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2017 Regular Season
Preview: Bucs @ Cards

Setting the Stage:
Third t

TB's Last Game
Pretty much a "pitcher's dual" with the Pats building a slight early lead and keeping just a little ahead of the Bucs until the final whistle to prevail 19 to 14.

First Quarter
Pats received and Brady threw an interception (McClain on the 5th play from scrimmage. But neither team could get much done offensively unti - with 1:25 left in the 1q, Gostkowski's FG attempt was good from 27-yds to complete a 13-play (7:10) Pat drive. Pats 3 - Bucs 0.

TB on KO. TB went 3 & out. Pats ran off one play to end the quarter.

First Quarter Score: Pats 3 - Bucs 0

Second Quarter
Pats completed a 3 & out. Punt returned to TB 32. Winston engineered an 11 play (5:12) drive capped by a Martin one-yard TD run up the middle. (Key plays: Winston-to-Jackson +11. Martin up the middle for +17). Bucs 7 - Pats 3

TB on KO. Brady led the PAts on a 9-yd (4:44) TD drive ending in a 5-yd Brady-to-Hogan hookup. Pats 10 - Buc 7.

TB on KO. TB held to 3 & out. Punt returned 40 yds to TB 27 with 2:13 left till halftime. Pats settled for a 23-yd Gostowski FG with 0:35 left. - Pats 13 - Bucs 7.

TB ran out of clock 4 plays later.

1st Half Score: Pats 13 - Bucs 7

Third Quarter
TB received - TB on KO. 3 & out. Pats got ball back at their own 6. Brady put together an 8-play 3:25 drive capped by a 45-yd Gostowski FG. (Key play: Brady to Cooks for +34). Pats 16 - Bucs 7.

The two teams exchanged possessions with Brady fumbling away the ball after being sacked. TB ran off five plays to end the 3Q with their ball at the NE 31.

Third Quarter Score: Pats 16 - Bucs 7

Fourth Quarter
Two plays into the quarter, Folk's 49-yd FG attempt was wide left. NE took over at their own 39. TB forced NE to punt 9 plays later. Bucs downed the NE punt at their own 3-yd line with 10:40 left. They put together a 5:01 "drive to nowhere" when Folk was wide left from 31-yds out.

Pats took over with 5:36 left to play & went 3 & out. TB took over on their own 26 with 4:26 left, and Winston put together a 9-play TD drive finished off by an 18-yd TD pass to Brate. Pats 16 - Bucs 14.

Onside kick recovered by Pats on the TB 37-yd line with 2:09 left. Five plays later, Gostowski was good from 48-yds. Pats 19 - Bucs 14.

T1:10 left. TB on KO. Winston moved his team to the NE 19 in 6 plays before time ran out.

Final Score: Pats 19 - Bucs 14

Key Game Stats

Wentz was 17 of 31 - 242 yds, 1 TD and 0 interceptions.

Blount Elliott ran for 136 yds and 0 TD's on 16 carries.

Ertz caught 5 passes for 81 yds. Three Eagle receivers (Agholor, Smallwood and Jeffrey). had 3 - 4 catches

Defensively, Hicks led in tackles with 9 followed by Jenkins (6), Bradham (4) and P Robinson (4).

Allen and Long were credited with a sack apiece.

Wentz was sacked once.

Philly converted 9 of 16 3rd downs (56%) while Chargers were 5 of 10 (50%)

Eagles averaged 5.1 YPC rushing. (They gave up 4.5 YPC)

Philly Net Punting average was 46.0 (vs. 39.0 for Chargers).

Each team was penalized 9 times

Philly was 2/4 = 50% in Red Zone efficiency (vs. 1/2 = 50% for Chargers).

Turnover Ratio: Plus-1 (Neither QB threw a pick. Chargers lost one fumble. Eagles didn't lose any.

