The Philadelphia Eagles outdueled the Minnesota Vikings and emerged the winner by a score of 34-28 on Thursday Night Football. The Eagles pounded the ball on the ground, rushing 48 times for 259 yards, while the Vikings relied on Kirk Cousins’ arm and their talented receiving trio. Cousins completed 31-of-44 passes for 346 yards.
Justin Jefferson led the Vikings with 11 catches for 159 yards, but T.J. Hockenson, Jordan Addison, and K.J. Osborn were the only ones to score touchdowns. Jefferson nearly scored, but the ball squirted out of bounds as he reached for the end zone, resulting in a touchback, one of the Vikings’ four turnovers. The others came on real fumbles by Alexander Mattison, Brandon Powell, and Kirk Cousins.
How Did the IDPs Fare?
With the Eagles doing so many rushing plays, the Vikings defensive players accumulated a lot of tackles. The four leading tacklers were all Vikings: safety Camryn Bynum, safety Harrison Phillips, linebacker Jordan Hicks, and safety Josh Metellus. When the opposing offense succeeds in rushing the ball and gets past the defense’s front seven, safeties must provide help and stop the running back. The Eagles face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next week, making Bucs safeties Antoine Winfield and Ryan Neal start considerations.
Overall, the Vikings team as a team combined for 97 tackles (solo and assists) on 75 Eagles plays. That’s an average of 1.29 tackles per play, while the Eagles only made 47 combined tackles on 55 plays or 0.85 tackles per play.
This shows the IDP benefits for safeties (and sometimes linebackers) when a team faces a rush-heavy offense. Run-heavy teams run more plays than passing teams. More running plays end in tackles (as opposed to incomplete passes), and more of those tackles involve multiple players working together to bring down a hard-running ball carrier.
While solo tackles are more valuable than assists, the Vikings also ended up with more solo tackles per play–one on 73.3% of the plays, while the Eagles only made solo tackles on 67.3% of the plays.
Matchups with pass-heavy teams are more favorable for defensive linemen, as there is a better chance of getting a sack. However, in this game, the Vikings led the Eagles with sacks, four to two, largely because Jalen Hurts likes to hold onto the ball for longer than Cousins, and he got tackled behind the line of scrimmage a time or two after he started running.
Vikings LB: Ivan Pace Continues Playing Over Brian Asamoah
Undrafted free agent Ivan Pace, who won the starting job in preseason and made eight tackles in Week 1. He started again and played most of the game. Pace made five solo tackles, three assists, and half a sack. The Vikings didn’t blitz often, sometimes opting for only three pass rushers, but Pace was usually the featured blitzer when they did blitz.
Brian Asamoah II, who was expected to win the starting job by many fantasy analysts, didn’t play very much. He only ended up with a single solo tackle and a single assist. PFF’s first-half snap tracking puts numbers to what I was noticing and jotting in my notebook: Pace played 88% of the snaps, and Asamoah only played 24%.
Consider Pace an add for the rest of the year, and drop Asamoah if you haven’t already.
Eagles LB: Nicholas Morrow and Zach Cunningham Remain the Starters at Present
The Eagles linebacker room has been in disarray. First, Morrow was cut, and Cunningham took his job as the No. 2 inside linebacker. Then Morrow was added to the practice squad, and Nakobe Dean was injured in Week 1. So the starters in Week 2 were Cunningham and Morrow, and they both played over 90% of the snaps.
Morrow’s position is not exactly stable in the long term. Dean is on the injured reserve, which means he will miss at least three more weeks and could return by Week 6. Dean will return to the LB1 role. Beyond that, the team signed practice squad veteran Christian Elliss prior to Week 2. While Elliss didn’t play much in his first game on the team, his presence means Morrow could always be benched if he plays as poorly as he did in the preseason.
Surprise: Hassan Reddick Didn’t Do Anything
The Eagles outside linebacker (LB/DL in Sleeper) was an exciting breakout star last season, as he set career-highs with 16.0 sacks and 26 QB hits. This season, however, he has been quiet in Weeks 1 and 2. The Eagles rotation runs deep, especially after having drafted defensive linemen in the past two drafts. Reddick’s snap count is slightly down from last season. Last season, for that matter, was lower than what he saw in 2021 in Carolina, which resulted in more sacks but fewer tackles.
In Week 1, Reddick only made a single assisted tackle in 58 snaps (73% of team defensive snaps). The ESPN box score doesn’t show Reddick registering anything in a single stat category. (That is confirmed in Sleeper.) It wasn’t for lack of snaps; he played 67% of the Eagles’ snaps, according to PFF. That is fewer than last week but more than anyone else on the Eagles’ D-line. The Eagles rotated more than before. The decreased snap total hasn’t been great for Reddick, but his lack of productivity when he is on the field has been a bigger problem.
The Patriots and Vikings both have top-15 offensive lines. The whole Eagles defense only got two sacks on Cousins; both came from Joshua Sweat. Maybe Reddick and the others will do better in upcoming matchups against teams with weak lines: the Buccaneers, the Commanders, the Rams, and the Jets.
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