UPDATE: This post was originally published on Nov. 16, 2016 -- three days after the Eagles defeated the Falcons by a final score of 24 to 15 in a Week 10 regular season game. With the Eagles set to play the Falcons in the Divisional Round of the 2018 NFL Playoffs this Saturday, I wanted to bring it back up. A lot of things have obviously changed since last year’s game but there are some ideas worth revisiting. Nice breakdown here by Jonny. — Brandon Lee Gowton
Just like the past couple of weeks, the Eagles had a great game plan and they executed it really well. This time however, they won! I had so many clips I wanted to show this week, I had to cut out a few and there’s also a lot of GIFs here that show multiple clips because I wanted to show you all as much as possible.
The Eagles passing game was incredibly efficient this week. Wentz saw the field very well, made smart decisions throughout the game and kept the chains moving whilst relying on the running game to do the heavy lifting. Doug Pederson proved yet again that he can call a really good game on offense. I’m so impressed with him this year. The Eagles had some great route combos that got Jordan Matthews open against the Falcons’ Cover 3, and I think Doug had a great feel for the game too.
I thought Wentz had a very good game overall. There were no deep shots open that he missed. He missed once in the red zone when he threw to Agholor on the out where he should have thrown the slant to DGB instead. Except for that he took what the defense gave him. He looked very calm in the pocket and his ball placement was exceptional throughout the game. His lower body mechanics were really good compared to last week, which stopped the ball from sailing on him and meant his accuracy was better.
Here you can see a play that the Eagles ran a few times and had a lot of success with. Both clips are the same exact play but flipped. The inside receiver takes away the safety, the linebackers come up and try to stop the in breaking route from the outside receiver, leaving Jordan Matthews wide open. The second play is obviously an awful drop but let’s ignore that for now. Look at Wentz’s pocket presence on both these plays too. This is exceptional. Also note the fact the Eagles are giving Big V help on longer developing plays still.
These three plays also show off Wentz’s great accuracy and pocket presence. The first one is a great play design, Matthews fakes like he’s running that deep crossing route that we saw from him throughout the game but he breaks it outside instead and it’s a great route by him and a great throw by Wentz. The second one is a simple case of great ball placement as he throws to Ertz’s inside shoulder. On the last throw, it’s a bullet from Wentz in between a tiny gap and it obviously should have been called as a helmet to helmet hit. Ignoring the missed penalty though, this was an incredible throw by Wentz.
We’ve seen some of these great misdirection screens throughout the season and Doug called a couple of them on Sunday that worked really well. This one was awesome. Using Agholor in motion before the snap adds a new wrinkle and the Eagles completely fool the Falcons defense who all move to the right. The Falcons actually don’t bite on Agholor’s fake but watch the linebackers when Wentz fakes the hand off to Jordan Matthews coming across the formation, they bite on that one.
Doug used Sproles really well Sunday too. He took advantage of the Falcons playing a lot of nickel by motioning Sproles from the backfield to receiver, meaning he would line up against a linebacker. Having Sproles stacked behind a receiver was a great idea too as it gave Sproles the option to go either way and he’s basically impossible to defend in man coverage on this play. Both these throws were on 3rd down too.
The offensive line was incredibly good pass blocking once again. This Sunday will be a much more difficult task however. I’m impressed by Big V but as you can see, on deeper drops the Eagles are still giving him help and I’m still not going to say he’s the right tackle of the future for certain. Right now though the Eagles are using shorter drops and getting the ball out quickly to help him and it’s working well.
I don’t really have any comment about the outside wide receivers. They weren’t really in the game plan against a bad Falcons secondary so that tells you all you need to know about the coaching staff’s opinion of them. I’d be surprised if they had any success at all against the Seattle. I imagine the offense will run through Matthews/Ertz/Sproles once again. Although we can have short term success like this, it’s certainly not a strategy for long term success.
Oh boy, the Eagles ran the ball well this week. Long gone are the days where the Eagles just run inside zone, outside zone and sweep plays (I don’t miss you Chip Kelly). The Eagles run game was incredibly varied this week, they ran a number of different plays throughout the game and they executed the plays so well. It was a great combination of incredible blocking, a great scheme and really tough running from both Ryan Mathews and Wendall Smallwood.
Every single offensive lineman played well. Wiz was excellent again, Brandon Brooks continued his strong season and the tackles played well too. The Eagles used Isaac Seumalo quite a few times as a 6th offensive lineman which was interesting to see. It’s interesting to see the Eagles using him as a tackle too when he’s the 6th lineman, considering his future is probably inside. The Eagles didn’t throw out of this personnel so Seumalo was only asked to run block but he played well. Jason Kelce deserves a huge shout out this week too.
Kelce has come under loads of criticism this season but he was outstanding Sunday. These two plays show Kelce at his very best. There is no doubt he struggles with bigger defensive tackles at the point of attack. But get him out in space and there is no one better.
