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The Eagles’ deep ball problem will get tested against the Lions’ offense

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The QB Scho Show #33!

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NFL: OCT 09 Eagles at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles’ defense has a deep ball problem. Whether it’s being burned by Terry McLaurin in Week 1, or by Calvin Ridley in Week 2, or all the issues they had against go and post routes in 2018, it doesn’t seem to be going away. It’s a significant problem with Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions coming to town on Sunday.

Why? Well, I’ll lead off with some thoughts on the Lions passing attack under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. This is from The QB Scho Show #33:

Matthew Stafford, over the last three years, let’s break this down with intended air yards, so the average distance in which Stafford’s throws traveled in the air on the way to the target...

Between 2016 to 2018, Stafford’s average intended air yards are anywhere from 7 to 8 yards, that’s firmly in the bottom half of the league for each year. In 2019, through the first two weeks, Stafford’s intended air yards are 10.9… third highest in the league.

Stafford currently leads the league in Next Gen Stats air yards to the sticks, throwing and average of 2.1 yards past the marker. Next Gen has been tracking this stat since 2016 and if that trends holds it would be the first year where he was in the black on air yards to the sticks.”

To further highlight Stafford’s newfound propensity for pushing the ball downfield, Pro Football Focus has some interesting analytics on throws that travel over 20 yards in the air. He ranks 2nd in the league in “Deep Passing” frequency, chucking nearly 23% of his throws over that 20-yard distance. The only quarterback that throws is deeper so far is Josh Rosen of the Miami Dolphins and he has less than a third of Stafford’s attempts.

Those attempts for Stafford have had mix results, going 8-for-17, 220 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, but if we’re trying to understand what the Sunday game might look like, this tells us that the Eagles secondary will be tested deep.

The Eagles will also be tested with play-action and from 12 personnel sets. On the season, the Lions have used two tights ends in the passing game 16 times with 14 completions, 183 yards, one touchdown and a 135.1 QB Rating. It’s been extremely efficient and effective for them. The Eagles have responded to 12 personnel with their BASE defense, utilizing three linebackers. Considering the sub-par play they’re getting from their linebackers in coverage, the could be a real problem.

We dive into this and much more on The QB Scho Show #33! 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!