Good morning. The Eagles' players will get an extra day off today to recover, which is the schedule Doug Pederson has used in recent weeks. The coaches will be at work preparing for Sunday’s divisional round playoff game against the New Orleans Saints. Coordinators Mike Groh and Jim Schwartz have press conferences at noon.
— Zach Berman
Yes, the Eagles beat the Bears -- but attention will quickly shift to the New Orleans Saints, as it should. The Eagles do not forget what happened on Nov. 18, when the Saints dominated them in a 48-7 shellacking. (The Eagles think they’re different; Les Bowen explains more.)
There are different approaches when avenging such a lopsided loss. They can either channel it this week as a resource to focus and motivate the team, or they can flush it from their systems and pretend it didn’t happen.
In Doug Pederson’s postgame speech, he alluded to the fact that the Saints were next. Everyone in the locker room remembers what happened.
“I don’t have to tell you where we’re headed next weekend,” Pederson said, as captured by the team website.
“You all know where we’re going,” safety Malcolm Jenkins told his teammates.
Pederson said he will use the game as a resource for preparation this week, which makes sense; there’s a lot of valuable film from that day. But my guess is the players don’t want to forget that game happened.
“Immediately after the game, you flush it and you’re moving on to the next week’s opponent. I think for us this week, it’s more of a resource,” Pederson said. “We go back and look at scheme. We go back and look at personnel, and you can’t look at the final score, obviously. We all know that, but you have to look at it from just X’s and O’s, pure X’s and O’s, and it’s good to have played them because now you have it on tape. You have us versus them on tape, and you can go back and review and use it more as a resource.”
Golden Tate hasn’t had the role that was expected when the Eagles acquired him midseason, yet the Eagles threw to him on a fourth down to win a playoff game. Even if Tate’s production (or playing time) hasn’t matched up with the draft-pick compensation, he has been as advertised to the Eagles.
“He’s exactly the person we knew we were getting, and this guy obviously was a starter and then kind of came in, became a role player,” Pederson said. “So kind of a little bit took a seat a little bit, a step back. … He just shows that he can handle more and more and more, and obviously we get, in practice, we get more plays repped in practice than we do get called necessarily sometimes in a game. So you see more in practice from him, but he just keeps getting better, and he’s really good at the types of catches that he made [Sunday] night, and especially the fourth down to win the game or at least to go ahead.Those are the things he can do. He’s very strong at the ball. We know he’s strong after the catch. He’s strong breaking tackles and played well.”
Tate won’t all of a sudden be an every-snap player for the Eagles. He’s the No. 3 receiver, and his playing time will depend on whether the Eagles play more two-tight end sets. But he’s going to be a part of the offense for however long the Eagles play during the playoffs, and what appeared to be a questionable trade one month ago looks better each week -- especially this week.
What stood out about the Eagles’ playing time distribution against the Bears?
Let’s start with defense, where the Eagles relied on a heavy dime package. That’s why Tre Sullivan played 75 percent of the defensive snaps as the third safety and Jordan Hicks played only 36 percent of the snaps as the second linebacker. (Hicks was the every-down linebacker before his injury, but that’s now Nigel Bradham.) Brandon Graham (91 percent), Fletcher Cox (84 percent), and Michael Bennett (84 percent) logged significant snaps along the defensive line, although Tim Jernigan’s work went up with 34 percent of the defensive snaps.
On offense, Josh Adams took only one snap. He has fallen down in the running back rotation. Darren Sproles spent the most time on the field with 56 percent of the snaps, while Wendell Smallwood played 41 percent of the snaps. Pederson said Adams' reduced role was “game-specific.”
The Eagles also didn’t use two-tight end sets as much as expected. Dallas Goedert played 44 percent of the snaps, which is still a sizable amount. But the Eagles played with three receivers more often, which was why Golden Tate played 62 percent of the snaps. Pederson said the Eagles went with more “11” personnel because of the way Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio mixed up his personnel.