Buc Stats to Date

First Downs - Eagles 96 / Opponents 71

Offensive Yards - Eagles 1,570 / Opponents 1,423

Passing Yards - Eagles 1058 / Opponents 1,204

Rushing Yards - Eagles 572/ Opponents 283

Sacks - Eagles 10 / Opponents 12

Field Goals - Eagles 11/13 / Opponents 5/5

Time of Possession - 35:29 / Opponents 24:31

Turnover Ratio - +2

Key Player Stats

Passing: Eagles - Wentz: 89 of 147 for 1,058 yds. 60.5%. 7.2 YPC...6 TD's. 2 Int. 90.5

Rushing: Eagles - Blount: 42 for 249. 5.9 YPC. 1 TD...Smallwood: 29 for 113. 3.9 YPC. 1 TD...Wentz: 20 for 97. 4.9 YPC

Receiving: Eagles - Ertz: 26 for 326 yds. 12.5 YPR. 1 TD...Jeffrey: 17 for 215 yds. 12.6 YPR. 2 Td's...Agholor: 12 for 173 yds. 14.4 YPR. 2 TDs.

Field Goals - Elliott: 8 /10.

Punting - Eagles - D Jones: 44.0 Avg

Punt Returns -Eagles - Barner: 3 returns 5.0 YPR

Kickoff Returns - Eagles - Smallwood: 4 returns for 93 yds (23.3 YPR)

Tackles - Eagles - Mills (27)...Jenkins (22)...Hicks (20)...Bradham (20)...Kendricks (18).:

Sacks - Eagles : 10 (Opponents' 12) - Graham (2.5)...Cox (2.0)...Vaeao (2.0)...Jernigan (1.5)

Interceptions - Eagles: 3 (vs. Oponents' 2): Mills (1), P Robinson (1, Douglas (1)).


Eagle Offense

WR...17 Jeffrey.........14 M Johnson
LT......71 Peters.........72 Vaital
LG.....73 Seumalo.....67 Warmack
OC    62 Kelce..........61 Wisniewskii      
RG    79 Brooks..
RT.....65 L Johnson
TE     86 Ertz............87 Celek
WR  .13 Agholor.....10 Hollins                           
WR ..82 T Smith.....18 Gibson
RB ...29 Blount.......28 Smallwood.....30 Clement.....38 Barner
QB....11 Wentz.......09 Fole

Cardinal Defense

LDE      97 Mauro..........72 Pierre.............94 X Williams
DT        98 Peters (A).....95 Gunter                
DT        92 Rucker.........90 Nkemdiche
SLB     55 C Jones........           
ILB       20 Bucannon....43 Reddick    
ILB       56 Dansby........57 Bynes       
WLB    96 K Martin
LCB     21 Peterson.....25 T Williams              
RCB    28 Bethel.........,26 B Williams               
SS       41 Bethea.........27 Branch        
FS       32 Mathieu ......36 Baker

Matchup: Eagle Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
If the Charger game is any indicator, it ooks like the Eagles will emphasize a heavy, physical running attack punctuated with opportunistic passes by Wentz to their TE (Ertz) and WR's Jeffrey and Agoholor. The stats don't reflect any emphasis of Blount receiving out of the backfield.

Eagles have allowed 12 sacks (or 3 sacks per game) during their first four games of the season. The left side of their OL seems soiid with Peters at LT and Seumalo at RG

Card pass defense is expected to step up when the offense is unable to get much going. They're more back-7 oriented (leaving it up to a rotation of 6 or 7 linemen to focus on stopping the run and freeing up LB's. They lost C Jone's sack-mate (Golden) for the year due to an ACL injury. He was replaced by K Martin, and #1 rookie ILB Reddick may be assigned additional pass rush duty Last week the Cards got Bucannon back from injury, so expect the Cardinal LB situation to be pretty much mix & match.

Bethel is doing a better than ordinary job at #2 CB opposite All Pro Patrick Peterson. Bethea is doing OK but isn't the speediest of safeties. Tyrann Mathieu started slowly in the nickel CB/#3 S role, but is steadily improving his ratio of big plays made to key plays allowed. But the real surprise of the secondary has been S T Branch, who has become the Card's money-guy vs. plugging the 2nd level running lanes. Budda Baker is still defining what his role will be.

