BLOOMINGTON, Minnesota -- Now that everyone's settled into the Bold North, and now that the insanity of "Opening Night" is well into the rearview, it's time to start focusing in on the game Sunday, isn't it?
It is. Let's.
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One of the matchups that jumps off the page when comparing the Patriots and Eagles is how the two teams will fare when Philly’s defensive line is lined up across from New England's offensive line.
The Eagles have numbers in their favor. They can rotate in and out at will with upwards of eight linemen (seven if Tim Jernigan can't go). They should be fresh late into the game.
The Patriots are well-conditioned, but the Eagles, with Fletcher Cox leading the charge, probably possess the advantage when it comes to sheer talent.
One way the Patriots can try to offset the Eagles' strength is by using their conditioning up front, running an up-tempo offense, and trying to keep certain d-linemen on the field to wear them out.
For instance, if the Patriots get members of Philly's second unit into the game, might they use pace -- without subbing -- to make sure that unit has to play snap after snap.
If the Patriots do opt to sub and use pace, then the officiating crew will allow the Eagles to have an opportunity to sub as well.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said on Wednesday that his group is ready for any kind of quick-to-the-line offense they see.
"A lot of teams run tempo," Schwartz said. "That's not unusual. We’re prepared for that. They sub a lot of personnel groups. They tempo within that. Sometimes it's within the same personnel group. You just have to be good with your subs.
"The officials have really done a good job since tempo came into the NFL of regulating when substitutions are made . . . standing over the ball and making sure you have a chance to match personnel."
The Eagles, as Schwartz explained, have seen their share of up-tempo offenses. But what the Patriots can do with Tom Brady at the helm in those spots -- particularly in the last two minutes of a half when there is no rule allowing defenses time to match subs — can be particularly daunting.
"In some way or fashion, there are 32 offenses in the NFL that use tempo in some regard," he said. "Probably not as good as the Patriots. We're gonna have to really be on board with getting guys in and getting out, matching packages, rotating players the way we do. Certain parts of the field are easier to sub than other parts of the
field. It's going to be a great challenge.”
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Here are a few more quotes of note that came out of Eagles availability on Wednesday . . .
Alshon Jeffery on Stephon Gilmore as a roommate at the University of South Carolina: "I feel like everyone deserves their own personal space. He was a great roommate. It was cool. We got along well. We definitely had some good times. A lot of stories."
Malcolm Jenkins on why the Eagles represent Philadelphia well: "I think we embody what our city is. We're a bunch of guys that don’t care about the glitz and glamour. Very blue collar. We enjoy a fight. We talk a little trash, and we fly around and hit people. We don’t care about the big plays. We enjoy the scrap. We don't want the credit. We don’t want everybody to hype us up. We love proving our point every time we step on the field.”
Nick Foles on having Brett Favre (who played with Doug Pederson) speak to the team on Saturday: "He's been there, he's won the big game, he’s won big games, he's played a lot, a lot of football. So anytime you have an opportunity to listen to someone like him speak, it's huge. I can't wait to listen to what wisdom and knowledge he gives us and I know everyone on our team will be excited to hear him speak."