Welcome back to the Eagles Spotlight series! For those that are new Jonny Page and myself will be releasing weekly articles breaking down some of the biggest plays from the Eagles’ 2016 season. You can read last week’s installments here and here. This week I wanted to take a look at Carson Wentz’s 16 yard pass to Jordan Matthews against the Giants in Week 9.
Before breaking down the play, lets take a look at the pre-snap lineups/formation.
The Eagles come out in the pistol formation with three receivers and a tight end. Two receivers are split to weak side and one to the strong side (the strong side is typically defined as the side where the TE is lined up). The situation is the Eagles are down 21-10 at the two minute warning, so it is likely going to be a passing situation despite being in Giants territory. New York comes out in their nickel package with five defensive backs, two linebackers and four down linemen in a Cover 2 shell.
Above are the route combinations that are ran against this coverage and below is the coverage the Giants drop into post snap.
As you can see, the Giants showed Cover 2 pre-snap and shifted to Cover 3 post-snap, which works in the Eagles’ favor. The route concept the Eagles run is the ‘Sail’ route, which is essentially a three level stretch play that is most effective against Cover 3. This play can be ran from different formations, but it always has a combination of three different routes—a flat, corner/deep out and a fade route—to the same side of the field. Here the outside receiver runs the fade route while Matthews releases inside to sell the route before cutting upfield and breaking to the corner with Sproles releasing to the flat off of the play-action fake.
The fade route, which is the first read on the play, doesn't present itself as an option due in part to the defensive alignment, but mostly because of the receivers inability to get a bit of separation. The fade does end up occupying the deep corner while the nickel corner who is playing underneath is forced to choose between the flat or the corner route. In this instance it doesn't appear as though he noticed Matthews break back towards the corner, opening him up of a nice gain of 16 yards. I do have to add a disclaimer that Wentz could've lead Matthews a little more, but Matthews made the catch unnecessarily difficult. One last look at the play in it’s entirety.
If you have any plays that you would like Jonny or myself to break down, make sure to leave a comment or send either of us a tweet (@tjack94/@jonnypage9).