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Big Question: Will The Scheme Change With Nick Foles At Quarterback?


Ahead of Sunday's showdown with the New York Giants, the writers answer your questions below!

Dave Spadaro: I don't think the scheme changes one bit. The scheme is what the scheme is, what the team has worked on all season. You don't just change a scheme. Now, the playcalling and situation decision-making could change, so let me explain.

Nick Foles has a different skill set than Carson Wentz and the coaching staff needs to play to Foles' strengths. So you might see the ball come out of his hand more quickly, for example. You may see more shallow crosses and three-step drops and things that can get Nick set up to throw fast. It also takes pressure off the offensive line.

I think the Eagles will continue to mix up the playcalling, but I would expect Doug Pederson to punt more on fourth-and-1 plays rather than have Foles sneak. He just isn't in the class of Wentz in that department (few quarterbacks are). Will the Eagles rely heavily on the running game? Yes, but it won't be anything unusual. The Giants are going to stack the box on Sunday. They're going to bring pressure. That's what they do, and that's what Foles will have to defeat.

The Eagles are going to take apart each opponent's defense and try to exploit weaknesses. The scheme won't change, but within that there may be some tweaks to the protection scheme and the play calls. You won't know a huge difference. That's what I think is coming.

Fran Duffy: I really don't see the scheme changing much with Foles – they're not throwing the playbook out the window as a coaching staff. Are there plays that Nick likes to run more than Carson? Of course, and the coaches will adjust accordingly as any good staff should. The thought, however, that they have to start from scratch or cut the playbook in half is overblown. The scheme and philosophy of the offense will remain intact.

Chris McPherson: I asked this question to a number of players this week and the answer was always the same in some variation - "It won't." The coaches know they have a quality scheme that put Carson Wentz in position to succeed and will do the same for Nick Foles. Fran pointed this out in his Eagle Eye column Friday, but the key for the coaching staff is whether or not the team continue to execute at a high level on third down and in the red zone. Wentz was able to bail the Eagles out of a lot of third-and-long situations with his playmaking ability. The Eagles must remain on schedule on first and second down to put Foles in as many third-and-short plays as possible. The atmosphere in the locker room was a positive one preparing for the Giants. There was no panic. It's not just the "next man up" mentality that has allowed the Eagles to be so resilient this season. It's the team's faith in Nick Foles and I don't expect sweeping changes to the offense in light of Wentz's absence.

Fran Duffy: Right now, this defense ranks in the top five against the run (first), rushing touchdowns allowed (third), takeaways (third), explosive pass plays (first), and long touchdowns (second). Those were all areas over the last couple of years that this defense has been criticized for. Despite missing key players throughout the year, this defense has consistently generated pressure on quarterbacks, stopped the run at an extremely high level, and created turnovers. Can the Eagles get a little bit better at all of the above? Of course. Can they get over some of the missed tackles we've seen in the last couple of weeks? Absolutely. The entire unit will need to step up just a little bit with the loss of Wentz, but I view this defense as championship-caliber.

Dave Spadaro: The defense is very capable of smothering the Giants and the Raiders and if they do that, the Eagles would clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage and the starting defense, most of them, wouldn't play in the finale against Dallas. And then there would be a bye week, which is golden for the defense.

The defense must tackle better and limit some of the big plays it's given up the last couple of weeks. This front four is still dominating. You will see that on Sunday against the Giants. This should be a decisive game at the line of scrimmage for the Eagles' defense.

Even in these weeks where it's been "struggling," the defense gave up 24 points to Seattle and 21 (taking away the blocked punt and the short-field touchdown drive after the first-possession interception) to the Rams. It's not like it's been torched the last two weeks. Trust Jim Schwartz and trust the front four. The Eagles are going to be just fine on defense the rest of the way.

Chris McPherson: If you haven't, watch the postgame locker room speech that safety Malcolm Jenkins gave to the team after the Eagles beat the Rams. I think that instantly set the tone that not just the defense, but it's time for the entire team to raise its game to make up for the loss of Wentz. Jenkins said he wanted to send a message to the team before the players heard questions from the media about how the team will win without Wentz. Looking back at the last two games, Russell Wilson had a performance for the ages in terms of his ability to evade pressure in beating the Eagles. Against Los Angeles, the Eagles struggled early with the misdirection and pre-snap play design of the Rams added in with the speed and power of running back Todd Gurley. But in the fourth quarter, after Wentz left, the Rams gained all of 10 yards on 12 plays with the game on the line. That alone showed me that this defense is ready to take its game to another level with so much to play for.

Dave Spadaro: It's a very touching gesture and it's wonderful to hear how much the fans love Carson and love this football team. Carson's rehab is underway. There is no timetable for his return. He will work extremely hard to get back and won't step on the field until he's 100 percent healthy.

Thank you for all of your best wishes and, in this case, your generous donation idea.

Fran Duffy: I've already looked into it for myself, unfortunately after years of competitive sports I don't know that my knees are looking much better these days.

Chris McPherson: Don't donate your ACL. I'm extremely confident in Foles and want fans to be able to jump and cheer and celebrate in the playoffs.

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