If you are a believer in the simulation theory, fate, destiny, then how the Eagles won their Wild Card match-up with the Chicago Bears may have confirmed that belief.
It was scary how similar this win was to so many key moments in Eagles history.
Let’s go through it.
Maclin’s game-winner in Tampa Bay all over again
On the game-winning touchdown from Nick Foles to Golden Tate, the Eagles rolled Foles out to the right, hitting Tate perfectly on the outside as he fell into the end zone to take a 16-15 lead.
The play call looked pretty familiar to a lot of fans and media members.
NICK FOLES TO GOLDEN TATE, AMAZING. pic.twitter.com/F5pw2Yqwzm
— LeadingNFL (@LeadingNFL) January 7, 2019
I knew the game-winning TD felt familiar..
I was there live on 12/09/2012, Week 14.. Rookie Nick Foles snapping an 8-game skid for the Eagles w/a TD to Jeremy Maclin – pic.twitter.com/pAHLkTDV9q
— Michael Kist (@MichaelKistNFL) January 7, 2019
It was the exact play from Foles’s only win his rookie season back in 2012 against the Buccanneers.
Pederson was asked about the play and its similarity to Maclin’s game-winning touchdown seven years ago. He instantly recognized the comparison.
Doug literally recalled a play from 6 years ago, a play in which Nick Foles as a rookie threw a GW Td-pass to Jeremy Maclin in Tampa on the final play. He brought it back on the winning TD pass to Tate. That’s next level coaching. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/k2CBZfNb3S
— Bryce Zielinski (@zbryce21) January 7, 2019
Another 4th and goal for the win
This might be the spookiest similarity. In the first playoff game of the 2017 Super Bowl run, the Eagles were hanging on to a 15-10 lead with the Falcons driving in Philadelphia territory.
The Falcons had a 4th and goal opportunity to win the game. Fast forward a year later and the Eagles offense, down 15-10 had a 4th and goal to take the lead late in the game.
While the Eagles scored and the Falcons didn’t, look at all the similarities of the two situations.
— Sam Miller (@smiller1126) January 7, 2019
Foles comes off the field with the lead 2.0
Nick Foles drove down the field and took the lead against the Bears with a little under a minute to play. With a time-out and great field position after a big return from Tarik Cohen, the Bears were able to set up their kicker Cody Parkey a 43-yard field goal to win it.
Flashback to the 2013 Wild Card round, Nick Foles connected with Zach Ertz for a touchdown late in the game to give the Eagles a two-point lead.
Saints RB Darren Sproles sets up New Orleans near their 40-yard line with a big kickoff return.
Drew Brees and the offense marched down the field and kicker Shayne Graham hit the game-winner to send the Eagles packing.
This was the same scenario, only Treyvon Hester was able to get a hand on Parkey’s kick and make it shank off the left post and out.
A fake Philly Special?
Another nostalgic moment in Chicago was on the 2-point conversion following Tate’s touchdown to take the lead.
Nick Foles lined up in the shotgun and in a familiar move, he went down to check Lane Johnson but the ball was directly snapped to Wendell Smallwood.
It was the Philly Special! With a new element however. Instead of Smallwood pitching the ball to a receiver and throwing to Foles, he went up the middle and tried to hurdle past the goal-line.
The play was “unsuccessful” although it looked like the ball past the plain. The fact that a fake Philly Special was dialed up is just too cool.
Jason Kelce told the media after the game that the play was installed right before the Jaguars game in London. It was supposed to be the “London Special”.
Too much for a nerdy Eagles fan to handle.
Too many similarities to count
While there were some differences in these moments such as faking the Philly Special, and the Eagles actually converting the 4th and goal, unlike Atlanta last year. Or the fact that this time around the opposing team’s attempt at a game-winning field goal was no good.
But one has to see these moments, see the goal-line stand against Atlanta Week 1 of the regular season, see the Philly-Philly dialed up in the opener, have Nick Foles take over for Carson Wentz who was once again injured, leading the team on another magical postseason run, one has to witness this and appreciate how unworldly similar they have been to situations in Eagles history.
Who could the Eagles target from 49ers?
It appears the Eagles could be cooking up another trade. This time with the San Francisco 49ers.
49ers have talked to the Eagles about a trade. All I got on that.
— Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) March 16, 2019
What could Howie Roseman be looking for from San Francisco? The Eagles have already taken care of their DT, WR, and LB needs in free agency by trading for DeSean Jackson, signing Malik Jackson, and L.J. Fort.
They locked up their offensive line core keeping Jason Peters and extending both Jason Kelce and Issac Seumalo.
They even added to the log jam that is the CB position by bringing back Ronald Darby on a one-year deal.
Here are some players the 49ers could be willing to deal to the Eagles that makes sense for Philadelphia.
RB Matt Breida
With the signing of RB Tevin Coleman, the 49ers could be looking to shop one of their running backs.
Breida makes the most sense of anyone on the 49ers for the Eagles to have interest in. At just 24, Breida is young, and on an inexpensive contract which are two things Roseman loves to deal for.
After Jerick McKinnon went down last season, Breida carried the 49ers backfield finishing with 814 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns.
He averaged 5.3 YPC and early on in the season, he was averaging over 7.0 YPC.
That fast start included a Week 2 showing against Detroit that resulted in 138 rushing yards on just 12 carries.
Breida is explosive in short areas, and has the receiving skills Doug Pederson’s offense loves to have in the backfield.
His receiving DVOA (@fboutsiders ) was 2nd in the league behind Kareem Hunt. 44.8% is outrageous.
— Gino Cammilleri (@Gino_LOE) March 16, 2019
The third year running back surpassed 1,000 yards from scrimmage and would be an all-around weapon the Eagles desperately need at RB.
