured with bruised rib cartilage. Throwing Kolb back in as the Eagles starter. The biggest X factor for the Eagles, how will Kolb preform under pressure?
On the other side of the ball, the 49ers are now 0-4. A team that was originally supposed to win the NFC West without any trouble, is having a hard time locating their first win of the season. The biggest question going into the game for the 49ers, when will the losing streak end?
Here are five ways the Eagles can beat the 49ers on Sunday Night:
5. Use The 49ers 0-4 Record Against Them
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When you are on a team that was originally supposed to be 4-0, and four weeks into the season you are 0-4, your in desperation mode. This works on almost all facets of the 49ers game. Coach Singletary is on the hot seat, so is starting QB Alex Smith (who is inching closer to draft bust status), and at this point another loss for the 49ers would drop team morale even further.
The Eagles can turn this desperation into mistakes. Something that seems to be killing the 49ers season. If the Eagles can capitalize on, coaching mistakes, QB mistakes, and defensive mistakes, it will be an entirely new ball game.
I would be shocked if the 49ers did not make radical decisions throughout this game, not only because of their poor record, but the entire nation will be watching them on Sunday Night Football. I'm talking along the lines of, 4th down attempts, onside kicks, and aggressive blitz packages.
This is a season breaking game for the 49ers, advancing to 0-5 is almost impossible to bounce back from. To add more pressure to San Fran, if they drop another game at home, they could see a rapid decrease in fan turnout.
The Eagles should be able to take advantage of the 49ers desperation to win their first game of the season. This will be a clutch game for the Eagles, winning a tough conference game on the road.
4. Get Momentum Early In The Game
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I generally am not an advocate of selecting to receive the ball first, but in this case I think it would do the Eagles a huge favor. This is going to be a rocking 49ers crowd at Candlestick Park, and the best way to quiet a crowd is to put points on the scoreboard as fast as possible.
It would be great to see the Eagles receive the ball and take deep shots down the field, testing the 49ers secondary and setting a tempo for the entire game. Maybe even run the hurry up down the field, and keep the defense guessing.
One thing that will establish the Eagles presence in San Francisco better than anything else, would be a big play from DeSean Jackson. Jackson is the electrifying type of player that could make a statement early on. If Kolb can just get the ball in his hands, the combination of Jackson's speed and agility could make for a fast score.
Their is nothing worse than going on the road, and first drive of the game is a three and out. This gives the opposing team a huge boost, and only makes the home crowd louder the next time on the field.
Although a fast and up-temp game is not Andy Reid's style, this is the kind of play calling that can help win tough away games. This is one of the Eagles toughest games, and it makes it even harder that it is in San Francisco.
If the Eagles can manage a quick first score, look for the crowd to be taken out of the game. Giving the Eagles a significant momentum advantage, throughout the game. My advice- Get the ball to Jackson.
3. The Defense Must Step Up Their Game
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What happened to the Eagles defense that was lock down? The Eagles defense that shut down all-star RBs, and held all-star WRs to no catches? The Eagles defense that blitzed every down, all the time?
It seems to me that the Eagles rocking defense was lost with two happenings. The release of Brian Dawkins to the Denver Broncos. Also the death of the great Jim Johnson, RIP.
The point is, the Eagles defense just hasn't been the same since. Watching the Eagles try to defend the run is just pathetic. The defense apparently can't make tackles until the RB is already fifteen yards down the field. The defensive line has almost no pressure, and there is blown coverages like crazy deep down the field.
This is something that must change if the Eagles want to win games. The craziest part about the Eagles defense, it's not like they are lacking in talented players. Asante Samuel, Trent Cole, Nate Allen, and Stewart Bradley? All of these players are pro-bowl quality, and there is absolutely no reason why they should be allowing offenses to walk all over them.
This season the Eagles defense has not shown much to be proud of. Luckily it is still early, and there is still time to their play around. This is a big game for the defense, they need to show the NFL, that the Eagles defense is legit.
There is literally no way the Eagles can win this game against the 49ers if the defense continues to play the way they have. The 49ers have to many weapons on offense, and they will light up the scoreboard if given the chance.
2. Kevin Kolb Must Play To Win
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On Kolb's last drive, against the Redskins, it seemed like he was afraid to throw the ball down the field. Throughout the drive he was just throwing little dump off passes to LeSean McCoy, gaining little to no yardage down the field.
This is not how you run an offense, especially a two-minute offense. Kolb needs to look for his deep threats down the field, like Jeremy Maclin and Jackson. This is a killer receiving combo, and there were several situations, last week, where Maclin and Jackson were open down the field and Kolb failed to throw the ball to them.
Instead of Kolb looking for the short underneath passes, he should test the 49ers and try to throw the ball down the field aggressively. I am not suggesting that every play Kolb should bomb the ball 80 yards down the field, but at least take some chances.
This may be the biggest game of Kolb's career, if he fails to prove that he can be an NFL QB, he could find himself without a job. Kolb is getting his second chance. If he performs in this game the way he has in his last two, he will be out of a job.
I have my fingers crossed, I hope Kolb can show he can actually play at an NFL level, and win the Eagles the game. However, if he performs the way he has in his past few games, there is absolutely no chance the Eagles can win this game.
With Vick injured, it's Kolb's time.
1. The Eagles Defense Must Stop Frank Gore
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Every time I think about Frank Gore, one word comes to mind- Beast.
Gore may be the best RB in the entire NFL, having the ability to slam the ball on the inside, having hands like a WR, and being able to block in the backfield like a tackle. Gore is a rare breed of RB, and it rarely to never that he has a bad game. Coach Singletary has made it a point to make the 49ers a running team, and Gore if the guy to do it.
The Eagles defense has had a very difficult time stopping the rushing game, and Gore will abuse them up and down the field. Unless, the Eagles come into the game prepared to slow down Gore. That's right. There is literally no way to stop Frank Gore, your best bet is just to try to slow him down.
The Eagles currently have the 27th ranked run defense, which is something the Gore has been eyeing up all week. If the Eagles allow Gore to run the ball consistently, they will lose. This is the most important aspect in the Eagles walking out of this game as winners.
I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach that the night will go one of two ways. Path #1- The Eagles defense comes prepared and limits Gore to minimal yardage, forcing the 49ers to rely on Alex Smith. Path #2- The Eagles defense continues to struggle stopping the run, allowing Gore to lead the 49ers to victory.
My guess is Reid is drilling the defense 100% on run defense, because he knows how Gore can tear apart a defense. This should be an interesting to see how the Eagles respond to Gore, seeing how he is the biggest factor in this game.
I think everything combined, Gore, an away game, and no Vick, will just prove to be to much for the Eagles to overcome. Unfortunately, there really is little chance that Kolb will do well enough to squeak out a victory through pure offensive force. The defense more than likely won't be able to contain Gore, allowing the 49ers to manage the clock to their liking, and put up enough points to win.
Final Prediction: Eagles- 17 49ers- 28