Ryan Mathews looked fast this week. Faster than I’ve seen him all season. It reminded me of some of his really good performances last season where he was noticeably quicker than Murray. On the first run here, you can see Seumalo as the 6th offensive lineman and doing a good job. On the second play, check out Brandon Brooks and Big V with perfect blocks. The standout on the play is Wiz though. He helps Kelce and double teams the defensive tackle and then gets to the second level to take out the linebacker. Awesome stuff. I only realized this week that Allen Barbre is 32 years old and although he’s been excellent this year, it makes you wonder if Wiz will be back as a starter next year.
These were my other favorite runs from the game. In the first clip, Ryan Mathews shows great speed and power to burst through a small whole and turn it into a big game. In the second clip, the Eagles have 6 offensive lineman again and Seumalo and Peters do a good job doubling the lineman, Wiz does a good job creating a hole here too and Smallwood runs really hard. I don’t think Smallwood will ever be a feature back personally, but he does hit the hole hard and can fight for tough yardage despite not being the biggest guy.
The Eagles were really good against a good running team in the Falcons. Freeman is a really, really good running back. He looks like he’s shot out of a cannon on most of his runs. This game made me realize just how good Bennie Logan is. He was outstanding. He didn’t even have a tackle but he was disruptive.
These three plays show how disruptive and dominant he can be. On all three of these plays, he gets off the initial block so quickly. In the first one he’s one on one with a guard which is always going to be good news for the Eagles. In the second clip he’s actually double teamed but he explodes through the gap. In the final clip, once again he’s one on one with the guard and it’s too easy for him. The Eagles can be more varied with Logan out there too. Both Cox and Logan can play the 1 tech and 3 tech position whereas Beau Allen is solely a 1 tech. You can see Logan making plays as the 3 tech here. Cox was also outstanding against the run.
Every week I talk about Jordan Hicks. I love him. I’ll just show one play this week but it was the first play of the game and I think it set the tone throughout the game.
Show this clip to those who say Hicks is too small to get off a block. Here he shoves the guard back and shows great strength while keeping his eyes on the running back at all times. He then makes a great tackle on Freeman. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Bradham was excellent against the run too as was Brandon Graham. The Eagles played a lot of cover 2 this week which meant the front 7 had to be excellent against the run without having a safety in the box and they really were. I need to give Mychal Kendricks a big shout out because I thought he was excellent in limited snaps on Sunday. He’ll probably have a fresh start after this season but I’ve said for ages that he is unfairly criticized by a lot of the fan base. He can still make plays, rush the quarterback and he’s still so athletic.
The first play is a great tackle and read. The inside receivers is supposed to clear him out but he reacts quickly to the short throw to Julio Jones and comes up and makes a great open field tackle on someone who is incredibly difficult to bring down. Watch him on the second play too. The offensive lineman tries to block him but he manages to avoid the block and shows great hustle to tackle Freeman in the open field. If Kendricks doesn’t make this play there’s a good chance Freeman takes this ball to the house. I know I’m probably the only Kendricks fan left but I still see a lot of talent there and I hope if he does move on to a new team next year he can play a bit more and show it.
This was a really interesting game. The Eagles didn’t double cover Julio Jones at all. The Eagles have shown that they will double cover receivers too as they did it with Antonio Brown. Schwartz called a lot of cover 2 but they did at times line up in man to man coverage with a single high and leave Nolan Carroll and Jalen Mills one on one with Julio. Also, Ryan didn’t just instantly throw to Julio when he was one on one with Mills or Carroll which shows he respected them. I thought both Carroll and Mills had really good games which is great to see. Malcolm Jenkins was a stud in the slot too. He covered Sanu very well and covered Julio really well too when asked. How many players can play slot cornerback in nickel and then box safety in base like he can?
These two plays show what I mean. On the first, he knows where the first down marker is and has really tight coverage on the receiver and makes the tackle before the receiver gets the first down. Then on the second play he comes down into the box and makes a great tackle on Freeman behind the line of scrimmage. Seriously, how many players can do what he can in the NFL right now? Jenkins is incredible. Also on the first clip, look at Mills at left cornerback in man coverage against the comeback route. He basically runs the receivers route for him. Everyone talks about the need for a stud cornerback here but the defense is playing really well without one right now. McKelvin obviously got burned again and he isn’t looking great clearly but Mills and Carroll are both playing pretty well.
Let’s end this week by looking at a very special player, Fletcher Cox.
Check out the hustle by him on the first clip. If anyone thought he would stop giving it his all after a big contract, you were wrong. He chases back Freeman on the screen pass and although Freeman is already being brought down, it’s good to see so much hustle and effort from a player who could easily not chase back here. On the second play, it’s Cox at his best. He gets one on the one with the guard because the Falcons choose to double team Logan instead and Cox dominates the guard and forces Ryan to step up with gives Graham a sack. If you’re going to go empty against the Eagles (a staple of the Seahawks offense by the way), you’re are going to have to leave either Cox or Logan to be blocked by one offensive lineman. You better make sure he’s a good one!
Thanks for checking this out as always, let me know any thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!