While Carson Wentz and the Eagles offense clearly needs to play much better Monday night than they have been if they are going to beat the Seahawks, Jim Schwartz’s defense also must find a way to contain the often uncontainable Russell Wilson.
Wilson is fourth in the NFL in passing (111.5) and has thrown a league-high 30 touchdown passes. He has completed nearly 71% of his passes. He leads the Seahawks in rushing.
The first thing Schwartz has to decide Monday night is whether he’s going to blitz the Seahawks quarterback:
To blitz or not to blitz
— The Eagles once again have one of the lowest blitz percentages in the league. Schwartz has sent extra rushers on just 67 of 362 pass plays (18.5%) in the first 10 games. The Eagles blitz hasn’t been particularly effective. Opposing quarterbacks have a 112.7 passer rating when the Eagles have blitzed. Eight of their 34 sacks have come on blitzes. They have given up three touchdown passes and have no interceptions when they’ve blitzed.
— The Eagles have blitzed 26 times on first-down pass plays, 25 times on second down, 15 times on third down, and once on fourth down.
— Schwartz blitzed Wilson a lot in the Eagles’ two losses to the Seahawks last year. He sent extra rushers on 14 of 31 (45.2%) pass plays in their Week 12 loss. Wilson completed just 5 of 10 passes against the blitz in that game. The Eagles sacked him six times, including four on blitzes. In their playoff loss to Seattle, Schwartz blitzed Wilson on 12 of 31 pass plays (38.7%). He was 6-for-11 and was sacked once against the blitz, but had three 20-plus-yard completions and averaged 11.4 yards per attempt when the Eagles sent extra rushers.
— The Seahawks and Eagles have played each other four times since Doug Pederson’s arrival in 2016. The Seahawks have won all four.
— Wilson has a 98.4 passer rating in those four games. That includes a 58.9 completion percentage, 8.7 yards per attempt, five TDs, and just one interception. He’s been sacked 10 times.
The Eagles offense has been completely inept on third down lately. In their last five games, the Eagles converted just 22.2% of their third-down opportunities. That’s the lowest third-down rate in the league during that period. In their last four games, they have converted just 1 of 25 third downs of six yards or more. Carson Wentz has a 39.6 passer rating on third-and-6-plus in those four games, including a 1.9 yards-per-attempt average.
— Wentz is 22nd in the league in third-down passing with a 75.4 rating. That’s his lowest third-down passer rating since his rookie season (67.0), and a far cry from the league-best 123.7 he had in 2017. His 52.9 third-down completion percentage is the lowest of his career. Last year, Wentz had 11 touchdown passes and one interception on third down. Through 10 games this year, he has three TDs and two interceptions.
— Wentz has completed just 16 of 36 pass attempts on third down in the last 5 games. Just 9 of those 36 passes have produced first downs. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per attempt on third down in those games.
— In their two losses to Seattle last year, the Eagles converted just 7 of 23 third-down opportunities. They were 4-for-12 in their Week 12 loss and 3-for-11 in the playoff loss.
— The Eagles converted just 3 of 7 third downs of 1 yard or less in the last four games.
Stopping the run
— The Eagles are 26th in run defense, giving up 133.4 yards per game on the ground. But they are 11th in opponent rush average (4.2 yards per carry).
— The Eagles have done a good job against opposing running backs, holding them to 3.6 yards per carry. The Browns’ Nick Chubb was the first running back to run for 100 yards against them. He had 114 yards on 20 carries. Fifty-four of those 114 yards came on one carry early in the fourth quarter. Before that, the Eagles had held Chubb to 45 yards on 16 carries. Seven of those 16 carries gained 1 yard or less.
— The Eagles held the Seahawks to 64 yards on 26 carries in their January playoff loss. In their Week 12 loss to them, they gave up 174 yards on 26 carries. Rashaad Penny had 129 of those 174 yards (on 14 carries), including a 58-yard touchdown run.
— Wilson leads the Seahawks in rushing with 367 yards. He’s averaging 6.7 yards per carry and 8.0 yards per carry on first down.
— Wilson is third in the league in passing (111.5) behind only Patrick Mahomes (114.3) and Aaron Rodgers (115.8) going into this week’s game.
— The Seahawks are tied for second in the league in yards-per-play on first down (6.5). Wilson is a big reason for that. As mentioned above, he’s averaging 8.0 yards per carry on first down (207 yards on 26 carries). but he also has a 119.4 passer rating on first down that includes a 74.5 completion percentage, 8.8 yards per attempt, 11 touchdowns, and just two interceptions.
— Wilson was 5-for-7 for 75 yards and a touchdown on first down in the Seahawks’ Week 12 win over the Eagles last season. But the Eagles did a better job on him on first down in the playoff loss. Wilson was just 5-for-9 for 43 yards and no TDs on first down.
— If you can get Wilson and the Seahawks to third down, you have a chance. The Seahawks are only 18th in third-down efficiency (41.2%). Wilson has a 57.4 third-down passer rating, including a 56.0 completion percentage, a 5.5 yards-per-attempt average, 3 TDs, and 5 of his 10 interceptions. Wilson has a 25.8 passer rating on third downs of 7 yards or more. He has completed just 16 of 33 attempts on third-and-7-plus.
— While the offense struggled on third down in the last five games, the defense has been playing very well. Since Ben Roethlisberger’s 13-for-13, 2-TD third-down performance against them in Week 5, opposing QBs have just a 63.1 third-down passer rating. That includes a 53.2 completion percentage, 4.4 yards per attempt, and just 11 first downs on 47 third-down pass attempts. Opponents converted just 22 of 60 third-down opportunities (36.7%) in the last five games.
— Travis Fulgham was targeted 12 times by Wentz in the last two games and had just two catches for 16 yards. In his first five games after getting promoted from the practice squad, he was targeted 41 times and had 29 catches for 435 yards and four touchdowns. His 435 receiving yards were the most in the league during that five-game period.
— The Eagles are 28th in average drive start (26.6). Just 14 of their 119 possessions have started at their own 40 or better.
— The Eagles are averaging just 1.75 points per drive this season. That’s the fourth-lowest average in the league, according to Football Outsiders. Only the Broncos, Bears, and Jets are averaging less.