The Eagles beat the Cowboys in a meaningless week 17 game, but it was still nice to breakdown a win for the second week in a row. This post will be a lot shorter than usual, simply because I don't want to put too much emphasis on this game. So I'll try to focus on only the things I think are worth looking at. I appreciate you all reading these posts, I've enjoyed doing them and hopefully I'll have some good stuff in the offseason that you will all enjoy.
This game (shock) was just like all the other games on offense basically. The wide receivers gave the team nothing, Wentz was up and down but showed more positive than negative. Once again Wentz showed an incredibly ability to escape pressure and he also had a couple of really nice plays I wanted to highlight.
One thing Wentz has got a lot better at throughout the year is going through his progressions. Here you can see Wentz first looking at DGB running a comeback route on the top of the screen. DGB of course doesn't get open, so he resets his feet and fires a bullet across the middle to Ertz. I really like this route by Ertz. As I've said for weeks, people can laugh about Ertz only performing in December or whatever but he's playing really well right now. This is a really good route against Byron Jones who is a very good player. Ertz wasn't moving like this earlier in the season so I have to wonder how his injury impacted him. (Also watch Treggs next to Ertz use his hands well to come free downfield, more on him later).
I like this play a lot too. He once again comes off his primary read, resets his feet and shifts to his left to create a perfect throwing lane and throws a bullet to Paul Turner. The narrative that Wentz hasn't improved as the season has gone on is false. As well as he played earlier, he's better with his pocket movement and going through progressions than he was earlier in the season. The coaching staff deserve credit for that and it's why DeFilippo and Reich are getting interviews for higher positions right now.
This is another awesome play. After 17 weeks, I finally realized I could just label who to look at on a specific play if necessary by using the same editing software I've been using all year (oops). Anyway, let's break down this play. Wentz spots pre snap the cornerback I've pointed to creeping forward. Wentz then uses a hard count and he gets the cornerback to jump forward. Wentz now knows he's blitzing. After the snap, he quickly diagnoses it's man coverage and he knows there's no way the linebacker can get back to cover Ertz and he throws a lovely ball. This is a great job of Wentz recognizing the coverage both pre-snap and post-snap.
Right, I admit I am going to die on this hill alone. I may be the only Eagles fan who sees something in Treggs. Maybe it's because I'm used to watching DGB and Nelson Agholor so anyone who can get downfield impresses me. Here Treggs does a good job getting open. The problem is, Treggs can't track a ball to save his life it seems. Which is a problem. Here it looks like Wentz slightly overthrows him. But watch Treggs closely, he's turning round and looking for the ball at about the 20 yard line. That's way too early and it will slow him down. If he didn't turn around till the 10/15 and kept going at 100%, he may get this ball.
I didn't really look at running game much this week, I didn't think you could take away much from it. This play made me wonder something though.
I think there's a consensus from Eagles fans that Jason Kelce could be replaced in the offseason. But watch him on this play. He's so good in space. Yes he has issues at the point of attack, but I think the coaching staff will love this side of his game. Considering the Eagles run a lot of screens, Kelce is an important part of that. I wouldn't be surprised if the Eagles tried to replace him, maybe with Isaac Seumalo who is still athletic but slightly bigger. I'm just saying don't automatically assume that Kelce is gone.
Let's talk mainly about one player this week on defense. Jordan Hicks. I love this guy. He made some absolutely incredible plays this game.
Here's his first interception: he reads the screen pass and gets his hand into the throwing lane and tips the ball up in the air. He then makes a sort of freaky play and manages to catch his own ball. It's a great play, but wait for the next one...
This is so good. So, so good. He's on the right side of the screen here in zone coverage. He's moving to his right, just as the Cowboys wide receiver runs straight across his body. He shows incredible acceleration to stick with the receiver as he's running the drag route across the formation. If he tackled him straight after the receiver caught the ball, that would be a good play. That's what you expect to happen when a linebacker covers a wide receiver. But no. Hicks undercuts the route perfectly and makes an incredible interception. Hicks is a stud. Agholor may be bad and Rowe may be in New England, but at least we got Hicks from that draft class.
What more can I say about Brandon Graham this year?
In terms of a run defender, is there a better 4-3 defensive end than Graham? He's been incredible against the run all year. He looks so athletic on this tackle for loss. You can see him at left defensive end and he takes a hard step inside, he beats the tight end and the running back sort of gets scared and runs out the way of him. I've loved watching Graham play this year. I bought a Graham jersey when we signed him to a long term deal a few years ago, that's the proof I've always seen his talent! I didn't really expect him to play this well though.
Lets end the season with a play from my favorite defensive player to watch. I've already mentioned him in this article and I've mentioned him a lot this year. Jordan Hicks...
I hope you appreciate my fancy arrow pointing out Hicks too. Watch him on this play and no one else. He has the vision to keep his eyes on the running back but also look for potential blockers at the same time. He shifts to avoid the wide receiver who is trying to block him. Then he avoids number 73 by pushing away from him. At the same time as doing this, he's keeping his eyes on the running back. Then he finally tackles the running back at the sideline and prevents this play from being a big gain. Hicks is what you call a sideline to sideline linebacker. I think this is a fine way to end the season personally.
Once again, I hope you've enjoyed these posts all year. As always, feel free to ask any questions you may have.