As you get ready for a full day of Bengals-Eagles coverage, here are the 10 best stories (and more) in our Weekend Water Break, presented by Crown Royal.
1. 10 things to watch on Sunday
In his game preview column, Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro looks at one aspect of the matchup that hasn't been discussed much: the Bengals' height at wide receiver.
A tough matchup for the Eagles will be in the secondary as the Bengals will fan out a host of extremely talented wide receivers with empty-backfield sets to provide Burrow a bevy of options. Veteran A.J. Green is the star and he's rounding into form after missing all of 2019 with an ankle injury. Targeted 22 times, Green has only eight receptions, but don't let those numbers fool you. He's 6-4, he leaps out of the building, and he made seven straight Pro Bowls to start his career before suffering injuries in 2018. Sounds like a good matchup for Darius "Big Play" Slay. How do the Eagles cover the rest of the Bengals, who include Tyler Boyd, a crafty and very good receiver with length at 6-2 who works primarily out of the slot. Rookie Tee Higgins is 6-4. Mike Thomas, who scored a touchdown against Cleveland, is 6-1. The Eagles don't have the tallest cornerbacks. This is going to be a challenge.
2. Game Preview: Bengals vs. Eagles
As part of the Game Preview, presented by Unibet, Geoff Hobson from Bengals.com provided insight on No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow's start.
"He's been great not only on the field, but off the field as well. He was elected captain. That doesn't happen very often where a rookie becomes your offensive captain," Hobson said. "On the field, if the ref doesn't throw the flag in the opener, he's got a fourth-quarter comeback win after marching them down the field. Then, he put 30 points up on the board Thursday night after a 72-hour recovery period. He's been great. The concern around here is he's taking too many shots. He's been sacked a bit and they've had trouble getting the running game going. They're really trying to concentrate on protecting him."
3. Carson Wentz remains confident despite 0-2 start
It's been an uncharacteristic two games for quarterback Carson Wentz, who has thrown four interceptions and lost a fumble. But Wentz isn't going into a shell. Not at all.
"This business, this game, confidence can turn on people real quickly. And for us, it's going back to what you know. It's believing in yourself. It's the entire body of work ever since you were a kid and how you train, how you work, how you prepare," Wentz said. "There's going to be rough times, there's going to be rough patches. But guys just gotta lean in. I think we have a really good group of guys in this locker room that lean in on each other and trust each other and encourage each other no matter what the outside world's saying or feeling. We trust each other, we stay together and the confidence is still there and still sky high for this team."
4. Sibling rivalry takes on whole new meaning
For the fourth time in the NFL, brothers Press and Zac Taylor will coach against each other. Press and the Eagles won the last two matchups while Zac was with the Rams. This is the first time meeting since Zac became head coach of the Bengals in 2019. Zac, the older brother, insists Sunday's game is "strictly business as usual."
5. In adverse times, Eagles need D-line to lead the way
If the defensive line is the "engine that runs the defense," the Eagles need the D-line fired up on all cylinders Sunday, writes Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro.
6. Jim Schwartz takes the blame, how will players respond?
This Eagles defense doesn't resemble the previous ones of the Jim Schwartz era from a statistical standpoint. One of the strongest units in red zone, third down, run defense, and takeaways over the past four years is struggling in all of those areas right now. Schwartz fell on the sword for the defense's performance last Sunday against the Rams.
"The whole sort of theme was to try to make it as simple as we could. We've had success with that in the past. But in an effort to do that, also created a lot of conflict with what the guys were doing. It gave them a lot of stuff to look at," Schwartz said. "What I thought would make it easier didn't make it easier, it made it harder. Looking back at it, I came right in after the game and watched the tape. I really should have had a more complex game plan. It sounds funny to talk about, but a more complex game plan would have narrowed the focus of each individual player. Would have made it more difficult to execute, but it would have narrowed the focus. I think we could have done that. We went to that after about three series. We made a little rally, but it was too late. I take that on myself. It's my job to put the players in good positions. Particularly in the first three series, I didn't do a good enough job of doing that."
7. How do Eagles dig out of an 0-2 hole?
Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro offered five ways the Eagles can rebound after the slow start. No. 2 on the list is that Head Coach Doug Pederson must trust his leadership.
Pederson has great trust in the veteran leadership on this team and he's going to need that leadership now. Starts like this can quickly erode into a finger-pointing disaster. In years past, the Eagles have avoided finger pointing and they've turned their seasons around. Same deal here. No exceptions.
8. Eagles mourn the passing of Greg Brown
The Eagles learned on Saturday that former defensive end Greg Brown passed away at the age of 63. Brown ranks sixth on the Eagles' all-time sack list. His 50.5 sacks put him just behind Brandon Graham and just ahead of Fletcher Cox, so he is in pretty good company.
Yet even in Philadelphia few fans remember Greg Brown. That's because the 6-5, 265-pound defensive end played in those dreary years from 1982 through '86 when the Eagles were an NFC East bottom-feeder. It is too bad because he deserved better.
As Ray Didinger explains, Brown literally walked off a construction site and into the National Football League.
9. Eagles Autism Challenge raises more than $3 million
The Eagles Autism Foundation has announced that the 2020 Eagles Autism Challenge presented by Lincoln Financial Group raised more than $3 million for autism research and care, thanks to donors from 14 countries, nearly 3,000 virtual participants and 284 fundraising teams. One hundred percent of the participant-raised funds will be directed to groundbreaking autism research and programs.
10. Rodney McLeod named NFLPA's Community MVP
Safety Rodney McLeod was named the NFLPA's Community MVP for Week 2 on Friday. McLeod and the Change Our Future Foundation that he started with his wife, Erika, provided 40,000 pounds of fresh food, and voter registration and early-voting information at an event held Monday in the Allegheny West section of Philadelphia. This is the first of several events that McLeod will host this season through the "Everybody Eats Every Month" initiative to help families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, McLeod donated $25,000 to Philabundance.