Don’t Expect Many Surprises in Eagles-Seahawks II
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It wasn't easy for the Philadelphia Eagles in the regular season but with the reset button hit and January football on the docket for a third consecutive year, the organization is feeling pretty confident with Seattle heading east for Sunday's Wild Card Weekend matchup.
When asked about Russell Wilson's gaudy January experience on Tuesday Philadelphia defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was quick on the uptake with "We do [have experience], too," a nod the Eagles' four postseason wins in five games over the prior two winters.
Schwartz's counterpart on the offensive side of the football, Mike Groh, went the more relaxed route and joked when asked about K.J. Wright's charge that Seattle knew what was coming in the screen game back on Nov. 24 when the Seahawks topped the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field 17-9.
“We’ll probably just run the same ones, he won’t be expecting it," Groh deadpanned.
In many ways, the Eagles confidence comes from Lincoln Financial Field and one of the NFL's best home-field advantages. Schwartz noted the minute you park your car in South Philadelphia on game day you can feel the energy.
"It'll certainly be nice having the home crowd behind us. I think our players do draw some energy from the crowd," Schwartz said. "It's hard not to feel that. I've said this before, from the time you park your car in the parking lot, you feel that energy from our stadium."
Wilson, though, is battle-tested and likely No. 2 in the MVP race behind Baltimore's Lamar Jackson after what may have been his best season as a professional.
A consummate winner, the veteran is 86-41-1 as a starting QB, becoming the first signal caller in history to begin his career with eight consecutive winning seasons with seven of the eight ending in double-digit wins and playoff berths. Over 13 career postseason games, Wilson teams have won eight times with a Super Bowl championship and a yard away from another.
"I think the fact that he's really good has much more to do with [his success] than has playoff experience," Schwartz said. "He's a smart quarterback. He doesn't turn the ball over very often. He’s got great mobility. He can extend plays, but he can also just make his plays from the pocket. He's a very accurate passer. All those things will be factors in the game that we're going to have to defend. You don't bring your resume to the field; you bring your skillset and we're going to bring ours and we're going to play hard."
From Schwartz's perspective Week 18 means fewer wrinkles from both sides.
"We don't change a whole lot from week to week. I think [Wilson] probably had a good idea what we were going to do when we faced them the first time," the DC admitted. "It's the playoffs. There is probably not a whole lot of surprises going to go on on either side of the ball."
So what will decide it?
"It'll be about execution. It’ll be about teamwork. It’ll be about toughness, fundamentals," Schwartz explained. "I think those things will have more to do with the game than them coming up with something new or us coming up with something new.
“... At this point in the season, you kind of are what you are.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen