clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Eagles have a secret weapon at tight end that could give the Patriots problems

New, comments

The Eagles have three tight ends that can stress the Patriots defense.

NFC Championship - Minnesota Vikings v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles offense doesn’t rely on any one player to carry the day. Tight end Zach Ertz led the team with 824 yards from scrimmage in the regular season- for comparison, three members of the New England Patriots exceeded that total- and a whopping 12 players gained at least 100 yards and scored at least one touchdown.

Every skill player that takes the field for Philadelphia needs to be covered and to get a better sense of their roster, I spoke with Brandon Lee Gowton of BleedingGreenNation.com to get the inside scoop.

1. Can you explain the roles of each of the Eagles running backs and how they’re used?

Jay Ajayi — The Jay Train is the Eagles’ “lead back.” He takes a bulk of the carries. He’s not a major weapon in the passing attack, other than being used on screens. Ajayi’s workload has steadily increased since the Eagles traded for him prior to the deadline. He had 21 total touches in the NFC Championship Game (18 carries, 3 receptions). Ajayi’s had some fumbling issues (3 on 103 carries) since arriving to Philly, but the Eagles like his big play ability and his efficiency. Ajayi is averaging 5.19 yards per carry with the Eagles.

LeGarrette Blount — You already know this guy. Blount was the Eagles’ lead back earlier in the season but he’s faded down the stretch. LG is only averaging 2.8 yards per carry in his last six games. He’s best used as a situational player at this point: red zone, short yardage, kill the clock. Blount obviously isn’t known for being much of a pass catcher but Doug Pederson likes to use that to the Eagles’ advantage sometimes. Blount had a receiving touchdown in Week 1 on a play where he motioned out of the backfield. He was left uncovered since he’s not a “know where he is at all times” kind of player.

Corey Clement — Clement’s been a great find for the Eagles as an undrafted free agent. He’s really come on a third down back the Eagles like. He’s made great strides in pass protection and he’s capable of contributing as a receiver. Clement isn’t overly talented but he’s just real solid. Also an important contributor on special teams coverage. He does the dirty work.

Kenjon Barner — Mostly just the punt returner. He’s made some questionable decisions returning (or not returning) punts so watch out for that. He’ll see an occasional snap or two on offense but I wouldn’t count on it in this game.

1. Nick Foles has been pretty inconsistent in his performances. Is there a key that the opposing team does in the games where he struggles?

Indeed, Foles fits the definition of a high variance player. He has high highs and low lows. Like many quarterbacks, Foles is at his worst when he’s not comfortable in the pocket. He starts to drift too far backwards and his footwork gets sloppy … or he rolls out of good protection too early. He also holds on to the ball too long and looks indecisive.

Unlike Carson Wentz, Foles isn’t a player who’s regularly able to create big plays out of structure. He needs the offense around him to be working. He needs to get in a rhythm. Once that gets going, he can get hot. If it’s not there, though, it’s just not there.

One of Foles’ biggest weaknesses is his (lack of) confidence. If he’s not looking confident out there, he plays scared and things can snowball from there. We saw this in the Eagles’ final two regular season games.

2. Can you name an Eagles player on offense that most fans might not know, but should have a huge impact in the Super Bowl?

Trey Burton is the guy to watch out for on offense. As the Eagles’ third string tight end, he doesn’t get a lot of regular playing time, but he’s been productive when his number is called. On the season, Burton has been targeted 31 times. He has 23 receptions for 248 yards and five touchdowns, so you can see he’s been a weapon in the red zone. Burton could be a mismatch for the Patriots’ linebackers.

3. Can you explain the roles of each of the Eagles running backs and how they’re used?

Jay Ajayi — The Jay Train is the Eagles’ “lead back.” He takes a bulk of the carries. He’s not a major weapon in the passing attack, other than being used on screens. Ajayi’s workload has steadily increased since the Eagles traded for him prior to the deadline. He had 21 total touches in the NFC Championship Game (18 carries, 3 receptions). Ajayi’s had some fumbling issues (3 on 103 carries) since arriving to Philly, but the Eagles like his big play ability and his efficiency. Ajayi is averaging 5.19 yards per carry with the Eagles.

LeGarrette Blount — You already know this guy. Blount was the Eagles’ lead back earlier in the season but he’s faded down the stretch. LG is only averaging 2.8 yards per carry in his last six games. He’s best used as a situational player at this point: red zone, short yardage, kill the clock. Blount obviously isn’t known for being much of a pass catcher but Doug Pederson likes to use that to the Eagles’ advantage sometimes. Blount had a receiving touchdown in Week 1 on a play where he motioned out of the backfield. He was left uncovered since he’s not a “know where he is at all times” kind of player.

Corey Clement — Clement’s been a great find for the Eagles as an undrafted free agent. He’s really come on a third down back the Eagles like. He’s made great strides in pass protection and he’s capable of contributing as a receiver. Clement isn’t overly talented but he’s just real solid. Also an important contributor on special teams coverage. He does the dirty work.

Kenjon Barner — Mostly just the punt returner. He’s made some questionable decisions returning (or not returning) punts so watch out for that. He’ll see an occasional snap or two on offense but I wouldn’t count on it in this game.