5 key matchups Eagles need to win to beat Seahawks

5 key matchups Eagles need to win to beat Seahawks

After crushing their last four opponents by an average of 26.75 points per game, things are about to get a little tougher for the Eagles

As you might have heard, the Eagles (10-1) have beaten just one team with a winning record this season. They're about to play two back to back.

Before they play the Rams in L.A., they'll have to take on the Seahawks (7-4) in CenturyLink Field, where Seattle is traditionally really tough to beat. It's worth noting, however, that the Seahawks have lost their last two home games.

Seattle hasn't lost three straight home games since 2008.

But the Eagles have a real chance to make that happen this weekend. Here are five matchups to watch Sunday night: 

Russell Wilson vs. Eagles D 
The days of the Seahawks being a run-first team are long gone. This offense is extremely reliant on Wilson's ability to throw the football. And some of the things he's been able to do this season are amazing. 

Wilson has thrown for over 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns in the first 11 games this season. But what makes Wilson so dangerous is his ability to run. And it's not just scrambling. Wilson can buy time and still deliver downfield. 

Jim Schwartz said Wilson is unique because he can escape the pocket vertically, where most passers can do it horizontally. 

"You have to stay alive on everything," Schwartz said. "Our D-linemen are going to have to do a great job staying on their feet and staying alive. You can never go to sleep because if he's scrambling one way, there's a good chance he's coming back to you. We have to stay alive in coverage as well as our rush, and he threatens the whole width of the field and the whole length of the field."

Wilson basically plays backyard football and is the Seahawks' entire offense. It'll take a group effort to stop him. 

Doug Baldwin vs. Eagles corners
We mentioned that the Seahawks are a pass-happy offense these days and Baldwin is their main receiver. He already has 58 catches for 698 yards and four touchdowns this season. 

Baldwin is a speedy receiver, but the good news for the Eagles is that his big plays have come from the left side of the field. He has four catches for 111 yards on 20-plus plays to the left side of the field, according to ProFootballFocus. That's important to note, because that's the side of the field where Ronald Darby lines up. Darby is the Eagles' fastest outside corner. 

Jimmy Graham vs. Malcolm Jenkins
Graham is starting to become that weapon we all remember him being. This season, he has 49 catches for 447 yards and eight touchdowns. Only one player in the NFL has more receiving touchdowns (DeAndre Hopkins has nine).

Graham has been really dangerous in the red zone. He has more red-zone targets (21), receptions (13) and touchdowns (eight) than any other player in the league. 

Maybe he's not the Graham we once saw in New Orleans, but this guy is pretty damn dangerous and it'll be up to Jenkins to slow him down. 

Carson Wentz vs. Earl Thomas
The Seahawks have lost Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, but they still have at least one great player in their secondary. Thomas is still playing at a ridiculously high level. 

While there are maybe a few occasions where Thomas is down in the box now that Chancellor is out, he's still a true free safety, centerfielder. 

"Anytime you have a safety like that, that has free rein to be all over the field, that's big," Wentz said. "That's big to just know where he's at, at all times. Pick up on some tendencies, which there aren't many because he does kind of fly around and he's got no real responsibility. It seems like the coach just tells him to make plays and fly around and he does a great job of that. You just have to be smart with using your eyes and knowing where he's at, at all times."

Halapoulivaati Vaitai vs. Michael Bennett 
Bennett leads the Seahawks with 7½ sacks this season and although he wasn't mentioned in the group of top pass rushers the Eagles will face this season, he has been very disruptive. 

The interesting thing about Bennett is that he's normally on the left side of the defensive line but will move to the right side, too. According to ProFootballFocus, he has 313 pass rush snaps from the left and just 60 from the right. He's also been much more productive on the defensive left. Of his 52 total pressures, 47 have come from the left. 

But facing the Eagles, that would mean going against Lane Johnson, who is playing at an All-Pro level. It'll be interesting to see what the Seahawks do, but it would make plenty of sense to see them flip Bennett to the defensive right to go against Vaitai instead. 

Johnson said he thinks he'll have Bennett over him plenty on Sunday, but knows the Seahawks like to move him around. 

"They'll bounce him around," Johnson said. "They pick a matchup they like and keep him there." 

Brian Dawkins chooses longtime teammate for Hall of Fame intro

USA Today Images

Brian Dawkins chooses longtime teammate for Hall of Fame intro

Brian Dawkins has chosen longtime teammate and close friend Troy Vincent to introduce him this summer at Dawk's Hall of Fame induction.

