When Carson Wentz tore his ACL in December, Philadelphia’s season seemed over. The Eagles would still make the playoffs, sure, but they likely wouldn’t win a postseason game, much less reach the Super Bowl.
Well, they did.
Nick Foles has performed well in Wentz’s absence, even throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-7 beatdown of Minnesota in the NFC Championship. But if the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII, it might have less to do with Foles and more to do with their defense.
The defensive line, specifically.
“I see the D-Line being the key to the Philadelphia Eagles’ success if they’re going to win the Super Bowl,” former Super Bowl champion and NFL MVP Joe Theismann said on Taz & The Moose. “I think Philadelphia’s defense is just about as fast as Atlanta’s was last year. What happened to the Falcons is they didn’t have the horses to be able to rotate through in the defensive line, and I think they just got tired. The Eagles don’t really have a front four; they basically have a front seven or front eight. That sort of carried them most of the year.”
Especially in the playoffs, as the Eagles have allowed just 17 points in two games. Philly sacked Matt Ryan three times and forced three Case Keenum turnovers, including a pick-six.
As well as Ryan and Keenum played this year, though, they’re not Tom Brady.
“As far as Tom goes, you played the No. 1 defense in Jacksonville, you’ve seen everything you could possibly see in this game – I doubt if there’s anything Jim Schwartz is going to do that will be different,” Theismann said. “I think he’s going to challenge Tom. I think he’s going to bring multiple people. You’re not just going to see four people rushing. You’re going to see people coming from a lot of different places, and he’s going to force Tom to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Then it becomes a question of how well the secondary tackles. But I think he wants to get the ball out of Tom’s hands.”
The Patriots have won 13 of their last 14 games following a 2-2 start. The one loss? A 27-20 setback in Miami on Dec. 11. The Dolphins ran 30 times for 120 yards that night, which kept the New England pass rush at bay. Jay Cutler finished 25-of-38 for 263 yards, three touchdowns, and zero turnovers.
The Eagles would take that stat line from Foles in a heartbeat.
“Offensively, I think the Eagles want to try and do what Miami did,” Theismann said. “They want to run the football against this football team and give Tom as few snaps as possible. I think that is going to be the formula for the way the Eagles want to play this Super Bowl.”