Hello again BGN Nation, it's been a while. Last time I wrote something here, Sam Bradford was the starting QB and I was breaking down the second week of preseason. I've been travelling which is why I've been unable to write anything but I'll have a film room post up every week until the end of the season breaking down the games.
I've decided to break these posts down into offensive and defensive sections and will post observations from everything I see from the all22. I'll post clips to help show something I've said if I think it's needed but obviously I can't post clips of everything. Also, the Bears all22 far away camera angle is awful and the quality isn't great so the majority of the clips are from the endzone angle.
Overall, a really nice performance with no turnovers. I absolutely love Doug Pederson's play calling and his use of personnel. He uses absolutely everyone on the roster really well to try and create mismatches and make things happen which is something you have to do when your offense isn't particularly talented.
Carson Wentz only had 190 passing yards on 34 attempts but overall the passing game was good and Wentz had another excellent game. Wentz should have had another 80 or so yards as Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor had bad drops. I won't breakdown Wentz too much as I'm sure you've already seen a lot of stuff on him by now. Let's focus on his pocket movement though because I thought it was absolutely outstanding.
This is beautiful. The way he is able to step up in the pocket while keeping his eyes downfield is a really important trait that some quarterbacks just don't have. He's incredibly poised and doesn't panic. Credit to Lane Johnson for recovering well here too.
I said on twitter that I feel like a kid on Christmas morning when Wentz rolls to his right because you know he's going to chuck it deep. This is clearly PI, but once again I love the pocket movement. He keeps his eyes downfield but feels pressure. The ability to extend plays is something the Eagles simply didn't have with Sam Bradford at QB.
Couple of things to note here. First off, Wentz stands tough and makes an awesome throw with pressure in his face which is great to see. Second, Kelce gets blown up here and he had a really rough night. Lastly, check out Trey Burton's route running here! He looks awesome.
Last clip I'll show of Wentz. The ball placement here is just unbelievable and it's an awful drop by Matthews. The offensive lines pass blocking is great here too. Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson complete dominate their man one on one which is awesome to see.
Final few notes about the passing offense: The pass protection for the most part was very good. Jason Kelce had an up and down night but Wentz was able to move around in the pocket which always helps the lineman. Wentz was very good in the pre snap phase all night, he made a number of line checks and audibles and seemed very calm even when the Bears blitzed him. I thought he was a little quicker eliminating reads that weren't there than he was last week too which is a good sign.
Drops were still a big issue. Matthews drop was as bad as it gets I thought Nelson Agholor should have done better on the underthrown deep pass and the drop on the fade route.
The Eagles did not really run the ball well at all Monday night. A lot of that was due to Kelce having a rough night but the interior offensive line as a whole struggled in run blocking. I would love to see Wendall Smallwood and Kenjon Barner get some extra snaps and Darren Sproles carry the ball less personally too. Doug tried a lot of things including 6 offensive lineman and even 7 offensive lineman at the end of the game to get the running game going. However, the running game picked up in the second half at times and Doug Pederson deserves huge credit for this.
Doug completely outfoxed Vic Fangio on a number of different occasions. I'm going to show you some clips of this but I first need to explain some points.
The Eagles ran quite a lot of plays with 6 offensive lineman (technically Matt Tobin lined up as the tight end but) and they would frequently run away from the strong side to try and catch the defense out. These counter plays weren't working particularly well but Doug was able to set them up as the clip below shows.
Here you can see the Eagles have Tobin and Celek on the left side of the formation. They had run a lot of counters earlier in this formation like I said. Wentz fakes the handoff to the right which makes it look like it will be another counter run to the weak side. This time however, they fake the counter and run to the strong side. The defense is a second slow to react to this and that gives Mathews just another yard of room to break a big run outside. They caught the defense out again with the same personnel as the clip below shows.
Yes I know, this is a passing play. I put it in the running game section though as it works so well because of the threat of the run. The Eagles have Tobin and Celek lined up to the right and they look like they are going to run that same counter play to the weak side of the formation. However, this time Wentz keeps the ball and rolls out to the strong side and Jordan Matthews is wide open for an easy gain. Just watch the two Bears linebackers (50 and 59) bite on this play action. It works perfectly because the Eagles were running to the weak side out of that formation all game.
Doug Pederson used misdirection really well to create these yards later in the game. Doug also used a lot of jet sweeps throughout the game and they completely fooled the defense because of this later.
