Wow. This was an elite performance by the Eagles. I texted a friend of mine in the first half saying “we will probably lose this game now I’ve said this, but we are clearly so much better than the Titans.” Tennessee was 7-4 coming into this game! This was fun!
Let’s start as we do now by looking at the EPA numbers. If you don’t understand EPA (it can be confusing), this tweet might help explain how dominant this performance was.
Tua is #1 in EPA per play this year with 0.4. Josh Allen is #1 in success rate with 54.6%. Hurts had 0.51 EPA per play today and a success rate of 58%. Phew.— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 4, 2022
Basically, this was about as good an offensive performance as you will see all season. The only negative was the early down rush game but... they didn’t really need to use it! I still think they could have run the ball if they had also committed to it. This is dominant.
This was a proper passback game. Hurts was reading the game like a savvy veteran quarterback. I said this on the BGN Instant Reaction show, but if Hurts had an injury and couldn’t move the same, he would still be a good quarterback. This was his best game from the pocket of his career so far. The Eagles ran quite a few concepts but it was a matchup-based attack that focused on the fact that the Eagles are simply more talented than the Titans.
I am guilty of focusing too much on AJ Brown at times because he’s the best wide receiver I’ve had the pleasure of watching in an Eagles uniform (I wasn’t watching this sport in 2004 so I’m not saying he’s better than Terrell Owens!) but DeVonta Smith had himself a day in this one. He is a legitimate number 1 wide receiver and his route running was exceptional in this game. He understands the nuances of route running and is so smooth coming in and out of his breaks. This first 3rd down of the game on 3rd and 8 is fantastic. The concept is great too, the Eagles run mesh which is normally paired with a deep in to create a sort of hi-lo read in the middle of the field, but Smith breaks to the outside instead. You can see the cornerback move his hips to the inside as he’s expecting a deep in.
Eagles all22 thread vs Titans. DeVonta Smith is playing so so well at the moment. Love this design with the mesh + an out when the CB expects a deep dig which you normally see behind mesh. The Eagles passing game was fantastic all day. pic.twitter.com/Pa8cvR3KZW— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
This was very nearly the best throw of Hurts’ career. The Eagles get caught out with a slot corner blitz and Hurts is under pressure immediately. Pre-snap, he knows Quez Watkins will come open on the post-cross concept but look at the anticipation that Hurts throws with here! When he releases this ball, Watkins is nowhere near open but he has to throw it really early. I’m gutted this throw didn’t come off because the anticipation Hurts throws with here is exceptional.
I'm so sad this wasn't complete because it would have been one of Hurts best throws of his career. Look at the anticipation he throws this ball with! It's a standard 2 man post cross but the CB blitz means Hurts has a free rusher in his face but he throws it really early. pic.twitter.com/JnQMhI02th— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
The first TD was a thing of beauty. The Eagles know (as you would too if you read the stats preview!) that the Titans run a lot of 2-high and we lot a lot of quarters-beaters in this game. The Eagles start by motioning the back to the right which essentially guarantees Smith will be one-on-one because they are in a 4x1 set. The Eagles run a drive concept with a shallow route and an intermediate route. The deep safety in cover 4 takes the intermediate crossing route and Hurts reads it out perfectly and hits Smith on a backside post. The throw isn’t perfect but the procession and diagnosis of the coverage are perfect. Smith easily beats the cornerback who gets turned around far too easily by Smith. Side note: look at the pass protection but focus on the Titans' pass rushers. They are just playing contain as they are terrified of Hurts escaping the pocket.
Then the TD. Motion to 4x1 which the Eagles did a lot in this game. Safety takes the deep over route on the drive concept and Smith wins his one-on-one matchup easily. The Titans aren't even rushing Hurts which is hilarious. Super gameplanning against a 2-high defense! pic.twitter.com/U36NatWeXm— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
Jack Stoll also made a couple of lovely plays! This was a big play before the AJ Brown touchdown on 2nd and 15. Once again, the Titans' pass rush isn’t even trying, and Hurts read it perfectly and throws on time over the middle of the field. Hurts was very decisive with the ball in this game and seemed to read the Titans' coverage easily.
Hurts read the defense so quickly in this game seemed to know exactly where to go with the ball at all times. It was just a top QB performance from the pocket. His accuracy was strong for the most part too! pic.twitter.com/zE4G5DEWHv— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
Then we get to the near touchdown and the actual touchdown. AJ Brown is a superstar. The first one was a blitz from the Titans and the Eagles' offensive line pick it up perfectly. This is outstanding blitz pickup and pass protection. The blitz means the Titans have 6 in coverage against 5 receiving options and the play man coverage, which guarantees single-high coverage. What does Hurts love to do against single-high man coverage... throw it to AJ Brown! The ball is slightly wide (being very nitpicky here) and AJ Brown’s big toe hitting the line prevents it from being a fantastic touchdown.
Titans were 32nd in blitz rate entering this game but they blitzed a few times and the Eagles killed them when they did. Eagles blitz pickup is perfect and when Hurts sees single-high, he's letting it fly to AJB! This is so nearly a perfect TD. pic.twitter.com/nLyQu0zXav— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
In the very next play, we get an actual touchdown to AJ Brown. This play is similar in some ways to the first touchdown to Smith. The Eagles line up with AJ Brown as the only receiver to the left side of the field. The Eagles run the tight end down the seam which means the weakside safety has to come up in quarters and this leaves AJ Brown with one-on-one coverage, just as Smith was on the first touchdown! Once again, the Eagles receiver wins his matchup and it’s an easy touchdown. The Eagles are just extremely talented. There’s nothing fancy about this, it’s just good coaching by putting your elite players in chances to win. Remember... players dictate the scheme. The coaching staff is doing a hell of a job.
