I know it’s Dallas week and everyone’s a little low after the Jalen Hurts injury news, but Eagles vs. Bears was a really interesting game from a film perspective so let’s get straight into it.
Someone asked me in the comments last week to number the plays so it is easier to discuss plays in the comments. Each play is now numbered but keep in mind the plays are not in order here because I post them here in a different order than I post them on Twitter. Let me know if you like the change, please!
Overall, it was actually a pretty good game on offense considering the conditions. However, the Eagles had 3 huge negative plays in the passing game (2 interceptions and 1 fumble) which obviously made the passing EPA less than you may expect. The running game looks good, but it is worth pointing out that Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell had negative EPA and the only positive rusher was Jalen Hurts.
This was the most up-and-down Jalen Hurts game in a while, but after a shaky start, I actually think he played well and he threw the ball outside the numbers really well. I can’t comment on the conditions because I wasn’t there, but I think it’s reasonable to assume that the conditions caused Hurts some issues, especially early on. Let’s begin with the most ridiculous play out of structure I think I have ever seen from Jalen Hurts...
#2 Had to post both angles of this one. This is a ridiculous out of structure throw from Hurts. And it's to his left where historically he's been weak! How many other QBs are making this throw - 3? 4? pic.twitter.com/FMzPKqxWc8— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
The interception is a rare terrible decision from Hurts. It’s a mirrored stick concept (stick concept to both sides) and Hurts should just take the check down. It’s possible he was hyped up after the past play so he tries to make a huge play and the ball just dies in the wind. I would like to see the Eagles be a little better outside of structure still as Quez Watkins runs into the same zone as AJ Brown which brings over another defender but anyway, this throw is all on Hurts.
#3 The INT came the very next play. It's a mirrored stick concept and Hurts needs to eliminate what isn't there and check it down to the RB. He tries to create a huge play and this throw might be on but it comes out funny (wind likely played a factor) and ends up a terrible INT pic.twitter.com/PbYWYIO7n3— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
I saw some people complain online about the Eagles throwing deep too much in the wind and whilst I get it, I just think this is what the offense is! I don’t think you can moan when plays like this don’t work and then celebrate all the big plays later on in the game. When a team plays MOFC (single-high) against this Eagles team, Hurts wants to throw it down the field to AJ Brown and it has led to so many explosive plays this season. I will always take an aggressive quarterback over a passive one who always checks it down.
#4 The Bears played a lot of MOFC and the Eagles took their one-on-one matchups all day long. I know it's a lower % play and when it doesn't work it's frustrating, but the Eagles have elite talent and I like the aggression. Big plays are a major part of being an elite offense. pic.twitter.com/poErBLm5rH— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
This was probably my favorite play of the day. I love the design and use of formation/personnel to get the Bears to show that they are in zone coverage pre-snap and the Hi-Lo design makes it really difficult for the linebackers to take away the throw to DeVonta Smith. It’s a fantastic throw by Hurts too into the middle of the field. Remember when he couldn’t throw to the middle of the field? Me neither!
#5 Love this design. Empty w/ Smith inside shows obvious zone pre-snap. Hi-Lo concept and Hurts throws perfectly into the middle of the field with great anticipation and timing. Really good throw and really tough to stop this without elite linebackers. Great catch and YAC too. pic.twitter.com/lJYpwQDcNW— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
The Eagles RPO game makes opposing linebackers look stupid every week. This play is so hard to defend. The Bears' linebackers were desperate to stop the run all game and the second they see Kelce pull, they think it’s a run play and vacate a huge zone in the middle of the field. I love this.
#6 'Run it more' - sometimes they did but the Bears were all over the running backs. Watch the Bears linebackers react to Kelce pulling, it creates a huge space inside for AJ Brown. The Eagles RPO game puts linebackers in a bind every single week and it's beautiful. pic.twitter.com/MBicqvB1xI— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
Steichen and Hurts clearly didn’t care about the wind because they ran 4 verts a lot in this game, especially near the Red Zone. It didn’t work here but it probably would have if Hurts throws a slightly better ball. As I have repeatedly said, I will not complain about the Eagles being aggressive throwing downfield because they have special talent on the outside.
#7 Eagles loved running 4 verts near the Red Zone. It worked later and it probably should here but Hurts needs to put a bit more touch on this ball and throw it to the back pylon. It's a good play by the DB too. I have to be consistent and I love the aggression throwing downfield pic.twitter.com/inq6HWv7nK— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
Watching live, this looked like a horrible interception from Hurts. The more I watch this play, the more I am convinced it is on Quez Watkins. I am not in the meetings so I cannot be certain, but I think this is a terrible route that leads to the pick. The Eagles motion to 4x1 which shows clear man coverage pre-snap. Quez has a giant space to run into but drifts upfield and doesn’t get his head turned around at all. Again, I cannot be certain, but I think he needs to cross the face of the defender and run across the field rather than get upfield. Looking at the design of this play and the huge open space, I am almost certain the Eagles would want Quez to run this differently. If he runs a proper route, then I think Hurts makes the correct read based on the pre-snap look.
