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Eagles Defense All-22 Film Review: Takeaways from the win over the Titans

NFL: DEC 04 Titans at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In the review of the Eagles' offense, I said this was about as dominant a performance as you will see against a good defense. Well, this defensive performance was pretty incredible too.

Eagles Defense

The EPA per-play numbers are dominant. The 19% early rush success rate is absurd. Going into this game, the Titans' EPA was -0.004 which is bad, but -0.21 is horrendous. To put this into context, the worst offense in the league (Texans) has an EPA per play of -0.14 and a success rate of 38.5%. The Titans' numbers today were significantly worse than the Texans'. That is a pretty remarkable defensive performance from the Eagles.

Pass Defense

The Eagles' secondary and pass rush was once again lights out today. The pass rush on 3rd down was dominant. The very first 3rd down of the game on 3rd and 4 was a fantastic job by the Eagles' secondary and the pass rush. Bradberry looks up his guy in single-coverage and the Eagles' zone coverage is outstanding as it usually is at the top of the screen. The Eagles are so good at passing off routes and it’s just such a well-coached secondary. The Eagles 4 of Reddick-Hargrave-Cox-Sweat is an elite pass-rushing defensive line. The Titans decided to chip Sweat and double Cox on this play... so guess what? Hargrave and Reddick win their one-on-one matchups! The Eagles on offense and defense are simply too talented and continue to win their one-on-one matchups.

The biggest plays that the Titans had were not caused by poor coaching or structural issues with the defense, they were largely from out-of-structure plays which will happen to every team in the NFL. Ryan Tannehill's scrambles were absolutely the Titans' best plays in this game. The coverage was really good throughout the game and Tannehill only picked up the 1st down here on 4th down by relying on his legs.

I don’t want to criticize him too much because I think Treylon Burks is awesome (my WR1 pre-draft), but as I mentioned last week, Josiah Scott continues to be the weak link of this defense. There were a couple of occasions where he was beaten in coverage. However, I think blaming him for this touchdown is harsh. On the all22 you can clearly see Epps is supposed to be playing single-high but he gets moved by Tannehill’s eyes which means Scott doesn’t get the help he is expecting from the safety. Scott still gets beat but Epps deserves blame here too.

I know we talk about the cornerbacks every week, but how good has James Bradberry been this season? He basically runs the comeback route here against Robert Woods. This is perfection.

I think it’s been quite clear the past few weeks that Fletcher Cox has been playing better since he started playing fewer snaps. I believe he said in an interview that he’s no longer injured too, and that will help. This play reminds you that he is still a very good athlete as Tannehill is no slouch outside the pocket. The pass coverage as always is fantastic and they rotate from a 2-high look into a 3-deep look with a MOFC (defender in the middle of the field) look. This is why Gannon wants to stay in a 2-high shell, it is so much easier to disguise your coverage than it is from a single-high approach.

The Titans' biggest play of the game came on this 41-yard pass. Once again, it wasn’t poor structurally or anything, it was just a really poor play by Marcus Epps who has had a really good year overall. The Eagles' defense rarely gives up big plays and we know that Jonathan Gannon’s system has been really effective at stopping big plays.

However, the big play didn’t lead to a touchdown due to a massive sack from Josh Sweat on 3rd and 6. Once again, the Eagles' zone coverage is fantastic and by only rushing 4 they end up +1 in coverage on both sides of the field which is exactly what they want (apologies - I was supposed to film the other angle here so you could see the coverage). This is a really, really impressive rush from Sweat too and I haven’t seen him bend the edge this well that often. He is a top-tier athlete and he’s having a very good year. I may be overreacting but I feel like this was one of the best, if not the best, games of Sweat’s career.

I watched Reed Blankenship pretty closely and I thought he played well. This was one of his best games of the game, coming down from the safety position to cause an incompletion. I go on about this weekly but I am so impressed by the Eagles' defensive coaches, especially in the secondary. Everyone who plays seems to get better and you rarely see any coverage busts or players who look clueless out there. I think the coaches deserve fantastic coverage.

On the first drive after halftime, the Eagles get the Titans into 3rd and 8 and the pass rush just destroyed the Titans' offensive line. This is an absolutely ridiculous play. The Eagles' front 4 on passing downs just dominated the Titans' offensive line. If Cox is back to playing at a high level, this combination of 4 pass rushers is pretty elite.

The next drive also ended up with a key sack on 2nd and 8 from Brandon Graham. The Titans didn’t even bother trying to run on the Eagles' 4-man fronts on 2nd down in the second half which really surprised me. Suh does a great job forcing Tannehill to step up and Graham just absolutely blows up the tight end who is coming across the formation in order to attempt to block him. You would think teams would realize that blocking Graham with a tight end probably won’t work but, I am glad the Titans thought it would! Of course, the coverage on the backend is perfect against a shot play too, because this defense is fantastic at not giving up these big plays.

Watching this pass rush against this Titans offensive line was pretty hilarious. This play is nuts. Just watch the get-off from Sweat and Reddick. This is one of my favorite plays from the season so far.

Run Defense

As good as the Eagles' pass defense was, this performance was built on the success of the run defense. The Eagles were really good on 1st down with their 5-man fronts, but they were also pretty good in their 4-man fronts on 2nd down which surprised me! I said last week that the Eagles' secondary was really poor against the run and I felt that Slay and Bradberry would probably get an earful from the coaches. I am not saying that I was right, but the secondary was significantly better against the run in this game. The game began with 2 runs for 6 yards and they set the scene for the rest of the game. The signing of Linval Joseph just seems better and better each week.

If you’ve read this piece over the past few weeks, you will know that teams have been running at the Eagles with 3 WRs to one side of the field in order to force one of the Eagles' cornerbacks to fit the run. The Titans tried this too, but it didn’t work this week.

The Eagles accepted in this game that they need to live in their 5 man fronts on early downs in order to stop the run and it worked perfectly. It wasn’t just the cornerbacks who helped against the run in this game either. I thought overall this was a different mindset from the Eagles than we have seen in the past. They seemed fed up with giving up 4-5 YPC in previous weeks and seemed determined to completely shut down the Titans' running game and force them into 2nd/3rd and long. The plan worked!

The Titans came out on the first play of the second half with a run. I imagine they spent all of half-time talking about getting the running game going. The Eagles shut it down immediately and look at the role of Darius Slay! TJ Edwards and Cox also contribute hugely to this play.

On the next drive, they tried to establish the run again on 1st down and it resulted in another 2-yard gain. The Titans tried to get the running game going but just could not get any yards on 1st down. All the sacks I highlighted earlier were possible because of how good the run defense was early on.

Nakobe Dean

I’m not even going to start shouting that Dean needs to start because I think Edwards and White have had a good year. But how can we not finish this piece by looking at some of Nakobe Dean’s snaps?! Some of them were in garbage time but who cares, we have to take a look. I did see one play in the run game where Dean couldn't get off his block in the run games and I would assume this is a big part of why he isn’t playing. Despite this, I think we need to see some more of him out there. He can at least be rotated in at times. Because not many linebackers can do this...

There are not many guys with that speed and quickness who can make a play like this in the backfield. This is a phenomenal play.

You can also see the speed that he has to get sideline to sideline in pass coverage. There’s nothing fancy about this play but he does a good job avoiding the receiver (who I think commits offensive PI) and then getting out to make a tackle in space.

What a fun game. What a win. The Eagles are 11-1 and this game was a joy to watch.

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