Nine games into the NFL season and the Eagles have continued to turn heads. From huge victories over Pittsburgh and Minnesota, to their most recent win over Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons, the Eagles have had a tendency to show up in big games at home..but this could debatably be their biggest of the year, as Doug Pederson faces his toughest coaching matchup yet.
Since his arrival, Pete Carroll has completely changed the culture of the Seattle Seahawks. A fiery, aggressive coach who has built the fastest, most ruthless Defense in the NFL, Carroll is coming off of a huge win over the New England Patriots. A game which defined the term “coaching battle” as he clashed with Bill Belichick once again.
Carroll is one of the great coaching minds of the NFL..but also one of the most emotional. In that sense, he’s very similar to Doug Pederson..it’s something that former Eagle Vince Papale picked up on a few months ago:
“However you feel about Pete Carroll, regardless of what is going wrong in a football game, you always look to the sideline and see him with his arm around Russell Wilson telling him, ‘It’s going to be okay. We can get through this. Just take it one play at a time.’ I think that’s the kind of approach we’re going to get from Doug.”
The coaching styles aren’t the only similarity the two share. Both teams have incredible Defenses and arguably the best in the NFC..while their Offense have seemed to stagnate at times due to weakened Offensive Lines and an inconsistent run game.
With this in mind and both teams sharing the same strengths and weaknesses, it’s going to be a true battle of attrition..and coaching. In previous weeks, the somewhat questionable decisions from Doug Pederson while detrimental have gone largely unpunished. The Eagles Defense has been prolific in damage limitation and providing that lifeline for the rookie Head Coach to say yes to going for it on fourth down.
On Sunday however, those mistakes will be sought after by Pete Carroll. The Eagles are averaging 23.6 points per game on the road, while the twelfth man has helped the Seahawks give up an average of just 16.75 per game. Which means every pass, every conversion, every field-goal attempt will be absolutely critical.
Sitting at 6-2-1 and thriving to pass the Cowboys in the race for a top playoff seeding, the Seahawks will be more than fired up coming into a showdown with a team who fell at the final hurdle to the team Seattle are attempting to overtake.
Dan Quinn of course is a former coordinator of Carroll, and his sideline-to-sideline Defense that struggled to contain the Eagles just a few days ago could provide a glimpse into what to expect to a certain degree.
There had been criticism previously from many about the Eagles lack of down-field passes. A rapid yet brutal Seattle Defense will no doubt halt the short-passing game to a point and force Carson Wentz to take some shots down the sidelines and trust in his receivers..which could have its own set of problems.
However, the Seahawks have had a history of giving up big plays and big games to Tight Ends. Travis Kelce, Jared Cook, Rob Gronkowski and Tyler Eifert have all thrived against Seattle’s Offense in the past..but the problem is making that a reality for the Eagles.
Prior to a sudden spike in production, Zach Ertz had been underwhelming to say the least. A big performance here will no doubt be needed if the Eagles are to topple one of the most threatening teams in their division..but getting the ball into the hands of the Eagles biggest playmakers is all going to come down to gameplanning and coaching.
Two Offenses that have endured rollercoaster seasons will face two Defenses at the top of their game. In an aggressive game surrounded by hostility, the Eagles will be attacked from all angles. Hard hits, a difficulty to audible in wake of the Seattle faithful and their biggest strength being weakened on Offense.
For Pete Carroll, it’s once again going to be a coaching showdown..and one that promises to be one of the most thrilling contests of the season from an analytical perspective. Doug Pederson’s errors and flaws will be exploited by Seattle..it’s down to the rookie Head Coach to show his prowess, adapt when needed and simply take what’s given to him.
It will be a game of wits, a game of tension..and in a sense the ultimate Chess match.For the first time this season, Pederson faces one of the most notoriously ruthless coaches in the league..and one way or another, we’re going to learn just how much he’s learned through the opening nine games of his coaching career.