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Eagles vs. Commanders preview by the numbers

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Football Team Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

After last week’s post, I am going to stick to keeping this article as one post after the feedback. As always, using Sports Info Solutions. Here we go!


Eagles Offense

The Eagles' offense continues to run a little bit more 12/13 personnel each week but they still only use 3 types of personnel packages.

Big news: the Eagles have overtaken the Dolphins as the most RPO-led offense in the league!

Eagles Defense

The Eagles ran more 2-high zone coverage this past week so the man coverage rate has decreased slightly, but the Eagles remain a light box defense and I doubt that will ever change. The blitz rate has slightly

Commanders Offense

The Commanders’ offense is pretty much 11 personnel all the time. Expect to see Maddox play close to 100%!

The offense uses a lot of play-action which the Eagles struggled with a bit last week so it’s worth keeping an eye on this. The RPO numbers are high as well, I don’t think the Eagles' defense have played an RPO-heavy defense so I will also be keeping a close eye on this.

The Commanders do not like running into stacked boxes but I would expect them to try and run on the Eagles' light boxes early on.

Commanders Defense

Similar to the offense, the Commanders’ defense only runs a couple of personnel packages. The Commanders’ defense is actually really interesting (and underrated I think) and I’ll explain why below. They do not like playing 3 linebackers ever and play the most DIME of any team in the league.

The Commanders’ defense is very balanced between man and zone coverage and they don’t like blitzing much. They prefer safety on the backend.

This is a very heavy 2-high light box defense. Looking at the tendencies, you would think the game plan should be to run at this team but as I will show you next, the Washington run defense is actually pretty good. That’s quite impressive but it is not easy to stop the run when you play with a lot of light boxes and two-high shells.

Statistical Matchup

Eagles Offense vs. Commanders Defense

I think the Commanders’ defense is actually pretty good. The EPA numbers are impressive and the yardage totals are good when you consider how bad the offense has been and the fact that they haven’t got many turnovers. If this defense started getting turnovers, the numbers would improve too. It is pretty incredible that the run defense has the 2nd best EPA per play despite the fact they play with light boxes at the 3rd highest rate! That is really impressive and these numbers suggest the Eagles should attempt to throw a little more than they run unless they think their offensive line and RPO scheme can take advantage of light boxes.

Eagles Defense vs. Commanders Offense

I praised the Commanders’ defense, but the offense is just flat-out bad. The EPA numbers are all bad and the only thing they do ‘average’ is not turn the ball over. Taylor Heinicke takes fewer sacks than Carson Wentz, so the numbers have been lower the past few weeks, but the offense still has not been good. The Eagles' defense should be heavy favorites in this matchup.

2 Key Matchups

Early Down Run Game

I mentioned earlier that the Commanders’ run defense is excellent. However, when you play that many light boxes (especially on 1st down) you have to be susceptible against the run, and the raw statistics highlight that. The Commanders’ run defense has allowed 1020 yards on 233 carries (4.3 YPC) this season. However, on 1st down, they have allowed 639 yards on 133 carries (4.8 YPC) because they like to play light boxes on 1st down. If we get even more specific, the Commanders have allowed 368 yards on 71 carries (5.2 YPC) on 1st down runs when the offense is in 11 personnel.

Basically, if the Eagles want to run the ball, they should do it early and from 11 personnel as the Commanders are more worried about giving up the big play than stopping the run.

However, there is also another time when the Eagles should run the ball on early downs - when Jonathan Allen is not on the field. These are the 1st down EPA numbers when Jonathan Allen is on/off the field this year.

Basically, running the ball on early downs when Jonathan Allen is on the field has a negative impact. When he is off the field, running the ball has a positive impact. Keep a close eye on number 93 in this game.


Taylor Heinicke, like most below-average quarterbacks, is bad when faced with pressure. In particular, pressure when blitzed. On blitzes this year when Heinicke he is pressured, he is 7/15 for 61 yards. That is 4 YPA which is absolutely brutal. The Eagles should not be afraid of blitzing Heinicke in this game. In fact, Heinecke is 13/23 against the blitz this year for 153 yards

Heinicke also has the highest turnover-worthy throws in the NFL since entering the line-up just a few weeks ago and the Eagles' defense should feel really confident in this one.

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