Ready For Ya, Niners
Q&A: Birds Have Favorable Matchups Vs. S.F.
The Philadelphia Eagles find themselves just one win from the Super Bowl after channeling their early season success in a win against the New York Giants.
On the latest “Q&A” podcast on Inside The Birds, former Eagles standouts Jason Avant and Quintin Mikell reviewed the team’s NFC Divisional round win and previewed the upcoming NFC Championship against the San Francisco 49ers.
Quintin Mikell: “If you come out and connect on that first play, especially a deep ball like that, it sets the tone and makes you feel confident. That was a great confidence-builder, great play design, and really showed that Jalen is close to 100% if not 100%.”
Jason Avant: “Once you make a play like that, the easy ones are easy right now. If I can complete a 40-yarder on the second play, I’m in my bag. Everything was pretty tight for most of the game after that. I think we saw him try to get loose a little bit in the run game. I saw him lower his shoulder a few times, the option was there. Decision-making was pretty good; he gave it when it needed to be given and pulled it when he needed to. In comparison to the last Giants game, it was great. You can tell he’s been in the lab.”
Quez Watkins/Zach Pascal
Avant: “Quez hasn’t made the most of his opportunities this year. Yes, he’s had some explosive plays, but when you look back over the season, there are some dropped balls in critical situations, some fumbles and things of that nature, a couple of plays where they were intercepted against the Cowboys, all of those things in the NFL put you in the doghouse. When you have the ups and downs that you have, coaches start to get a little hesitant on what they can do with you. Zach Pascal is a needed player. He’s not a shiny player, but he’s needed when it comes to digging out the safety, cut off the backside defensive end on a run play, to chipping a Nick Bosa that’s rushing on the edge, when you need a run play run to the nickel position and he can dominate that guy and get some movement, and you also need him when DeVonta Smith or A.J. Brown runs a quick screen in order to get that screen started. You begin to see some of those reps split because Quez doesn’t do those minor things because of body type.”
Avant: “I think it’s getting back to early in the season. There was a time in this football game where it looked like the early season Eagles because of the plays that were being run. There were sustained drives and they were preeminent running the ball. When you look at the statline for Jalen Hurts, it was 24 pass attempts. That means that they had 44 rushing attempts. When you make up in your mind that we can run the ball against this team, you’re going to see some 12 personnel.”
Mikell: “He’s been playing lights-out. He can rush, stunt, can beat you with hand movement or speed, can drop into coverage. He’s my favorite player on this defense right now.”
Avant: “It’s tough to touch him because he can bend and his hands are just constantly moving. Once he gets that shoulder past you, it’s a wrap.”
Avant: “That was a great pick by him, reading the eyes of the quarterback. The QB just wasn’t paying attention at all and I like that. I like the opportunistic defense; you have to play with aggression. I don’t know if that was because C.J. (Gardner-Johnson) is back, but it was a veteran player, a blitz call, and guess what veterans do when a blitz is called? They make a play.”
Mikell: “We’ve been saying this the whole year. Think of how many more picks and sacks this team could have had if they stayed this aggressive all year?
San Francisco 49ers
Avant: “They are talented. The Eagles match up against this team really well, though. Our receivers versus their corners is a winning matchup for us. They can beat those guys in one-on-one situations, and when it’s time to throw the ball down the field, we have to let it. If we can get our DBs to be on their receivers, that’s a winning matchup. (Brandon) Aiyuk is a really good route-runner and Deebo (Samuel) is a really good football player, but when it comes to flat out beating (Darius) Slay and Bradberry, it’s going to be a tough ask to just line up and beat them…What worries me is their disguising and schemes versus our (offensive) front. I think our front is better than them, but DeMeco Ryans can potentially confuse Jalen. They disguise blitzing really well.”
Mikell: “They disguise well, but there are a lot of opportunities for this Eagles offense. You have Fred Warner on the line of scrimmage and then dropping into the deep middle, that’s an opportunity right there, a chance to make a play. It’s a fine point between disguising too much and getting yourself out of position, and I see that a lot happening with this Niners defense. This offense has to be ready to take advantage of these situations.”
Avant: “I’m afraid for T.J. Edwards in this game [against the 49ers.] This is a very athletic team. Your keys have to be good and one of the ways you can make up for a misstep is to be fast. The Cowboys were faster than the Eagles in the middle of the defense, so they were able to do some stuff to make up. I don’t know if our guys are as fast in the middle. It’s a lot to be asked of them, so the defensive line has to be solid up front. What Kyle Shanahan does a great job of is doing a bunch of formations, different personnel changes that test the rules of your defense.”
– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.
Listen to the latest “Q&A” podcast featuring former Eagles standouts Quintin Mikell and Jason Avant:
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