Earlier on in the game, the Eagles ran a jet sweep with Josh Huff getting the football. Later, they used Huff as a decoy and had the running back run to the strong side where Celek was lined up at tight end. On the key 4th and 1 in the fourth quarter, they used Huff as a decoy on the jet sweep and it looked like Mathews would carry the ball towards the strong side just like earlier on in the game. Here's what happened instead.
Wentz fakes the handoff towards the strong side again but this time he pitches it to Mathews who has an easy walk in touchdown. This play is so effective because of the earlier plays he called from the same formation and personnel. Misdirection is so fun and effective when done well.
The Eagles pass defense was very good all night, especially when you consider that their cornerbacks aren't great. Jim Schwartz used a lot of man coverage this game and trusted his cornerbacks to match up with the Bears receivers. The Eagles played a lot of single high coverage too. Interestingly, I noticed that sometimes Malcolm Jenkins was the deep safety and Rodney McLeod was closer to the line of scrimmage.
The Bears recognized that the Eagles were running a lot of man coverage and tried a couple of man beaters to get their receivers open like the one below.
The Eagles defense was really disciplined though and managed to stop giving up big plays for the most part. Nolan Carroll does a great job here sticking with his man in the slot who runs the deep route to the left. Jay Cutler wanted to go there with the ball but couldn't. The pass rush was pretty good throughout the game and I loved the way Schwartz rotates the defensive line to keep everyone fresh too.
Something that stood out to me throughout the game was that Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham are both excellent in man coverage. Most teams struggle to have one linebacker who can cover a tight end or running back in man coverage so it's great that the Eagles have two of them.
Jalen Mills got beat badly by Alshon Jeffrey once but I thought he had a decent game overall. This play interested me.
This was a great tackle by Mills on Jeffrey, but it stuck out to me because Schwartz was willing to leave Mills on as island against Jeffrey. Rodney McLeod was in the middle but Schwartz was basically willing to have Mills just line up and cover Jeffrey one on one. The coaching staff must be super high on him.
Schwartz rushed four men for most of the game but he got creative on third down occasionally and I loved this blitz.
Barwin lines up as a linebacker before the snap but then puts his hand in the ground and the Eagles run a stunt with 5 defensive lineman. Barwin almost gets there and I think the defensive look put Cutler off who probably wasn't expecting it, Cutler then threw an awful throw that Ron Brooks should have picked off.
Brandon Graham was the best Eagles defender Monday night, he had an excellent game both against the run and at getting after the quarterback.
The ability Graham has to be able to bend the edge and also just over power offensive tackles must make him a nightmare to try and block. Here he shows great athleticism and bends the edge perfectly to get to Cutler.
The Eagles played a lot of man coverage Monday night but when they did play zone they were very disciplined like the play below.
It was 3rd and 8 here and the Eagles are in cover 2 zone coverage. The linebackers and cornerbacks drop quite deep to prevent a first down pass over them so Cutler has to check down. Jalen Mills and Nigel Bradham recognize the check down and explode towards the ball carrier and stop him 2 yards short of a first down. This play showed a good awareness of where the first down was and good discipline by the defense.
One final thing, because the Eagles are such an aggressive defense they can get caught out by screen passes and that happened once when Cutler found Eddie Royal on a screen pass that went for a big gain. It will be interesting if more teams try and attack the Eagles with screen passes.
For the most part, the Eagles run defense was fine but they did have moments where they weren't great. I thought Beau Allen had a really good game when he rotated in. The star of the show as I mentioned earlier was Brandon Graham though and here's why.
First play of the game, a huge hit by Graham that set the tone for the rest of his performance.
This play is even better though. He sheds two blocks and makes a great tackle behind the line of scrimmage. Let's hope he keeps this up all year.
In Jim Schwartz defense, the cornerbacks and safetys have to be able to set the edge at times because the front 4 are just trying to get up the field as quick as possible. Jalen Mills played safety in college at times so he's a very sure tackler and he showed that at times against the Bears.
Here Mills does really well to come up and force the runner back inside as well as making a good tackle on him. This is one reason why the team are so high on Mills I think. Stephen Tulloch also makes a great play here, shedding his blocker and helping Mills bring the ball carrier down.
That will do it for me this week. Let's end on a play that I just love though.
I love this play because to me it epitomizes Jim Schwartz's defense. Before the snap just look at the linebackers take a step forward, you know they are going to attack. Mychal Kendricks and Tulloch do a great job shedding a block and hitting the running back hard. Then Rodney McLeod joins in just to make sure the running back is going absolutely nowhere. Beautiful.