In this week’s installation of Eagles Spotlight — a weekly series dedicated to breaking down the Eagles’ biggest plays of the season — we take a look at Malcolm Jenkins’ interception return for a touchdown against the Washington Redskins.
The Eagles offense was unable to muster much against the Redskins defense. This was Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s first start, and he struggled for most of the game as he lined up across from Ryan Kerrigan. With the offense unable to score, the Eagles only points at the juncture were the result of a kickoff return, and Kirk Cousins’ Washington team driving down the field, the Eagles needed a stop.
Jenkins stepped up and undercut Cousins’ pass and returned it for a touchdown, tying the score at 14. Let’s take a look at the pre-snap alignments and assignments.
The Eagles come out in Cover 1 Man with Rodney McLeod playing 20+ yards deep (Thanks, Desean). Mychal Kendricks is playing the underneath role as the WILL with Nigel Bradham coming off of the left side of the defense as the SAM. With the Eagles playing man coverage, it helps the players stay disciplined as they don't bite quite as hard on the play-action fake. As the offensive line tries to sell the play, they block down to the right side and completely leave Marcus Smith unblocked on the edge. Smith slightly bites on the fake but recovers quickly and gets pressure right in Cousins’ face. As Jenkins didn't buy the fake, he's in perfect position to undercut a weak pass from Cousins who is rolling to his weak side, unable to set his feet before the pressure arrives. For all of Marcus Smith’s faults and his inability to live up to his draft slot, he provides an element of pass rushing that the Eagles didn't have in a speed rusher. It’s early, but it appears that Derek Barnett is providing that element. Jonny Page and myself have broken down the elements of the Eagles pass rush in our podcast series. One more look at the play in it’s entirety below.
As always, if you have any plays you would like to see us breakdown, feel free to leave a comment below or send a tweet to @tjack94 or @jonnypage9!