Dawkins was selected in February for enshrinement in the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.

"The presenter that will actually be on the stage will be Troy Vincent," Dawkins said in a video posted on the Pro Football Hall of Fame's website.

"My teammate in Philadelphia. We came there the same year. Almost from Day 1 he kind of ... not kind of, he took me under his wing on becoming a professional. Not just a football player but a professional. The details. The details that he went through, the particulars of how he played the position of cornerback was the same way he lived his life (and ran) his businesses that he had off the field.

"He's a guy I can call anytime. Any time of night. And tell him 100 percent all what's going on with me, and I know he's not going to judge me, and it's not going to leave his lips (for) anybody else.

"And the most important thing for me, being a man of faith, is that I know he's going to pray with me. So all those things combined are the reasons why Troy was the perfect guy to introduce me to the Hall of Fame."

Vincent, a native of Trenton and graduate of Pennsbury High in Fairless Hills, Bucks County, spent his first four seasons with the Dolphins before signing an offer sheet with the Eagles before the 1996 season that the Dolphins didn't match.

The Eagles drafted Dawkins in the second round a month after signing Vincent, and the two spent eight years together in the secondary, reaching the playoffs five times and the NFC Championship Game three times.

During those eight seasons, Vincent reached Pro Bowls and Dawkins made the first three of his nine Pro Bowls.

Vincent retired after the 2006 season and Dawkins after the 2011 season.

Dawkins, Vincent and Eric Allen are the only Eagles defensive backs picked to five or more Pro Bowls.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.

Dawkins' former Eagles teammate, Terrell Owens, will also be inducted. He hasn't yet announced who will present him.

Dawkins will be the 21st former Eagle inducted into the Hall of Fame but only the ninth who spent the majority of his career with the Eagles.

Was Carson Wentz sending Nick Foles a message with Instagram video?

USA Today Images

Was Carson Wentz sending Nick Foles a message with Instagram video?

Offseason quarterback controversies are a rite of passage in the NFL. A time-honored tradition, really. 

We’ve certainly had our share in Philadelphia over the years. There were calls for Ron Jaworski to sit in favor of a young Randall Cunningham. Then cries for Jim McMahon to take Randall’s place. When Andy Reid drafted Kevin Kolb in 2007, that began a groundswell that he was the better choice than Donovan McNabb. Of course, most recently we had the Michael Vick/Nick Foles back and forth. To look back now, it seems silly these were even debates.

Most of the time, when you have these “controversies,” it generally means you have no quarterback on your roster. Not always. The 49ers in the late-80’s and early-90’s had Joe Montana and Steve Young, both Hall of Famers and all-time great quarterbacks. Both also won Super Bowls for San Francisco. But that is the exception. So is the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles’ situation.

I use the word “situation” and not “controversy.” Because there is no controversy. If Wentz is cleared by the Eagles’ medical staff, he starts Week 1. Period. What Foles did was incredible and will go down as one of the great — if not the greatest — stretch we have seen in Philadelphia sports history. He came up as big as you can. But Wentz he is not. That’s no disrespect to Foles. There are a handful of people on the planet who are in Wentz’s class.

Just a refresher course on what Wentz did in 13 games last season (his second in the NFL, by the way). He threw for 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 3,296 passing yards and had a 101.9 passer rating. The 33 TDs were the second-most in the NFL despite his missing the final three games. He also led his team to an 11-2 record before succumbing to that knee injury late into that Rams game that clinched the NFC East. He would have been the league MVP had he not gotten hurt.

There is a great luxury having Foles on this team. Wentz does not have to come back before he is able. If he’s not ready, you have the best backup in the league to start the season. But that’s the only scenario in which Foles plays Week 1. Simply put: Wentz is the better quarterback. And he has earned the right to start the opener if cleared. 

Some people read into Wentz's Instagram video of himself throwing earlier in the week as him somehow sending a message to Foles. I don’t buy it. I think Wentz’s message was to the fans and himself that I’ll be back, better than ever.

Wentz and Foles are both good teammates who put the team above themselves. Sure, Foles is a competitor and would likely prefer to start. But there won’t be any behind-the-scenes maneuvering to undercut Wentz. And Wentz is secure enough to be able to handle a Super Bowl MVP backing him up and all that goes along with that. Not to mention a coaching staff and organization that won’t allow outside noise to become a distraction.

Wentz over Foles. There’s no quarterback controversy.