Championship Weekend: A recap and what the Birds should take from it
Championship weekend has come and gone, and we now know who will be playing in the Super Bowl. Having taken the time to let the results settle in. It is time to take a look back at the events from last weekend. To add to that, it is worth looking at what the Eagles should take from Championship weekend and how they should apply it to their game. Besides, these are the best four teams in the league. It is likely to help them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-26 Green Bay Packers
It was a game that Tampa Bay controlled from the first drive to the last. Even when Green Bay had a sniff, the Buccaneers defense clamped them down. After ending the first quarter tied, the Bucs took complete control of the game thanks to turnovers on either side of half-time. The first came from a Sean Murphy-Bunting interception which led to a dramatic Tom Brady touchdown to Scotty Miller with time expiring.
To start the second half, Jordan Whitehead forced Aaron Jones to fumble the ball. The Bucs would extend their lead thanks to a Cameron Brate touchdown. Having had the chance to take the lead heading into half-time, the Packers saw themselves down 28-10.
Despite this, Green Bay answered right back, and Brady started throwing interceptions like there was no tomorrow. However, Aaron Rodgers could only capitalise with seven points off three turnovers. That played a huge part in the outcome of this game. After that, Tampa had scored a field goal to make it an eight-point game and then came Green Bay's final drive.
It came down to a fourth and goal at the seven-yard line, and with Rodgers, you would expect Matt LeFleur to take the gamble. LeFleur would kick the field goal and never see the ball again meaning Tampa Bay became the first-ever team to host a Super Bowl.
What the Birds can learn from the Buccaneers- PLAY TO THE STRENGTHS OF YOUR SECONDARY AND GIVE THEM FREEDOM:
The Tampa Bay secondary is a young one. It is definitely the weakness of their defense, and coming into this postseason it was banged up, and people were expecting to be let down by it. However, Todd Bowles had done a magnificent job preparing them for this postseason, and they have been incredible over the last two games. Their red zone defense against the Packers was solid. In two of the biggest spots of the game, they held them to field goals.
Bowles deserves a lot of credit for this because he does not go with scheme over his talent. He plays to his young guy's strengths and also gives them freedom on the field. He meets with every member of his secondary individually at the crack of dawn, to discuss their play and gameplan for the next game. It would become even more important against the Packers as their secondary got more inexperienced and hurt.
The Eagles throughout the last three seasons have been in a similar situation often. They have had huge injuries on the secondary, but instead of adjusting, Jim Schwartz would leave his younger guys out there to sink or swim. The Eagles cornerbacks have struggled against the likes of Julio Jones, Amari Cooper and DK Metcalf more often than not. We have seen high draft picks like Rasul Douglas and Sidney Jones moved on, and in newer systems, they have found success. Billy Davis was similar to putting scheme over situations and the strengths of his players. No one will ever forget Eric Rowe vs Calvin Johnson, one-on-one on Thanksgiving. Having worked with defensive backs a lot, Jonathan Gannon should change the fortunes in the Eagles secondary this season and in the future.
What the Birds can learn from the Packers- HAVE FAITH IN YOUR YOUNG OFFENSIVE PLAYMAKERS:
The Green Bay wide receivers not named Davante Adams are all 26-years-old or younger and have been in the NFL since 2018. None of them were household draft picks coming into the league. However, over the last three seasons, they are starting to make a name for themselves. Of course, they have had their struggles since coming into the NFL. Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Equanimeous St. Brown have all dropped passes, failed to make plays in certain moments. Have the Packers decided to make them an afterthought after one or two mistakes?
No, they have not. Green Bay let their young guys play through it, and allowed them to learn from it. We saw Valdes-Scantling make a huge reception against the Buccaneers, but going back to earlier this season he had some big drops. He had a few touchdowns dropped, and even dropped what would have been a game-winning touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts. Green Bay would go on to lose that game.
It is something the Eagles need to look at moving forward. During the Doug Pederson era, the Eagles were not so kind to younger receivers. Two players that come to mind are JJ Arcega-Whiteside and John Hightower. Okay, JJAW is not great, and he may never be. To drop a rookie and essentially leave him in the unknown. Especially after a big drop. Is never going to help their confidence or let them grow. We only consistently saw him once there was an injury crisis on the team at the receiver position. Towards the end of this season, John Hightower was listed as inactive in favour of more injury-prone veterans, who would not be on the team next season. Hightower had failed to make some catches and had struggled to track the deep ball, but he would also make some big plays for the team when called upon. It is something that must improve in the upcoming season. The Eagles must do better at managing their young receivers.
Buffalo Bills 24-38 Kansas City Chiefs
Excluding the opening five minutes, this was not a game. The Bills took a 9-0 lead after capitalising on a Mercole Hardman muffed punt. From there on out, the Chiefs dominated this game and went and scored 21 points unanswered.
Patrick Mahomes showed no issues with the concussion he suffered the week before, and his toe injury was not causing him any problems. Touchdowns from Hardman, Darrel Williams and Clyde Edwards-Helaire put the Chiefs in the ascendancy. Both teams exchanged field goals before Kansas City put the game on ice. Mahomes found Travis Kelce in the end zone either side of a Josh Allen interception to end Buffalo's glimmer of hope.
After winning the majority of their games by one score or less, the Chiefs exploded right in time for the Super Bowl. If their entire team plays like this against the Buccaneers. Brady and co need to have the game of their lives, and beyond to topple the reigning Chiefs.
What the Birds can learn from the Chiefs- THEY WILL NEVER GET NEAR THE CHIEFS:
In all honesty, the Chiefs are the best team in the NFL by a country mile. No team stands near them in terms of quality and being able to withstand the intensity and consistency at which they play. As we have learnt from the last two years, you need to have the game of your lives to beat them. The Texans should have done it, and the Titans could have done it, the 49ers could have done it and even the Browns. They did not because they gave Andy Reid and his team an inch and they took it. You must play the perfect game to beat them, and even then it is not enough. That is the level the Eagles must stride towards, but they will never have playmakers like Mahomes, Kelce and Tyreek Hill.
What the Birds can learn from the Bills- THE IMPORTANCE OF A NUMBER ONE RECEIVER:
The Bills showed just how big a difference a number one, elite receiver can have on an offense. The trade for Stefon Diggs transformed them from a perennial 9-7/10-6 team to Super Bowl contenders. That is how vital he was for the growth of the Bills and Josh Allen. Having Diggs as a security blanket was a huge plus for the Bills, and he helped them in so many victories and defeats. He led the team in receptions and yards and had nine 100+ yard games this season.
The importance for a contender to have that number one receiving option is vital. Every team bar the Baltimore Ravens had an elite number one receiver in the playoffs, and they helped spur their teams forward. The impact they have on a team is massive, and it shows the Eagles having that safety blanket, an elite receiver who can do it all is a must. That adds the importance of getting one of JaMarr Chase or Devonta Smith in the draft. Having an elite wide receiver will set them on their way for offensive success. It will also allow them to compete sooner rather than later.