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Vikings’ screen and play-action concepts present a problem for the Eagles

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The QB Scho Show #36!

Minnesota Vikings v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles (3-2) start their three-game, pre-bye road stretch against a familiar face this week. After squirming his way out of the toxic organization in Washington, Kirk Cousins found a new home with the Minnesota Vikings (3-2). Overall, the results have not been great and there’s still the question of his lack of quality wins, but they’re still a capable team that has played markedly better football at home this year.

Looking at the way their passing attack is constructed, it’s perfectly tailored to give the Eagles’ defense fits. Not only do they have two stud wide receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, but if Mike Zimmer smells the coffee on rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr.t hat would create three different match-up problems. Beyond the personnel, the scheme of the Vikings is one with which the Eagles have struggled.

We talked about this in-depth on The QB Scho Show #36, with the following quotes coming from a loosely transcribed portion of the show:

KIST: I was doing prep for this game and one of the first games I watched was the newest one against the Giants... You watch this Vikings offense, their early scripting kind of tells you what they want the offense to be pretty much all the time. It was play-action boot, play-action boot, there was a toss in there, there was a play-action boot screen. Like this is the formula for the Vikings’ offense, right?

SCHOFIELD: Yeah, this is what they do primarily... we’re now five games in, we know what teams want to be for the most part. And they want to be a team that runs the ball. Y’know Kirk Cousins isn’t throwing a ton of passes right now, they’re a run heavy team. They want to give you a ton of wide zone and outside zone and they want to build in play-action boots off of that. They do a ton in the screen game...

Speaking of the screen game, I did a breakdown on how it’s been effective for the Vikings so far this season. With the benefit of a healthy Dalvin Cook, the Vikings are a top three team in EPA and success rate on screens. The Eagles’ defense on the other hand are bottom third unit in both metrics.

For all the talk about play-action and screens, the Vikings had a slightly different formula that beat the Eagles last year...

KIST: The last time the Eagles’ played Cousins I was very about the play-action but I was also surprised to see how much quick game they used because of the way the Eagles deploy their coverage and Cousins was very effective... So I think overall despite this not being like a bombastic passing attack to this point, I think they can still definitely hurt you.

Image via NextGen Stats

That’s not to say the Vikings didn’t hurt the Eagles with play-action either. In that Week 5 tilt they utilized run fakes on 37% of the passes and Cousins went 11-for-13, 108 yards and a touchdown against the Eagles. This year they’re using it at the leagues 7th highest rate. If you take the Jets’ game out of the equation (because Luke Falk), the Eagles are allowing a 133.1 QB Rating against play-action this year. That’s a problem.

We dig into more Cousins while also taking a look at Carson Wentz’s performance against the Jets plus discussions about Jared Goff and Russell Wilson on The QB Scho Show #36! You can listen on the media player below or click here if the player doesn’t load. New to podcasts?! Check out our guide on how to listen to BGN! FLY EAGLES FLY!

(note: listen to the end to hear about a special contest because The QB Scho Show needs a logo and if yours is the winner, it could land you with some free swag and I might even give you my job!*) *restrictions apply