PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Eagles stumbled into the playoffs by losing five of their final six regular season games, but everything resets in the playoffs.
As they’ve repeatedly said, everyone is 0-0 now. That’s true, but the Eagles will need to play at a higher level than they have over the past six weeks if they have any chance of making a deep postseason run.
Here are three matchups to watch in Monday night’s wild card game between the Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Jalen Hurts vs. Todd Bowles, the blitz
This game will mark the third in Hurts’ career he goes against a defense coached by Bowles. So far, Hurts is 1-1 against Bowles with mixed results.
The first game was Hurts’ playoff debut during wild card weekend against the then-defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers with future Hall of Famer Tom Brady in the 2021 season.
Hurts has grown mightily as a passer since that game but has still struggled against heavy blitz defenses like Bowles. The Eagles’ franchise quarterback is alsoon his throwing hand heading into the playoffs.
Take last week for example. Wink Martindale, now the former defensive coordinator of the New York Giants, blitzed Hurts a ton and Philadelphia’s offense didn’t have any answers for it. And now, Hurts won’t have hiswith a knee injury.
Against the blitz in the regular season, Hurts ranked 28th in the NFL, and the Buccaneers blitz at the third-highest rate in the league.
In Week 3 vs. the Bucs, Hurts went 13 for 23 for 152 yards and zero touchdowns with two interceptions with a 40.5 quarterback rating.
Eagles secondary vs. Bucs WRs
Heading over to the defensive side of the ball, the Eagles’ secondary will have their hands full with Tampa wideouts Chris Godwin and Mike Evans.
Evans and Godwin each put up 1,000-yard seasons in Baker Mayfield’s first season as the team’s starting quarterback.
Godwin dealt with a knee injury throughout the week, but he practiced fully on Saturday.
In the Week 3 matchup, the Eagles’ defense limited Evans and Godwin to a combined eight catches, 92 yards and one score. But as we know, much has changed since that Monday Night Football in September for the Eagles.
During that game, defensive coordinator Sean Desai was calling the defensive plays for the Eagles. But midway through the season, the Eagles demoted Desai and made
Since Patricia became the team’s play caller before Week 15 vs. the Seattle Seahawks, the Eagles’ defense has been shredded by opposing offenses through the air and gashed on the ground.
The Eagles will get back starting cornerback Darius Slay, but they’ll be without rookie safety Sydney Brown, and starting safety Reed Blankenship is listed as questionable with a groin injury.
Eagles DL vs. Bucs OL
The Eagles’ defensive line was historically good last season. They recorded 70 sacks in the regular season, which ranks third all-time behind the 1984 Chicago Bears and 1989 Minnesota Vikings.
It’s been a much different story this year. They recorded 43 in the regular season, which ranks 20th in the NFL, and some of their top pass rushers haven’t been able to get to the quarterback.
Haason Reddick, the team’s top pass rusher, hasn’t recorded a sack since Dec. 10 against the Dallas Cowboys after having 11 this season. Josh Sweat, the team’s other tope edge rusher, hasn’t gotten the quarterback since Nov. 5 against Dallas.
Rookie defensive tackle Jalen Carter had a hot start to the season, but he’s only had two 2.5 sacks since November.
With Mayfield listed as questionable with ankle and ribs injuries, the Eagles’ defense line will need to take advantage and generate a pass rush to help out the secondary on Monday night if they have any chance in the postseason.