The Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles are both undefeated headed into Week 3, and to get the inside scoop on the opposition, I was able to sit down with Adam Hermann of Bleeding Green Nation (SB Nation's Eagles website), to ask him some burning questions heading into the keystone battle.
Check out the interview below.
Carson Wentz is 2-0 as a starter in the NFL. Are Eagles fans claiming him as the next great thing, or are more fans pumping the brakes considering the opposition early in the 2016 season?
Eagles fans are loving every second of it. There was a little trepidation after the first week because very few people can get true, genuine excitement out of beating the Browns, but this kid is too good to hold back. Who knows the next time fans will get excited about a rookie, and then he'll *eclipse* their expectations instead of falling short? It's a rarity. Wentz makes all the throws, he has solid poise in the pocket, he's got the size and the smarts — really, there's something for every kind of football fan to enjoy. He just might be the future of the franchise for the next decade.
I have to be honest, as a NFC East team, I hardly recognize this Eagles roster anymore. With such tremendous turnover, who are some players Steelers fans should be keeping an eye on in Week 3, both offensively and defensively?
It's hard to blame you; after Chip Kelly had his way with the roster, and then Howie Roseman did his best to unload those Kelly moves, there's been plenty of shuffling.
On the offensive side, you're going to want to keep an eye out for tight end Trey Burton. The Eagles' best pass-catching tight end, Zach Ertz, is out this Sunday because of a rib injury he suffered in Week 1, which means Burton is the team's second tight end behind Brent Celek. Burton only had three career catches coming into Monday Night Football in Week 2, but he caught five passes for 49 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. I've long been a fan of his, and he validated everything I'd ever said. He's got a long career ahead of him catching passes in this league.
On the other side of the ball, beware of the speeding bullet that is safety Rodney McLeod. McLeod played for the Rams for the first three years of his career, and he was a serious disruptor, piling up 20 turnovers either forced or recovered in those three years. He already has an interception this season, and he's got incredible closing speed. He may not even stand 6-foot, but he plays much bigger. You'll see him darting around the field on Sunday.
The Eagles are a tough nut to crack in terms of what their strengths and weaknesses are. If you were to pinpoint one strength and one weakness heading into this game, what would they be (could be offense or defense or both).
Their strength, thus far, is the way they control the flow of the game. Granted, the first two wins of the season came against bad-to-awful teams, but Doug Pederson is no Chip Kelly: he wants the ball in his offense's hands, and he wants his defense off the field as fast as possible. The Eagles have run the ball at least 30 times in each of their first two games this year, and they've owned the time of possession in both games. When they score on those long, winding drives, and then Jim Schwartz's defense takes the field, nice and rested? Good luck.
A weakness, I guess, would be their defense's penchant for allowing big plays here and there. The Bears' Alshon Jeffery hauled in a 50-yard catch against Jalen Mills, Eddie Royal took a screen for another big gain, and the Browns had at least two big passes, one to Corey Coleman and the other to Terrelle Pryor. The defense has only allowed 17 points this season, but those big plays could turn into big points against a far more competent offense, which the Steelers surely have.
The Pittsburgh offense is one of the best in the league. In a rain soaked affair with the unit looking "off", they still hung 24 points on the Bengals defense. What are the Eagles going to try and do to slow down Big Ben and the boys?
Jim Schwartz isn't afraid to throw blitzes at a quarterback. The Steelers will probably have a solid first half, because Schwartz's defenses have been a little slow to start before really kicking it into overdrive in the second half. They forced all four of their turnovers in the second half so far this season, and knocked both opposing quarterbacks out of the game in the second halves. Watch out for Brandon Graham coming off the edge; the veteran defensive lineman is having himself an exceptional start to the season.
On the back end, the Eagles obviously haven't talked about what they plan to do against Antonio Brown. In the past years, Billy Davis didn't believe in helping his outside corners with star receivers (not his best decision), but we haven't seen Schwartz's hand forced yet. They threw a couple of different looks at Alshon Jeffery, but largely played him straight up and lived to tell the tale. It'll be interesting.
The Steelers haven't won a game in Philly since the '60s. What is your prediction for the game, and your final score?
I think Carson Wentz *finally* faces a team worthy of his greatness. (I'm only kind of kidding.) The Eagles have had a good start, but the Steelers are another class of team, even without Martavis Bryant and Le'Veon Bell. Wentz throws his first pick as the Eagles try to climb back into the game after early Steelers scores.
Steelers win, 27-17.