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Eagles offense vs. Jaguars defense preview by the numbers

Philadelphia Eagles vs Detroit Lions Photo by Amy Lemus/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Another week, another stats piece! As always, the aim of these posts is to search through a lot of data, just like NFL teams will be doing, in order to try and predict what we might see and give you a bit more knowledge and things to look out for when watching the game. I will be using Sports Info Solutions as always.

Firstly, let’s look at the tendencies of the Eagles offense and some basic Jaguars stats before looking at a couple of matchups.

Eagles Tendencies

The Eagles remain an 11 personnel offense but we definitely saw some more 12/13 personnel last week as the Eagles wanted to run the ball early and often. It didn’t work very well but I wonder if we will see the Eagles use 12 personnel more this week, I’ll explain why later!

The offense has remained a shotgun offense with a lot of no-huddle and RPOs, I don’t see any reason this will change this week.

Jaguars Basic Stats

  • 307 yards per game allowed (7th best)
  • 5.2 yards per play (12th)
  • 55 rushing yards allowed per game (1st!)
  • 3.1 yards per rush attempt (4th)
  • 251 passing yards allowed per game (21st)
  • 6.5 yards per attempt allowed (14th)
  • -0.176 EPA per play (3rd)
  • -0.141 EPA per pass (5th)
  • -0.277 EPA per rush (2nd)

So looking at the basic numbers, it seems pretty clear you want to attack the Jaguars defense in the air! The rushing numbers are slightly skewed by them winning 2 games very easily, but they did play the Colts who run it a lot so the numbers are impressive. Let’s get to some specific matchups that interest me.

Passing Game

Single-high, let it fly?

Last week we saw the Eagles and Jalen Hurts be really, really aggressive against single-high coverage. I think we might see something similar this week. The Jaguars play a one-high shell at a reasonably high rate.

Hurts has been really good against single-high this year, throwing 31 completions on 43 attempts (72%) for 469 yards (4th highest).

Something that stands out about their defense is that they rank roughly around the middle of everything. They don’t do any one thing in particular and will show a lot of coverages and pressure looks throughout a game.

They do play a lot of zone coverage. They are not a heavy man coverage defense. They also like to bring a lot of zone blitzes with 5 defenders rushing the quarterback and 3 defenders in short zones and 3 deep defenders. The Eagles will have to be ready to play against the blitz as I have highlighted this as an issue with the Eagles offense all year.

When the Jags blitz, they do get pressure. They currently rank 8th with 49 pressures and 15th in sacks.

Throw out of 12 personnel?

This is something the Eagles have not done a lot of this year. It makes sense, they have 3 really good wide receivers and only 1 tight end who excels in the passing game. However, this may be the week to throw out of 12 personnel, especially on early downs. Here’s why...

Firstly, the Eagles have only thrown twice out of 12 personnel on 1st down, but it has gone pretty well.

Now, when the offense goes 12 personnel the Jaguars do not stay in nickel like a lot of NFL defenses but go with base personnel basically every time. This is the highest rate in the NFL.

When you go base personnel against 12 personnel, the odds are that you will put an extra man in the box and therefore you will play single-high. The stats back this up.

So what does this mean? It means that if the Eagles go 12 personnel on early downs, there is a good chance they will get single coverage on the outside for both DeVonta Smith and AJ Brown. I think the Eagles can absolutely take advantage of this and although they have not done it much this year, keep an eye out for the Eagles throwing out of 12 personnel. As I mentioned earlier, Hurts is really good against single-high this year too.

3rd and 7+

Last year, we would all say that running on early downs was vital for Hurts and the offense to stay on schedule. This year, the Eagles have been aggressive on early downs because they know they can win on 3rd and 7+. I expect this to continue this week as the Jags have actually been really bad when facing 3rd and 7+.

The Jags have allowed 13 completions on 19 attempts for 225 yards (1st most, the 2nd is 173 which is a huge gap) and 1 TD. So, if the Eagles do want to get aggressive throwing on early downs, I think they can have some confidence that they can pick up a few 3rd and medium/long if they need to.

Running Game

When to run?

The Jags run defense has been exceptional this year as I have highlighted throughout. They have faced the fewest run attempts (53) and only given up 165 total yards and only allowed 12 1st downs on the ground (2nd best in the league). If you look at the ‘success rate’ of runs, only 27% of runs against the Jags have been deemed a ‘success’ which is the best in the NFL by a significant margin (32% is next). I mentioned using 12 personnel to throw earlier because the Jags stack the box, this is highlighted by the Jags only allowing 33 yards on 10 attempts against 12 personnel.

On the other hand, the Eagles running game was really poor this past week but they still rank 10th in EPA per rush this year.

So what does this mean? I think the Eagles absolutely need to run still. They should certainly pass at a higher rate, but we know the Jags defense really wants to stop the run and will play base personnel and stack the box to stop the run. The Eagles need to use this to their advantage and keep the defense honest. The Eagles also still have an elite offensive line and there is no reason they can’t get it together this week. If the Eagles start running effectively, I think we will see a lot of single-high from the Jags defense and then the Eagles can start using play-action and throwing it with a higher success rate.

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