The Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks are preparing for what should be an epic clash of two top-tier NFC teams on Sunday.
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The Eagles (9-3) will host the Seahawks (8-4) with playoff implications certainly on the line, and Philadelphia’s defensive coordinator thinks they have as good a chance as anyone at stopping the Seahawks offense.
Specifically, they feel they have an advantage compared to most teams in the NFL at stopping Russell Wilson.
Wilson, a proven dual-threat quarterback, has thrown for more than 2,400 yards and rushed for nearly 700 more, accounting for 19 total touchdowns this year.
He is the leader of Seattle’s zone-read offense that usually gives defensive coordinators headaches, but Eagles DC Bill Davis Jr. said Tuesday that his defensive coaching staff have experience defending the zone-read from their collegiate coaching careers.
That experience, Davis says, is a gamechanger, per NJ.com:
"“It’s the biggest difference,” Davis said when asked Tuesday how valuable his staff’s college experience is ahead of Sunday’s game. “Our guys have spent a career defending this. It’s old hat to them. They have answers right away.“From the aspect of them knowing the answers right away they’ve defended it so much, as an NFL lifer, I haven’t head to have those kind of [zone read] discussions very much in my career.”"
The Eagles have five defensive coaches that have experience defending the zone-read in college, according to NJ.com:
- Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro (Oregon)
- Assistant defensive line coach Mike Dawson (Boston College)
- Defensive backs coach John Lovett (Maine, Cincinnati, Auburn, Clemson, Bowling Green, Miami, FL)
- Outside linebackers coach Bill McGovern (Boston College)
- Inside linebacker coach Rick Minter (Kentucky)
Together, Davis thinks their experience should give them an advantage in shutting down Wilson, something few teams have been able to do this season.
The Eagles are known better around the league for their outstanding offense, which is in the league’s top-10 in most statistical categories. It runs in read option formats sometimes, another reason Davis isn’t scared of the Seahawks. He says the defense has a “whole off-season of defending it” under their belts.
On defense, Philadelphia allows nearly 259 yards per game through the air, 26th in the league. The run defense is significantly better: the Eagles allow 107.7 yards per game, 12th in the league.
Kickoff will be at 1:25 p.m. PT on Sunday.