‘We’ve Gotta Really Turn It Up’
The Eagles have been averaging 30 points on offense over their last five games. The offensive line and (consequently) the running game is beginning to click, their quarterback is playing pretty well and the head coach knows how to scheme it up. There’s reason enough for this unit to be feeling good about itself as it hits the home stretch.
Sunday’s opponent is a different beast, though, and everybody inside the NovaCare seems to be bracing for some tough sledding ahead.
“I don’t think we go into it thinking [our defense] has to win the game but there is a difference between our offense going against anybody else’s defense and our offense going against Seattle,” Malcolm Jenkins acknowledged. “You do realize this is probably going to be a defensive struggle. We don’t expect our offense to go in and put up 35 points on this defense.”
The Seahawks boast the league’s top-ranked ‘D’. It’s the only unit in the NFL that is allowing under 300 yards per game (286) on average. Dan Quinn‘s group has taken its play to another level of late, holding its last two opponents (Arizona and San Francisco) to three points each.
“Struggling for them is probably giving up 14 points. I think a lot of people would take struggling if it’s playing that well,” said Chip Kelly, when asked about the Seahawks’ improvement on defense recently. “But they’re really clicking right now.”
This will be Mark Sanchez‘s stiffest test since taking over. Seattle is third against the pass, allowing under 200 passing yards per game. Certainly Richard Sherman — who had a pair of interceptions against the Niners last week — has something to do with that, but the problems do not stop there.
“If you spend too much time worrying about one guy, they have so many playmakers, you know?” said Sanchez. “They’ve got [Cliff] Avril and [Michael] Bennett and guys all over the field. Both corners are playing really well. Obviously their safeties are two of the best in the league. It’s one of the best secondaries we’ll play. Those guys are good because the D-line is good and the D-line is good because the secondary is good, and then the ‘backers fly around and make their own plays. We’re going to have our hands full. We’ve gotta really turn it up.”
Added Pat Shurmur: “We just have to run our offense. If we call the progression that happens to be over to the right, then we’ve got to read it out properly and throw it to the open guy, and the same can be said if we call one to the left or one in the middle of the field. So you know, that’s the way we’re going to approach it. We certainly have a healthy respect for the fact that [Sherman] is one of the finest corners in the league, but I do think we’ve got some good receivers that can go out and match up.”
Chris Polk and Trey Burton (hamstring) sat out practice Tuesday. Emmanuel Acho (groin) was participating, though Billy Davis suggested he is still limited. Nick Foles (collarbone) has not been cleared to practice but continues to throw on the side.