Patriots pass rush needs to find a way to make Foles uncomfortable

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Ricky Jean Francois
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 13: Ricky Jean Francois /

Nick Foles is a game manager, not an elite quarterback. The New England Patriots need to find a way to rattle his cage in Super Bowl LII.

Patriots fans will want to hear Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, James Harrison, Ricky Jean Francois, and other pass rushers names called a ton on Sunday night. If they do, it’s probably because the New England front 7 is finding a way to get to Eagles QB Nick Foles.

Foles, whose proper place is as a backup in the National Football League, will attempt to lead Philadelphia to a Super Bowl win over the bend but don’t break New England defense. He’s a game manager, and the Patriots will have to find a way to make him uncomfortable. It shouldn’t be that difficult if they can actually reach him.

Reaching Foles is the tough part though. The Eagles have one of the best offensive lines in the league, with players like Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce locking things down. The weakness is on the left side though, with Halapoulivaati Vaitai in as the left tackle, replacing the injured Jason Peters. While Pro Football Focus ranked the Eagles O-Line as the best in the NFL, Vaitai was the clear weak link. He had the lowest grade this season on their line at just 39.1. For comparison, center Jason Kelce was at 93.2.

The Patriots will clearly try to attack the left side of the line, where Vaitai may rely on help from a tight end, guard, or a running back in order to slow New England down. Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise may swap back and forth between the sides where they line up, and linebackers like James Harrison, Kyle Van Noy, and Marquis Flowers could also look to join the action.

New England had a franchise record 8 sacks in their Divisional Round win against the Titans a few weeks ago, but they had just 3 in the AFC Championship Game.

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The pressure needs to find its way to Eagles QB Nick Foles if the defense really wants to shut down the Philly offense. They usually bend but don’t break, but they’ll look to limit the yards tonight too. The Patriots defense will get their chance to shine when Super Bowl LII kicks off at 6:30 PM from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.