Card CB's should be able to handle Jeffrey and Agoholor, but it will be up to Cardinal safeties to contain Ertz.

Key Matchups: Ertz vs. Mathieu. Elliott vs. Mathieu. Jeffrey vs. Peterson. Agoholor vs. Bethel. Peters vs. C Jones. K Martin or Reddick vs. L Johnson. Wentz vs. Cardinal secondary

Matchup: Eagle Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Last week vs. the Chargers, Blount gained 249 yards on 42 carries (5.9 YPC) and a TD. (I repeat - 249 yards on 42 carries). That pretty much sets the stage for next Sunday (Or does it)?

The Eagles could decide to continue handing the pig to Blount until we make the Eagles stop. Or they could set Blount up as a decoy so that Wentz can air it out. If it were me, I'd repeat the heavy dose of Blount. (A note about Blount: In the NE Brady-less win by NE over the Cardinals, Blount repeatedly gashed Cardinal run defenders by running an inch above the ground and consistently winning the leverage battle vs. Cardinal tacklers. Cards will have to pay extra attention to tackling techniques and being in the right gap).

Eagles figure to run behind their RT Lane Johnson. Card DL will need to "play stout." Safeties (especially Branch and Badger) will need to be extra careful keeping Blount from breaking off long gainers

Key Matchups: Blount vs. Branch. L Johnson vs. Cardinal DL and ILB's.

Cardinal Offense

WR1    11 Fitzgerald......14 Nelson.....16 C Williams
LT        74 Humphries.....73 Wetzel               
LG       75 Boone                    
C         53 Shipley...........62 Munyer              
RG       70 Boehm..    
RT........68 Veldheer........69 Holden
TE       .87 Niklas............80 Momah
WR2   .13 Ja Brown......12 Jo Brown...10 Golden     
QB       03 Palmer* ........05 Stanton.....07 Gabbert
RB       33 K Williams.....38 Ellington....23 C Johnson.....35 Penny.....37 Foster
TE        84 Gresham ......

Eagle Defense

DE......75 Curry.............51 Means
DT.......93 Jernigan.......94 Allen
DT.......91 Cox..............97 Vaeao.............98 Qualls
DE......55 B Graham.....xx C Long
OLB...95 Kendricks.....54 Grugler-Hill
MLB...58 Hicks...........59 Walker
OLB...53 Bradham......52 Goode
CB.....31 Mills..............32 Douglas.........33 McDougle
CB.....41 Darby...........21 P Robinson.....26 Watkins
S ......23 McLeod.......24 Graham
S.......27 Jenkins........42 Maragos

Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Eagle Pass Defense
Cardinal blockers turned Carson Palmer into a human tackling dummy but the elderly Cardinal QB was able to hold it together just enough to make the necessary number of offensive plays needed to beat the Niners last Sunday.

Blame it on the OL (& then blame them some more). The entire left side of the OL has had to be replaced due to the absence of Humphries (chronic injury) and Iupati (on IR). Shipley is unspectacularly holding down the fort at center. Veldheer is still learning the RT position. Their RG (Boehm) picked up 3 holding calls last week. Cards have been forced to phase in young backups Wetzel and Holden. They'd like to add veteran backup Alex Boone to the mix, but he continues to be banged up. Result: 6 sacks;plus a ton of other QB hits and hurries.

Palmer is finally getting his WRs back in reasonably good shape - Last week, Jaron Brown and RB/WR Andre Ellington made outstanding catces that moved the chains in critical situations. John Brown is being phased back into the mix. JJ Nelson continues to be a "field stretcher." Cardinal TE's are primarily blockers with just enough skill to catch one or two passes per game. You could make the case for Gresham as Palmer's go-to TE except he's tended to be up and down at crunch time.