RB Jerick McKinnon
If the 49ers decide to keep Breida as Coleman’s counter-part in the backfield, that could spell the end of Jerick McKinnon in San Francisco before it even got started.
The former Viking signed with the 49ers last offseason and was expected to be Kyle Shanahan’s new version of Coleman but he tore his ACL before the season started.
McKinnon still has three years left on his contract with a $5.7 million cap hit in 2019.
He is only 26 and like Breida, McKinnon can make defenses pay on the ground and through the air.
In 2017 after Dalvin Cook suffered a season-ending injury, McKinnon became an important piece to Minnesota’s offense finishing with 570 rushing yards and 421 receiving yards.
Between 2016 and 2017, McKinnon had 94 receptions. Much like in Shanahan’s offense, Pederson’s offense is better with that kind of RB.
DE Solomon Thomas
The former third overall pick in the 2017 draft hasn’t met that potential in his first two years with the 49ers.
Thomas has just four sacks in two seasons but he could be another young (24 years old), buy-low trade target Howie Roseman takes a chance on.
The 49ers would likely be more willing to deal Thomas after trading and extending DE Dee Ford. San Francisco also holds the second overall pick in a draft class that even Roseman labeled “historic” when it comes to pass rushers.
With Chris Long’s future up in the air, Thomas could be someone the Eagles bring in to compete with Josh Sweat and a rookie if Long doesn’t think more playing time is coming his way for the 2019 season.
If the Eagles do make a trade with the 49ers, San Francisco’s loaded backfield is likely where Philadelphia would like to grab a play-maker from. Expect a deal to involve a draft pick but don’t be surprised if someone like Jalen Mills is also involved.
The CB group is now six-deep after re-signing Darby. With four other young, promising corners to develop and Mills hitting free agency in 2020, it seems likely Philadelphia could look to get some value for him now.
The 49ers already have Richard Sherman and signed former Chargers CB Jason Verrett this offseason but Mills has the versatility to play outside, in the slot, or even at safety.
Mills or a late pick for McKinnon/Breida could make sense for both sides.
T.J. Yeldon fits in Philadelphia
It doesn’t appear the Eagles were in on big names at running back in free agency. Le’Veon Bell signed with the Jets. Tevin Coleman signed with the 49ers. Mark Ingram signed with the Ravens.
Seeing Ingram and Coleman’s deal both in the $5 million a year range has many scratching their heads about why the Eagles potentially didn’t pursue those two on inexpensive contracts.
While Philadelphia could have been in the hunt for both, a lack of interest would certainly concern fans that want to see the organization invest legitimate resources into the position. It is certainly something to keep a closer eye on.
Howie Roseman can be lackadaisical when it comes to RB including last year, failing to replace Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. However, there is no need to panic just yet. The NFL Draft has talent across all seven rounds.
There are also some intriguing options still out there through trades and free agency that fit what the Eagles want to spend, and how they want to use their backs. Former Jacksonville Jaguars RB T.J. Yeldon is perhaps the most interesting option. And he would be a great fit in Doug Pederson’s offense.
An even cheaper option than Coleman and Ingram
It was a bit surprising seeing Coleman and Ingram get less than expected. If the Eagles weren’t players for either, it could be as a result of their serious interest in the draft class, or their plans to spend even less at the position.
Yeldon could be a cheaper option.
If Coleman and Ingram both got $5 million, it seems evident that Yeldon, a less proven player than the other two, would get less.
The Eagles have not spent significant dollars for a running back since Chip Kelly signed DeMarco Murray in 2015. They have targeted younger, cheaper players.
At 25 years old, Yeldon fits that mold.
The perfect complementary RB
If Yeldon and Corey Clement were the compliments to a rookie the front office invests in, it would be hard to do much better.
The former Alabama prospect has the receiving skills this Eagles offense has valued since the days of Brian Westbrook.
Yeldon has 135 catches in the last three seasons, with a career-high 55 receptions for 487 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns in 2018.
He can make some impressive plays with his hands.
The production is there but he isn’t built like other receiving-backs. At 6’2 218 pounds, Yeldon is a few inches taller, and only two pounds lighter than Jay Ajayi. The majority would agree that Ajayi’s label is that of a power runner.
That allows him to be an option in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
Chunk plays are abundant
Yeldon has the ability to turn a four-yard hole, or a three-yard check down into a 15-30 yard play. He is extremely explosive for his size and he isn’t easy to bring down when he is caught. At Alabama, Yeldon forced 54 tackles in his final collegiate season.
Having that kind of weapon with the five dangerous pass-catchers the Eagles already have could be deadly. Wendell Smallwood isn’t that weapon.
In 2018, Yeldon finished with eight receptions of 15+ yards. Four of which were above 20 yards. Tevin Coleman only had five receptions of 15+ yards.
Compared to Alvin Kamara, an elite pass-catching running back, Yeldon only had seven fewer receptions that went past 15 yards.
Moves the chains on third down
In short and long situations on third down, Yeldon was a focal point for the Jaguars.
Whether it was a passing play or a running play, he was effective in moving the chains.
Being capable of converting through the air and ground with just one running back helps make an offense less predictable.
The Eagles still have quality options if they want to add an RB before the draft. The Browns and Bears are actively shopping Duke Johnson and Jordan Howard. If the front office wants to keep their draft capital however, T.J. Yeldon could be their guy.
On today’s Locked on Eagles:
Analyzing the Eagles signing LB L.J. Fort
DeSean Jackson’s press conference was encouraging
The Giants continue their blueprint of not having a blueprint signing Golden Tate