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Eagles All-22 Film Review: Observations from the loss to the Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Hello everyone, another week, another film room! Just like last week, this one is pretty depressing... so apologies in advance!

I will be breaking down film on my Twitter account and then uploading the tweets with some more analysis in this piece. I obviously cannot post everything so I will focus on certain things each week that stand out to me. I might see something a few times on film but only upload one example as you don’t need to see everything, so you will have to take my word if I say that I have seen something multiple times.

I am going to break down the offense followed by the defense each week and I will post the plays in order so you can see how the game played out. Sometimes I might focus on a specific area, I will see how each game plays out. I am simply choosing the most important plays and highlighting some players that stood out to me. As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments and I look forward to discussing the game with you all. Let’s get to the film!

OFFENSE

So I am going to start this week by doing something you may not expect... I am going to defend Nick Sirianni. He deserves a lot of criticism for the offense this year but this was the first game I thought he called a game that suited his quarterback and aimed to establish the run. It was obvious extremely early on that this was a different offense and one that doesn’t ask his quarterback to do a great deal. I am not sure it is a great sign for his belief in Jalen Hurts but this was the right decision in my opinion.

Once the Eagles managed to establish the run, they started building off this with some play action from under center which was great to see. Hurts also looked comfortable under center and this was his best throw of the night by a distance. Sirianni took advantage of a Raiders defense that is quite predictable with its coverages (a lot of single high/cover 3) and called some good plays to flood certain areas of the Raiders zone coverage.

Go back and watch the offense the last few weeks and you will not see another drive like the Eagles’ first drive this night. It was a completely different philosophical approach to the game and the Eagles clearly wanted to commit (finally!) to running the ball this game.

We even saw a designed QB run! I would like to see more of this moving forward. I think we know at this point that Hurts is a limited passer but we also know he is a very strong runner. Sirianni speaks all the time about adjusting his system to his players but this is something that we should be doing more frequently moving forward.

But I can hear you asking already - why did we change?! Why didn’t we stick to this approach? Again, I am going to slightly defend Sirianni here and explain why we couldn’t stick to this approach all game.

Firstly, let’s touch on this tweet that was being commented on this week. Sirianni should not have said this publicly but I do think he had a point.

If you want to play the way the Eagles did early on then you can’t fall behind.

Let’s look at the Eagles drives this game. 1st drive was excellent and the Eagles scored a TD. 2nd drive started on their own 4 yard line, was not successful and resulted in a punt (and an injury to Miles Sanders). The 3rd drive was also not successful and they struggled without Miles Sanders to carry on running effectively. The 4th drive was one play because Kenneth Gainwell fumbled.

By the time the Eagles got the ball in the 2nd half, they were losing 24-7 and then they have to completely change their approach to the game. Sirianni had to move away from the running game and put the game on Jalen Hurts again because the defense could not get a stop. You can complain about a lot of things, but you can’t complain about Sirianni changing his approach up after being down 24-7 and losing Miles Sanders.

Now.... when they did have to change the offense and start throwing the ball more, the offense looked terrible again. Hurts was bad. The offensive line didn’t pass protect well. The receivers didn’t get open. It was just a bad, bad watch again.

We have spoke a lot in the past about Hurts’ inability to stand in the pocket and deliver and it was on show again in this game. His natural instinct is to drift outside the pocket and I’m not sure whether you can coach it out of him at this point.

As I said in the tweet, I am not for one ‘hot takes’ and I always try to be honest with what I see. I did not think DeVonta Smith had a good game. Hurts threw some inaccurate balls at him but you would like your top receiver to make some tough catches. I was a bit disappointed with his ability to get open on the outside this game, as the example below shows. Before I get everyone triggered, I have been impressed by Smith throughout this season and I think he would have far better numbers in a better offense with a better quarterback. I just didn’t think he had a good game.

Final one from me on the offense... if the Eagles are going to commit to establishing the run and running a lot more then I think Jordan Howard should be active. The Eagles really struggled when Sanders got hurt in this game. I like both Gainwell and Boston Scott a lot but they are neither of them are players you want to line up under center and run the ball frequently with. They are both chance of pace backs. Annoyingly, I thought Sanders was excellent at the start and looked poised for a big game (my fantasy teams could have done with this too...).


DEFENSE

I have defended Sirianni but I have nothing for Jonathan Gannon. It was bad. I completely understand the 2-high approach and stopping big plays and I think it is an important part of the modern game. But you can’t be so deep and passive that an offense can just pick up easy yards. This game was so hard to watch on defense. The problem with trying to stop big plays by putting everyone back is that a quarterback with time in the pocket can still make excellent plays. Derek Carr was awesome this game. This is a beauty of a throw. Also, I do not know if Fletcher Cox is actually covering the running back here or whether he just gets pushed back and decides to do it...

I hate this play. Look how far back everyone is! You cannot play defense this scared. There was barely any disguising of coverage this game. No press from the corners. Barely any man coverage (I don’t know the stats but I honestly can remember no more than 1 or 2 plays of man coverage). The two safeties were so far back all of the time. As I said earlier, I hate criticizing coaches for their philosophy because I understand how important it is to prevent big plays but it is just too easy to play against the Eagles defense. As a quarterback, I would love to play against the Eagles defense. What would you be afraid of? What do the Eagles do to try and confuse you pre or post snap?

Another point I want to make... we live in an era of analytics and all coaches are trying to find an edge wherever they can. I understand that preventing big plays is a huge part of winning in the modern game. However, football is a physical game and you can’t measure the impact of certain things such as momentum, aggression, physicality etc. If you are a defense that plays under a coach that plays so defensive and so passive, where do you get your energy from? When an offense is consistently picking up yardage running the ball and imposing their will on a game it can be really hard to compete mentally and physically. I’m not defending the players here as too many of them are not playing well but it must be hard for them with this current scheme.

I really wouldn’t mind sending a blitz, hitting the quarterback but giving up a few yards. On the stats sheet it may look negative, but you can’t measure what it does to a quarterback. Maybe he gets rid of the ball early the next play. Maybe he perceives pressure when there isn’t any. Being aggressive on defense is part of being a good defense and this defense (largely due to its scheme in my opinion) just looks bland, weak and passive.

If you line up with 6 in the box (including a linebacker who struggles against the run) against a team who like to run the ball on early downs with a good running back then you are going to give up a lot of yards. Nothing complicated here. It’s just math. Nothing else to add.

I don’t really want to pick on individuals too much (especially in this scheme) but I thought Davion Taylor really struggled this game and if you watched his college tape it isn’t too surprising. This scheme is tough on the linebackers so I feel a bit for Taylor but he needs to be a lot better than this to have a role moving forward on the Eagles defense. He is late to read and react to the run and he also just isn’t physical enough when players run at him. I want my linebackers to be able to take on a fullback and win more often than not. Taylor lost far too often this game.

I could show 30 plays this week that all show the same thing but I’ll leave it here because I’ve had a bit of a rant already about the defense. It’s weak. It’s passive. And it gets what it deserves.

That’s all for this week. As always, I appreciate you reading and always try to reply to any questions you have in the comments. Cheers all!