If the Eagles’ game plan is truly opponent-driven, there is a template for beating the Carolina Panthers.
The Cowboys rushed for 245 yards in a 38-26 win over the Panthers last week. Quarterback Dak Prescott completed carries for 75, 56 and 66 yards with three of his four touchdown passes. Zeke Elliott rushed for 35 of 143 yards in the first series of runs, ending it with a one-yard run.
The Eagles attacked the Kansas Chiefs the same way the Los Angeles Chargers did in upsetting offensive power the previous week.
Jalen Hurts quickly got rid of the ball and the Eagles tackled the Chiefs. Both of those tactics would go a long way in giving the Eagles (1-3) a chance against the Panthers (3-1), who have won their first three games.
“They’re very quick,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said of the Panthers’ defense. “These guys can fly around football. They picked up speed on the edge. I know Shaq Thompson is missing, but he’s a very good football player. And then Brian Burns is a very good football player. They have very good football players. They have really good speed, like I said. And they can steal and tackle. This is the bottom line.
The Panthers are coached by former Temple U. legend Matt Rhule, who signed one of the players who helped start the program at Broad and Montgomery in Philadelphia.
Pass rusher Hasson Reddick has a dozen sacks in his last eight games, including two from Hurts last year in the desert with the Arizona Cardinals. Reddick forced fumbles on both of those plays. Hurts has been sacked six times by the Cardinals.
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The Eagles placed guard Sua Opeta on the COVID roster, further reducing their depth on the offensive line.
It’s unclear if Lane Johnson, who scratched last Sunday due to what the Eagles called “personal reasons,” will be back in the lineup.
Anticipate more attacking line moves in the coming days.
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The Panthers are keeping their fingers crossed that explosive running back Christian McCaffrey can practice Wednesday after sitting out the Cowboys game with a hamstring injury.
There’s no more dynamic back with running and receiving skills than McCaffrey, at least when he’s healthy. Since the 2019 season, when he rushed for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns and recorded 1,004 receiving yards and four scores, he has only played in six games due to injuries.
McCaffrey rushed for 201 yards, one for a touchdown and had 16 receptions for 163 yards in the first three games.
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NOTES >> Eagles receiver Quez Watkins leads the league with a 21.9 yards-per-catch average. He and the Raiders’ Henry Ruggs III (21.2) are the only NFL receivers to average 20 or more yards per catch (minimum 10 receptions)… DeVonta Smith leads the Eagles with 18 catches for 237 yards. Only DeSean Jackson was more productive in his first four games with the Eagles…Dallas Goedert leads all tight ends in average yards per catch (14.5) and percentage of catches leading to first downs (84.6%) … Only league leader Myles Garrett (6.0 sacks) has more sacks than Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who has five and continues.