It’s time. It’s finally here. The first playoff game for Carson Wentz.
After a stellar four week stretch where Wentz played with the some guys the team found at Sheetz (better than WaWa don’t @ me), the fourth year quarterback is playing in the playoffs for the first time in his career.
They face the 11-5 Seahawks, who have lost two straight. Those two losses, to the Cardinals and 49ers respectively, shot them down to the wild card round instead of a division title and a first round bye. Quite the drop off.
The Seahawks did beat the Eagles 17-9 on November 24, ruining Thanksgiving for many of us. But A LOT has changed since then.
For starters, the Andre Dillard at right tackle experiment was short and sour. He was constantly bull rushed and kept tipping the plays with the way his stance was. The experiment lasted one half and he was replaced by Vaitai in the second half. This time around Big V will be starting at right tackle from the start, as Lane Johnson will be out again. Also out is Brandon Brooks, so Matt Pryor will be starting along side Vaitai. The two are familiar with each other being next to each other on an offensive line. Before the Eagles connection, both started on the same offensive line at TCU.
Another difference is the backfield. During the first go around, Miles Sanders had 12 carries for 63 yards and the only active other running back was Jay Ajayi, who had six carries for 16 yards. This time around, blossoming superstar Miles Sanders is spelled by dynamic do-it-all running back Boston Scott and the team looks to have Jordan Howard back. Howard returned last week versus the Giants, but played one snap. Facing a Seahawks defense who has allowed an average of 153.2 rushing yards since the first game, this three headed monster of a running back rotation could have a huge game.
Also different is Carson Wentz. In the first game, Wentz went 33/45 for 256 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, three sacks, and fumbled three times and lost two of them. Since then, Wentz is fifth in the league over the course of week 13 to week 17 in passing yards with 1,509 and is one of seven quarterbacks with double digit touchdown passes within those five weeks. He’s fumbled eight times since then, but once in each of the last two games. The Seahawks are facing an extremely confident Eagles team, and Wentz is the catalyst of that all.
The Eagles were one of the most, if not the most, injured teams all season, but the Seahawks gave them a run for that title at the end of the season.
The offensive line suffered another blow a few weeks ago when Duane Brown went down with a knee injury. He’s out for this game after having his knee drained. Old friend Mychal Kendricks had 13 tackles in the first meeting, but will be out with a torn ACL suffered in the game against the 49ers.
Guard Mike Iupati is a game time decision, so it’s possible the Seahawks are without their two top offensive linemen. Prior to Sunday’s game against the 49ers, the team placed their top three running backs on IR: Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny, And C.J. Prosise. To replace them, they convinced Marshawn Lynch to come out of retirement and also signed Robert Turbin.
Jadeveon Clowney didn’t play in the first game, but he’ll suit up for this one despite being less than 100%. When asked about Clowney’s health on Friday, Pete Carroll didn’t give the most confident report:
“We’re just getting him to game time is all we can get done right now. “He worked today. He got his reps in today and was able to demonstrate the game plan and that he knew what was going on. If this is what we got, this is what we got. We got to work with it.”
It will be interesting to see the battle of Clowney versus Big V, as Vaitai has certainly held his own the past two weeks. But we might not see this battle too much if Clowney can’t play his regular amount of snaps.
For some history and predictions, check out the next page!