Nick Foles did just enough to lift the Eagles to a Week 1 win against the Falcons, but he’ll need to do much more to defeat the upstart Buccaneers.
The Eagles were able to win a Super Bowl with Nick Foles at the helm, but he hasn’t seemed like the same guy since he lifted that trophy. He struggled mightily during the preseason and then, predictably, played a really ugly game against the Falcons in Week 1. If the Eagles want to go to 2-0, they’re going to need much more out of their backup quarterback.
Foles only managed to throw for 117 yards against Atlanta. Somehow, the Philadelphia attack was able to grind out 18 points. That was enough to score a narrow victory against a quality Falcons team. That’s not something the Eagles are going to be able to get away with this week.
Few people saw the Buccaneers’ offensive explosion in Week 1 coming, but that doesn’t make it any less real. Ryan Fitzpatrick looked like a Pro Bowl quarterback in place of the suspended Jameis Winston against the Saints. He’s a solid candidate to regress in Week 2, but there are a lot of weapons on the Tampa Bay offense.
Specifically, the Eagles are going to struggle to keep all of Tampa Bay’s receivers quiet. Everyone knows that Mike Evans is an absolute beast, but the resurgence of Desean Jackson as a deep threat really tormented the Saints. Fortunately for the Eagles, Jackson’s status for the game is in serious doubt after suffering a concussion in the second half against New Orleans.
Even if Jackson misses out, expect the Buccaneers to move the ball with some effectiveness against the Eagles defense. This game isn’t going to end up as a shootout, but Philadelphia won’t win this game with their defense alone. The offense is going to need to play much better than it did in the opener.
There’s no way for them to do that without a much better outing from Foles. That doesn’t mean he needs to be Carson Wentz out there. Instead, he needs to get back to what he’s good at. Doug Pederson and the coaching staff should build the game plan around letting Foles throw outside the pocket. Getting him into a first quarter rhythm with a few easy passes and bootlegs could really help grow his confidence for the remainder of the game.
On defense, the Eagles would do well to build off the momentum they established against the Falcons. Yes, Julio Jones had a big game, but he was really the only Falcon who enjoyed any sustained offensive success. The Eagles should try to make sure Evans doesn’t enjoy the same level of success Jones did last week, but making the Buccaneers offense one-dimensional could pay serious dividends.
In the end, it’s safe for Eagles fans to expect Foles to improve from Week 1 to Week 2. As long as he does, Philadelphia should be able to secure the 2-0 start they wanted when the schedule was first announced. The Buccaneers are definitely a more dangerous opponent than most people predicted, but there’s too much talent on Pederson’s roster to drop this game. Look for Foles and the offense to do just enough to escape Florida with an important win.