Welcome back to the Eagles Spotlight series! My past installments have been on the offensive side of the ball so I decided to turn my attention to the defensive side to spotlight one of the emerging stars in the league. The play chosen for this week was Jordan Hicks’ interception against the Cowboys in Week 8.
Above is the referenced play. What makes it so vital is the situation in which it occurred. The Eagles were tied with their rivals with a minute and a half remaining in the first half. With the vaunted Cowboy offense in a 2nd-and-goal situation, rookie QB Dak Prescott dropped back to pass and threw right into traffic where Hicks intercepted the terrible decision.
Above is a look at the coverage the Eagles come out in to combat the Cowboys’ formation that includes trips to Prescott’s left and a single receiver—Dez Bryant—to his right. The Eagles are in Cover 1 man with Hicks playing the underneath role that allows him to spy on the quarterback if need be, and take away short to intermediate crossing routes.
The image above is a look at the play post-snap. Prescott elects not to go to Bryant on the fade—as he unsuccessfully did the play before—before flipping his head to the middle of the field. From there you can see Hicks wave the free safety, Rodney McLeod to his left while reading Prescott’s eyes. With McLeod in position, Dak cannot throw a pass in time to lead the first crossing route, so he eyes the second one coming in behind it. Hicks reads that and drifts in front of it for an interception in the end zone.
Another look at the play and you can see all of the aforementioned concepts come together. Hicks repeatedly showed the ability to read offenses and make the right calls/plays all season long. As mentioned before, it was a bad decision by Prescott more than it was an outstanding play from Hicks, but a MIKE linebacker has to know where everyone is and execute when called upon. Big players make big time plays and that’s exactly what Hicks has done in his first two years, especially against the Cowboys.