Sanders Train Coming
DiCecco: X-Factors For Birds-Cards
One week after prevailing in monsoon-like conditions at Lincoln Financial Field, the Philadelphia Eagles (4-0) travel to Glendale, Az., to face the Arizona Cardinals (2-2).
Following a 10-point victory over the hapless Carolina Panthers, the Cardinals – who are enduring a bit of an identity crisis – must contend with an Eagles team flush with confidence in the wake of their galvanizing 29-21 win against the Jaguars.
The Eagles, who traditionally haven’t fared well in Arizona, will look to get off to a fast start this week and remain unbeaten.
Let’s take a look at four players poised to make an impact on Sunday afternoon:
RB Miles Sanders: After initially being regarded as a considerable question mark entering the season, Sanders has proven to be a consistent performer in a high-octane Eagles offense, accumulating 80 or more rushing yards in three of his first four games. Furthermore, the fourth-year pro has a distinct sense of decisiveness and conviction as a ball carrier, and appears to have found his footing within the offense. Given the state of Arizona’s run defense, with nose tackle Rashard Lawrence out, I anticipate Sanders garnering a heavy workload to start in an effort to wear down the Cardinals, control the clock, and generate early momentum for a surging offense. Sanders should finish with his second consecutive 100-yard rushing outing.
LB T.J. Edwards: Edwards, the Eagles’ leading tackler, is off to a stellar start to his 2022 campaign. The former undrafted free agent continues to stand out as one of the team’s most noteworthy development stories in recent years, notching 33 tackles (3 for loss), two sacks, two passes defended, and four quarterback hits through four games. The proverbial heartbeat of a rejuvenated second level, Edwards has emerged into a do-it-all linebacker for the Eagles and figures to play a prominent role in slowing down Cardinals running back James Conner and forcing a limited offense to become one-dimensional. The Eagles’ defensive line needs to keep the second level clean and free to swarm in this matchup, where I anticipate Edwards cashing in and having an active afternoon in pursuit of Conner and quarterback Kyler Murray.
WR Greg Dortch: Among the more compelling – albeit under-discussed – storylines this season has been just how impressive Dortch, a 24-year-old undrafted journeyman, has been in place of former second-round pick Rondale Moore, who again finds himself on the mend and carries a questionable designation into the weekend. In the three games without Moore, Dortch compiled 21 receptions (third), 204 yards (second), and a touchdown (third) on 23 targets while being deployed in a similar capacity. The 5-foot-7, 175-pound receiver possesses terrific short-area quickness and elusiveness after the catch. With the Eagles presumably selling out to slow Marquise Brown and Zach Ertz, that could create opportunities for Dortch to find success in the short to intermediate areas.
OLB Markus Golden: Golden has gotten off to a quiet start, producing just eight tackles and four quarterback hits through four games, but he proved disruptive when the two teams met in Glendale two seasons ago. Golden’s quickness, tenacity, and veteran savvy could pose a problem for an Eagles offensive line already down stalwart left tackle Jordan Mailata. If Arizona’s plan for slowing Jalen Hurts is contingent upon incessant pressure, I’d expect them to scheme up ways to isolate Golden on Mailata’s replacement, Jack Driscoll.
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
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