Eagle pass rushers were to be feared a year ago, but their production has fallen off thus far this season. They've logged 10 sacks thus far. No one has exactly set the world afire, but the return of Fletcher Cox (2 sacks) could signal an uptick in Eagle QB sacks and pressures. Graham (2.5 sacks), Jernigan, Kendricks and Hicks are all to be pass rushers to be reckoned with.

Eagle DB's are OK but not lock-down. Cardinals shouid enjoy favorable WR/DB matchups across the board.

Look for Palmer to move out of harm's way eschewing longer-developing pass plays off play action and going to more short stuff to Ellington, the slot guy and possibly Gresham

If it were me, I'd be tempted to move Veldheer back to his familiar LT position, put Watford next to him at OG and go with a 5-man front of Veldheer, Boone, Shipley, Watford, Wetzel. Rationale: We're spending too much time waiting for Humphries to heal, and Veldheer still hasn't fully learned the RT position. Boehm was flagged for 3 holding calls last week. We can't survive that going forward,

Key Matchups: Cox and Jernigan vs. Watford, Shipley and Boone. Kendrick vs. Veldheer. Mills Darby McLeod, Robinson vs. Ja Brown, Nelson, Fitzgerald. Gresham vs. Jenkins.

Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Dallas Run Defense
Since the Cardinals lost bell cow David Johnson in opener in Detroit, they've been hard pressed to exceed 50 rushing yards per game. Chris Johnson has shown flashes of his old self. But the receiving option appears to be Ellington (either lining up in the backfield or as a 3rd or 4th receiver.

Interesting factoid - Eagle run defenders are giving up half as many yards as their RB's are gaining.

Based on past numbers, this might not be a great time for the Cards to place heavy emphasisi on running the ball. That said - BA will need to at least establish the "threat of the run" to keep Eagle pass rushers honest. I also don't think this is the week when you want to signal "run" before handing the ball to CJ2K - use him on misdirection, surprise quick tosses etc.

Key Matchups: Cardinal OL vs. Eagle DL and LB's.

Special Teams

Tampa Bay

K         04 Elliott                   
P         08 D Jones                     
H         08 C Jones
LS      .45 Lovato                  
KR      28 Smallwood
PR      82 T Smith


K          04 Dawson                      
P          02 Lee                                   
H          02 Lee                       
LS        46 Brewer                                 
KR       33 K Williams       
PR       33 K Williams

Matchup: Eagle Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Philly - Eagles are settling for twice as many FG's (11/13) as are their opponents (5/5). D Jones is averaging 44.0 yds per punt. Smallwood is their KR. Barner is their returner, but his status is uncertain (he's on the Eagle roster but not the depth chart).

Dawson (who had shanked a FG attempt in each of the first Cardinal games) was 4 for 4 last week in the win over SF. K Williams has tended to play it conservative as kick and punt returner. Lee totally bottled up the Niners with two 50+ and one 60+ yd punts in the 4Q last week - a key element in the Cards late comeback and OT win.

Key matchups: D Jones vs. Lee

Eagles - HC D Peterson. OC Frank Reich. DC Jim Schwartz. ST Dave Fipp.
Former KC offensive coordinator Peterson is in his second year. Reich was formerly QB coach at SD. Well-traveled Schwartz once was HC of the Lions

Cards -Tough year for Coach Arians. He's very proud of the grit displayed in last week's comeback OT win over the NIners and hopes to use it to propel the team forward. He's beem forced to make do with a make-shift OL and a "one-two-three-duck" passing attack that relies on Carson Palmer to somehow make plays despite all the pressure.

Cards - Iupati is on IR...Humphries is still not ready...Boone iffy

Dallas - TBD

How to Beat Tampa Bay
First and foremost, stop Blount. Burden mainly falls on safety T Branch and the big guys upfront.

Then - keep Palmer upright - less likely via good execution/more likely from play-design relying on quick drops and short patterns.

Finally - make fewer mistakes than they do.

Last Word:
Tough contest on the road in the East. BA says that the win over SF showed him what we're made of. I say: how well we play against the Eagles will truly show us what we're made of.

Have Phun in Philly!!


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