Eagles vs. Ex-Eagles: Two Offensive Matchups to Watch


The storylines for Super Bowl LII run deep.

The rematch 13 years in the making.

Could this be the end of a dynasty?

Could this be the start of a new dynasty?

All you have to do is pick your poison. But here’s a storyline I’m going to look at today: there are two Eagles on offense who will be matched up with two Patriots defenders who are former Eagles. And that’s something that will be very interesting to watch on Sunday.

I’m looking specifically at Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor matching up with Patrick Chung and Eric Rowe respectively. If I’m Doug Pederson, I know these are my two most winnable matchups at any given time in the passing game considering Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler will be blanketing Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery. Let’s look to the first matchup, Zach Ertz vs our old friend Patrick Chung.

Patrick Chung came to the Eagles in 2013 by way of the New England Patriots. Chip Kelly brought him in sure up the secondary. Without bringing up too many bad memories let me leave it at this: he was a far cry from the player he was in New England. Chung was a liability in coverage and not too effective against the run. These are two things I expect the Birds to take advantage of. There is a legitimate possibility that Zach Ertz will be matched up with Chung in coverage, if this is the case expect Nick Foles to take full advantage. Ertz found ways to beat one of the best safeties in football (Harrison Smith) last week, he should have no problem torching Chung in the biggest game of his career.

On to the second Pats defender: Eric Rowe. Rowe was infamously traded to the Evil Empire last preseason for a conditional third-round pick [that is officially a fourth-round pick] because he didn’t fit into Jim Schwartz’s scheme. At the time Birds fans were pissed because he was a second year, second round pick with upside that was cut too soon. As it turns out, I would much rather have Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, and Sidney Jones than Eric Rowe. Even though Rowe missed some time earlier this season with an injury he is still the team’s slot corner. Given Nelson Agholor’s emergence as a legitimate weapon in the slot, I think this is a winnable matchup for the Birds. Check out Eric Rowe’s weaknesses from his draft profile:

Linear body type with average play strength. Will struggle to carry NFL deep speed. Lacks an accelerator and is not a recovery-type cornerback. Limited as a man-cover corner. Has change-of-direction issues in tight spaces. Plays into boundary too often. Had to fight through a leg issue at one point during the 2014 season. Likely a scheme-specific player.

Doesn’t this sound like a nightmare matchup for the Pats? Nelson Agholor will burn Eric Rowe in coverage. He’s done it before. Agholor and Rowe went to rival schools in the Pac-12. The last time these two played each other was in 2014, Nelly went off for 110 yards on 10 catches. This is the matchup to make at the Super Bowl. Look for Doug Pederson to scheme ways to get the ball into Agholor’s hands in space from torching Rowe in coverage or by play design.

I’ll leave this here, too:

If Seth says it, it has to be true.

The passing game will be run through Agholor and Ertz come Sunday night. Both guys have advantageous matchups and will make the best of their opportunities. Book it.


You can follow Anthony Mazziotti on Twitter (@AntMazziotti) and e-mail him at anthonymazziottiwriting@gmail.com.

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