Sunday sees Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints come to town for week 5 of the NFL season and with both teams having wobbly starts to the year, anything other than a win is unacceptable for both parties. But both teams have endured similar fates so far.
Both teams started the season on a 1-3 record
Both teams have questionable Defensive presence
Both teams have Quarterback’s who have changed styles recently
Both teams have a running back core that’s underperforming,
But that’s just for starters, if you look at certain players head to head..things get spookily similar.
Brees vs Bradford
Injury has hampered Drew Brees’ season so far, but it didn’t stop the Superbowl winning Quarterback from throwing for over three hundred yards against Dallas for a pair of touchdowns. He might have lost his main Offensive weapon in Jimmy Graham, but it hasn’t stopped the 15 year veteran from throwing for four touchdowns and over 900 yards already. Brees has been much more passive this season however. His accuracy is a model for any QB in the league to follow but has approached this season with a weakened receiving core by throwing short to get into very makeable third downs…something the Eagles have struggled with. We’re used to seeing Drew Brees air deep balls down the field but instead he’s shied away from that in favour of wheel routes, slants and mid range gains.
Sam Bradford on the other hand has also started a little inconsistent and boasted a similar record to Brees. The two are separated by just 19 yards. Both have thrown two less interceptions than touchdowns and didn’t throw an interception last week.
Where Bradford differs however is that he’s a flip of Drew Brees. After being so used to playing the short pass, circumstances demanded a change and he simply had to air the ball deep down the field. But Bradford did what was asked of him and found three receivers for touchdowns on gains of over 30 yards. Both used a wheel route to score a touchdown as well, with Ryan Mathews topping a breakout game against the Jets two weeks ago whilst Spiller was able to seal the win for the Saints last week on the same route.
Both Quarterbacks possess an inherit ability to place the ball perfectly into their receivers hands and have demonstrated that ability throughout their career. Both will need all the help they can possibly get from their wide receivers however if they are to succeed in week five.
The Saints receiving core is also scarily similar to the Eagles. Neither team has a receiver inside the top 20 in the NFL but whilst statistically similar, the situations are what split the two. The Saints don’t have a lot of firepower at the wideout position with Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks running things, both picking up over 200 yards. The overall receiving Offense however sits outside the top 20 and behind Philadelphia.
The difference is that the Eagles receiving corp is stacked…it’s just not making plays. Miles Austin and Riley Cooper bring the physical edge and experience to the table while Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor and Josh Huff aim to bring the explosive youth side of things to the table. But 15 dropped passes and until last week an inability to break free from coverage has cost the team dearly. So the question is…which teams receiving unit is going to have the bigger game? Can the Eagles finally work out the chemistry issues before Drew Brees can work out a way to throw deep down the field like he used to?
Much like the wide receivers this is also very similar but situationally different. The Saints have Mark Ingram and C.J Spiller in charge of things in the back field whilst former Saints running back Darren Sproles joins DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews for the birds. The Eagles have just 60 less rushing yards than the Saints on seven less attempts.
Most of the Eagles rushing problems stem from the Offensive Line and trying to make a North/South runner play in an East/West Offense..or alternatively making the Offensive Line adjust to running the ball out of the shotgun for DeMarco Murray to become a threat…but it hasn’t worked. Mathews is the only running back to hit 100 yards in a game for the Eagles this season and the situation isn’t much better in New Orleans.
Remember when DeMarco Murray ran for 36 yards off of 8 carries last week? Mark Ingram carried nine times for 24 yards against the Cardinals just a couple of games beforehand. The Saints are forced into grinding 2-3 yard gains after coming up against good defensive fronts and now face an Eagles run D that is ranked as one of the best in the league. The Eagles on the other hand have had Offensive Line woes from the start, causing the running game to be of minimal effect…noticing a pattern yet?
Whilst as individual units they differ, as an overall again..both teams Defenses are similar in more than just one way. Whilst the Saints secondary has struggled all year giving up big yards, the Eagles have had a pass rush that’s almost non existent and a Defense that can’t get off the field.
The Eagles should have the advantage over the Saints wide receivers, but Brees is going to presumably have a lot of time to throw the ball which balances out. With both run games struggling, a lot of the success this week is going to come down to the Defense. The Eagles are yet to concede a rushing touchdown and have been witness to some sensational interceptions whilst the Saints have let up big rushing yards and have fell weak at the Secondary position…so each teams Defensive advantages should be cancelled out due to the Offensive disadvantages theoretically, thus making them extremely similar.
EVEN THE KICKERS….EVEN THE KICKERS ARE SIMILAR. Caleb Sturgis was subject to a 33-yard field goal miss and a wide PAT that arguably cost his team the game. Saints Kicker Zach Hocker’s 30 yard miss almost cost the team a win in the final moments of regulation….
We are definitely heading for a high scoring shootout and there will be plenty more analysis on what the Eagles need to do to fight “themselves” coming up over the next few days. What do you guys think? Are the Eagles facing a clone of themselves?