Moving to 1-0 came at a cost to the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday evening. They lost three different starters on the defensive side, and are now left picking up the pieces in a short week against the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings are a different team than the one the Eagles dominated last season. Yes, they are 0-1, but Kirk Cousins is still the quarterback and the team upgraded at several important positions. If anything, their 0-1 mark makes them even more dangerous.
Beating Minnesota won’t be an easy task for Philadelphia. Like any game, several players will need to have big games for Philly to win.
Let’s get to the five biggest names today.
There may not be an Eagle under more pressure Thursday night than when Christian Elliss takes the field as the starting MIKE linebacker. Replacing a strong run defender like Nakobe Dean will be a challenge, but the Eagles are high on Elliss.
More importantly, he’ll need to command the middle of the field a lot better than the game in New England. Mac Jones carved up the middle of the field against Philly and threw for close to 300 yards. If Jones can do that, imagine what Justin Jefferson or TJ Hockenson are going to do to this defense.
Elliss needs to have a big game if the Eagles are going to have any chance to win.
In a game where the Eagles will be down several key defensive starters, field position will matter greatly. Philadelphia did not win the position battle on Sunday against New England but it wasn’t Siposs’ fault. The punter was excellent against the Patriots averaging close to 50 yards a punt. He was excellent, but he’ll need to be even better against Minnesota.
The Vikings have a high-powered offense. The longer the field they have to go through, the tougher it will be for them to score. Simply put, this is a massive game for Philadelphia’s special teams units.
How will Jalen Hurts look after arguably his worst game in over a full calendar year? Hurts was indecisive against New England at repeatedly missed open throws. As a franchise quarterback, that can’t happen but is easily explained when battling arguably the best defensive coach ever.
Thursday will be a big game for Hurts. It’s not time to panic or anything, but the Eagles need their franchise quarterback to consistently put up points against a Vikings team that is desperate to avoid an 0-2 start. With his secondary banged up, it’ll be up to the Eagles quarterback to set the tone early and often.
Jobe enters an almost impossible situation Thursday night. Replacing an All-Pro player like James Bradberry is insanely hard. Going up against top players like Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison is just icing on the cake.
With Bradberry gone with a concussion, the Eagles will need to pick their poison with Minnesota’s offense. Do they give double-team help to Jobe and risk Jefferson beating Darius Slay? Or do they leave Jobe on an island to battle Addison?
Either way, Jobe holds a lot of the cards to Philadelphia’s chances of winning.
Head coach Nick Sirianni made it a point of emphasis that he did not want Swift to ever get just two touches in a single game. With Kenneth Gianwell battling a rib injury, the stage is set for Swift to have a monster game against Minnesota.
Under new defensive coordinator Brian Flores, the Vikings’ defense is much improved from last season, but they can be beaten. The Buccaneers didn’t perform very well on the ground in Week 1, but their offensive line is decimated – much different than what the Eagles possess.
Still, Philadelphia is a running football team and they need to trust in their backs to do so.
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AP Photo/Ron Schwane