#8 I'm not in the WR room, but I'm convinced this is on Quez and not Hurts. The motion to 4x1 concept shows man and Quez should be open on the deep over with loads of space to run into. He drifts way too far upfield and doesn't get his head around. I think this is a bad route. pic.twitter.com/Yh3P2FwsA9— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
DeVonta Smith is becoming a slot fade master. The Eagles don’t just throw vertical shots to AJ Brown outside the numbers against MOFC, they can also throw it to DeVonta Smith too! This is becoming the Eagles' go-to cover 1 beater.
#9 Clear MOFC and man coverage indicators so the Eagles go to the slot fade which they love. DeVonta Smith is becoming a master at this route. Big time throw and catch. Again, I like being aggressive downfield against defenses who are +1 in the box. This is why they threw a lot. pic.twitter.com/Hkqa6HaDDC— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
If you moaned about the Eagles running 4 verts earlier on because it was ‘too aggressive’ considering the weather, then I guess you disagree with this call too! Hurts and AJ Brown are elite at these vertical throws. Everything is perfect about this and it’s so difficult to stop. The Bears wanted to be +1 in the box and stop the run (which probably made sense considering the weather) so the Eagles just continued to throw it downfield. This is a beauty.
#11 4 Verts near the Red Zone again against clear MOFC. It's a perfect throw and perfect route by AJ Brown who creates space for the ball to be delivered. Hurts and Brown are just really good at this. Check the late hands by Brown too. He's so good. pic.twitter.com/xhLeS4VJci— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
Hurts made a couple of brilliant throws outside the numbers on a deep out to AJ Brown and this comeback throw to DeVonta Smith in the 4th quarter. If this is Hurts ‘bad’ game, then my goodness he is good. I thought he played really well after the first few drives and he adjusted to the conditions. His development from the pocket is not a short-term thing or just a fluke, he’s just a really good quarterback.
#12 Hurts threw the ball really well in the second half. As always, he rarely lets his mistakes impact him and he made some outstanding timing and anticipation throws outside the numbers. Great route and catch by DeVonta too. If this is a Hurts 'bad' game then... pic.twitter.com/EZunCIgw2Z— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
This play sums up the Eagles’ offense more than any other. There is a nice little design with Gainwell coming open on a shallow crossing route but Hurts just doesn’t even think about it and launches it down the field for a huge play in the game. It’s another outstanding throw and catch. If this falls incomplete, I know people would complain that Hurts should have taken the easy throw and not thrown this football downfield. I would not have been one of those people. Give me the aggressive quarterback all day long because big plays win games and make elite offenses.
#14 The Eagles run a nice little shallow cross with Gainwell coming open but Hurts does not care. If you play MOFC, Hurts is going down the field to AJ Brown whatever the weather. The passing game is SO explosive and whilst I get some frustration, I still love it. What a play. pic.twitter.com/3TtM0VZsWt— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
Before we look at some clips, let’s talk schematics. The Eagles do a LOT in the run game. We see some under center, pistol, RPO, zone, gap, etc. Every week they do a different thing which is one of the great things about this offense. The Eagles decided this week to not run many direct runs without a QB read (very few under center or pistol runs) and this meant Hurts kept the ball a lot. He took way too many hits and I am almost certain the Eagles regret the number of times Hurts carried the ball and hopefully they have learned a lesson. The problem is that Hurts is such a good runner it must be tempting to utilize him all of the time but, the Eagles need to wait until the playoffs before they can really unleash him.
The problem was evident in the 1st and 2nd plays of the game. The Bears decided they were going to have the edge defender take the running back and then scrape a linebacker behind him to tackle Hurts. This is a very common strategy so it’s nothing new. The difference is the Bears did it over and over again and clearly wanted to hit Hurts frequently. The coaching staff was calling running plays, but Hurts was always keeping them and getting hit. I would have liked to see some of these plays have a 3rd read (bubble screen or slant) attached to them so Hurts has the ability to get rid of it, rather than continually getting hit over and over again.
Eagles Offense all22 vs. Bears. #1 Bears gameplan was obvious from the 1st 2 plays of the game. The edge defender always followed the RB and they would run a scrape exchange with the LB becoming the edge. It didn't always work but it meant Hurts carried it and got hit, a lot. pic.twitter.com/NzZ6w81t5L— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
No further analysis is needed here, this play is just hilarious.
#10 This play is just hilarious. No analysis needed. Clearly either the DT or safety take the wrong gap and the safety just sends the DT flying and leaves one gap wide open. This is terrible defense and highlights how 1 error at this level can totally ruin a play. pic.twitter.com/I5Gtj91QZj— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022
After Hurts' injury, the Eagles did run some more ‘traditional’ runs where Hurts just handed it off. The Eagles’ offensive line is so good that the Eagles should not be afraid to run some standard hand-offs. I hope the coaching staff now realizes this because Hurts can’t take this many hits in a game again.
#13 Ironically, the best run came from a 'traditional' under center run with no read for Hurts to make at the LOS. This OL is so good the Eagles do not need to rely on Hurts as a runner to have an effective run game all the time and I hope they have learned the lesson. pic.twitter.com/TgGdeBOSyA— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 21, 2022