The Philadelphia Eagles addressed concerns about the field conditions at Lincoln Financial Field by re-sodding about one-third of the grass earlier this week, less than a week prior to the NFC Championship against the Minnesota Vikings.
In a video on Twitter, the team showed new grass laid down in between the hashmarks in the middle of the field:
Eagles have re-sodded the pocket at Linc for NFC title game— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) January 18, 2018
Time lapse from @NBCPhiladelphia #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/k1cx1dNJtM
But new grass in the middle of the field in Philadelphia raises a couple of questions before the Vikings visit Sunday:
Why re-sod only the middle?
After any football game, it’s always the middle of the field that gets chewed up the most. That’s where the offensive and defensive linemen dig in their toes to try to bulldoze their opponents off the line of scrimmage.
But against the Atlanta Falcons, slippery conditions weren’t limited to the pocket.
Among the slips during the game, Julio Jones lost his footing near the sideline with about a minute left in the game on what could’ve been a game-winning touchdown for the Falcons:
It was one of many plays Vikings coach Mike Zimmer showed his team to make sure it’s prepared for the conditions. And it didn’t occur in the section of the field that Philadelphia chose to address.
“If it’s to the point where you’re slipping and you go out for pregame warm-ups and you don’t feel comfortable with the normal cleats then, yeah, you definitely have that option to have the longer cleat,” Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen said, via ESPN.
Minnesota and Philadelphia receivers will presumably have to deal with more slippery conditions on a night that’s expected to have temperatures in the 30s.
Is re-sodding even a good idea?
The new grass in the middle of Lincoln Financial Field is the third time a new surface has been put down in Philadelphia, according to the team’s website, and the second time just the middle of the field has been redone.
“Considering the weather the Northeast has had this winter, it’s probably one of the worst winters I’ve experienced in the last 20 years,” Eagles’ director of ground Tony Leonard said. “It’s been cold, with snow, both during games. We’ve had problems with the nozzles freezing on our paint machines. There has been rain, also during games.”
But new sod is often slippery, especially in cold and/or wet weather.
There’s a slight chance of rain in Philadelphia on Sunday, but it’ll likely be a dry NFC Championship. And the Eagles’ ground crew is confident the field will be ready to go.
Either way, the new grass at Lincoln Financial Field probably isn’t going to assuage the concerns of the Vikings.