Once again, fantastic gameplanning to give your best player a good matchup. Eagles have a stack to the right and the TE's route keeps the safety to AJ Brown's side occupied. This leaves your best player with a huge amount of free space and he's not losing this matchup! pic.twitter.com/lWdSkpScBn— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
I know that none of us like check-downs, but the speed by which a quarterback checks the ball down can tell you a lot about how quickly they are processing and eliminating what isn’t there. Hurts was more than willing to take a lot of check downs in this game when he realized the Titans were playing soft and were going to take away the deeper routes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this! It’s good quarterback play and I thought Hurts checked it down really well in this game.
Hurts was really quick to checkdown in this game but he always made smart decisions. Being able to eliminate what isn't there and get off that read quickly is important. Hurts realizes the comebacks won't come open and checks it down quickly. Lovely play by Gainwell too! pic.twitter.com/7Qb2VPlp8m— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
The Eagles opened the second half with 4 passes that went like this... 9-yard completion, 5-yard completion, 7-yard completion, and a 29-yard touchdown to AJ Brown. Not bad. The touchdown was another fantastic blitz pickup by the Eagles, especially as the Titans tried to disguised this blitz and it looks like zone coverage pre-snap. The Titans send 6 and the Eagles pick up all 6 with the help of Miles Sanders perfectly. The Titans linebacker green dog blitzes when he sees Sanders blocking which means the Eagles have 4 receivers that are all one-on-one. I’m pretty sure AJ Brown is just running a clearout here and probably isn’t even part of the progression but Hurts just gives his guy a chance and AJ Brown makes a fantastic contested catch. Hurts should probably throw it to Smith but at this point, who cares. Once again... players > scheme!
Titans show zone and blitz again. Eagles pick it up perfectly again! Sanders with a great blitz pickup and the Titans LB then green dog blitzes. Eagles have one-on-one everywhere and Hurts probably should go to Smith but when AJ Brown can do this then why not just chuck it up. pic.twitter.com/aLd0HdPdMC— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
If you read my pregame stats preview, you will know the Titans blitz at the 32nd-highest rate, they never blitz. The fact they blitzed on two of the Eagles' touchdowns shows you they were frustrating and trying anything to stop this offense.
Finally, there’s nothing special about this particular play, but it highlights to me why this offense is so hard to stop. When you have great players, as a coach you need to give them opportunities to win. The 4x1 set from empty forces the Titans to line up 4 on one side of the formation, which basically guarantees you are going to get AJ Brown one-on-one. It’s very easy but so effective. This formation is a disaster for defenses because you are guaranteed to get either single coverage on DeVonta Smith, single coverage on AJ Brown, or a very light box where Hurts can simply take off and run.
Spoke about this play on the BGN instant reaction show but it's so easy but so effective. 4x1, Titans have to play 4on4 and leave 5 in the box so you pretty much guarantee a one-on-one with AJ Brown. It's easy money and taking advantage of having elite players. pic.twitter.com/i95jnHcvEu— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
We don’t need to focus on the negatives in this game because there wasn’t many. Hurts has struggled in his career with fumbles from the pocket and we did see one bad rep by him but overall this year, he is doing a fantastic job of taking care of the football. This was a rare mistake by him and I think he should have gone to Smith on the short curl route.
Pretty much the only bad play from Hurts all game. He hasn't done this much but fumbling from the pocket has been a previous issue. He can probably hit Smith here but bails a bit too early and gets caught out. pic.twitter.com/EnN1oBe9P5— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
Well, there isn’t much to talk about here! But a couple of runs stood out.
I loved the touchdown run by Hurts. It’s simple but running Hurts in the red zone is so effective. In general, when the field gets condensed, being able to run the ball in the red zone is really important and the Eagles seem to be good at this every single week. It’s an excellent sign for this team moving forward. The Eagles just run a simple zone run but as the quarterback is the ball carrier, you can use the running back as an extra blocker to seal the edge. Still, Jason Kelce actually can’t get to the second level quick enough and Titans 56 has a free run at this play and reads it perfectly. But he still can’t make the tackle because Hurts is just simply faster than he is! As I will keep repeating... the Eagles are just simply better than the opposition. The Titans 31 also sheds his block quickly but it doesn’t matter! This is just so hard to stop.
I love this play too. The Titans play it well! 56 avoids the block completely and reads it well but Hurts is just too fast. Eagles run game in the redzone is outstanding. pic.twitter.com/9szrdpFcHX— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
I mentioned the 4x1 set earlier, the very next play after the throw to AJ Brown the Eagles run the same look but this time they run Hurts. If it’s not for a holding penalty it’s another first down. As I said earlier, formations like these are so difficult for a defense to stop as you cannot have the numbers advantage everywhere and the Eagles will find the weakness and take advantage of it. It’s great coaching and Hurts mobility is absolutely vital and it makes the Eagles so dangerous out of empty.
Very next play, just run it! Easy first down without a penalty. As a defense you don't have the numbers to double AJ Brown, have extra men on the 4 WR side or be 6v5 in the box. Hurts as a runner just gives you another player number which is why I love these 4x1 from empty sets. pic.twitter.com/QqBdHrskvX— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 6, 2022
Overall, this was an incredibly clean offensive performance (minus the penalties) and the best game of Hurts' career in my opinion. This team is full of stars and they are playing extremely good football. Football is very fun right now.