Hello again Eagles fans! Another week, another stats preview. I think last week’s article shined a light onto the Lions crazy blitz packages that we saw in the game on Sunday. This article will focus on breaking down the Eagles offense vs. the Vikings defense. Full disclaimer, all these stats are based off of just one week (so some things may have been opponent specific) but I still think they will provide a decent preview of what is to come. All stats are from Sports Info Solutions.
I think the stats point to quite a specific game plan, so let’s get into.
Bad news, the Vikings pass defense looked outstanding on Sunday. Good news, the Eagles passing game looked reasonably good!
Firstly, what were the Eagles tendencies this past week? Similar to last year, it involved a shotgun based passing attack with little motion but a bit more play-action!
We will come back to these numbers throughout the article, but it’s also worth looking at the Eagles personnel. Unsurprisingly, we did see some 12 personnel with Jack Stoll playing a reasonable amount.
Last week, we saw Jalen Hurts scrambling take advantage of the Lions man heavy defense and we also saw AJ Brown dominate man coverage. Don’t expect that to happen again, at all. The Vikings could not be more different in how they played defense past week, just look at these numbers.
That’s a perfect 50/50 split of MOFC (middle of the field closed) and MOFO (middle of the field open) but a serious dose of zone coverage. There is way Hurts will have the success scrambling from the pocket as he did this week as the Vikings defenders will have eyes on him for nearly all of the time. This is going to be a massive challenge for Hurts, as I always feel mobile quarterbacks prefer man coverage because they can pick up chunk yards on the floor a lot easier.
Don’t expect the blitz
Another way you will see a very different game this week is I expect the Vikings to blitz a lot less than the Lions. The Lions are one of the most blitz heavy teams on 1st and 3rd down, the Vikings were the opposite this past week. I imagine this is partly because they faced Aaron Rodgers but still, they did not blitz.
Although the Eagles offense struggled to pass against the blitz this week (Hurts went 8/16 for 77 yards throwing against the blitz), they did have a lot of success with Hurts scrambling out the pocket. I do not expect this to happen as much this week. The Vikings are going to make Hurts hold the ball in the pocket and deal with 7 men in coverage which is going to present Hurts with a huge challenge.
The Vikings still managed to get a lot of pressure this week, despite only sending 4 men, as these numbers highlight.
- 4 sacks (6th highest)
- 15 pressures (15th)
3rd down is a concern
I spoke last week about being worried about Hurts and this offense as a passer on 3rd & 7+ moments, and I think I was proved correct but Hurts bailed the Eagles out with his mobility. As mentioned already, I don’t think this will be as easy this week, and the Eagles absolutely do not want to end up in 3rd & 7+ because Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense had no answer for this defense. This is what the Vikings did on 3rd and 7+. The personnel upfront was extremely multiple and the Packers couldn’t predict who was blitzing.
They also ran a heavy, heavy dose of zone coverage with a 4 man rush, which means the Vikings had a lot of defenders bracketing the Packers receivers and outnumbering them.
On 3rd and 7+, the Vikings allowed 1 reception for 6 yards and no 1st downs throughout the game. The Packers also went 0 for 1 on 4th down. The Packers really struggled on 3rd and medium/long and although the Eagles have far better receiving talent, this is pretty worrying considering they have Aaron Rodgers. Just like the Eagles defense, the Vikings defense is made for these 3rd and long situations where they are really, really hard to throw against.
But, don’t give up hope just yet...
This is where the Eagles can win this game. I truly believe they have a great matchup in the running game and really need to start with this in order to force the Vikings to change their game plan. The Packers ran the ball really effectively but fell behind early and started to throw it too much.
As we looked at earlier, the Eagles are not afraid of running the ball out of 12 personnel with Jack Stoll. When the Packers went 12 personnel, the Vikings put 7 men in the box but refused to bring an extra defensive back into the box and stayed in a 2-high shell (sound familiar?).
Now if you do the math, a 12 personnel offense vs a 7 man box with a 2-high shell will have 7 blockers vs. 7 defenders. Here’s where the Eagles have a huge advantage over the Packers (and why the Packers might go with more one-high shells) - they have a mobile quarterback! If you go 7on7 in the box and you have a mobile quarterback and can therefore leave a defender unblocked in the box with the read option, you can basically outnumber the defense.
Oh and by the way, the Packers ran all over the Vikings from 12 personnel, gaining 49 yards on only 6 carries. They just didn’t run it enough when they fell behind.
This links to the passing game, if the Eagles can go 12 personnel and run effectively early and force the Vikings into a single-high defense... then it’s time to go play-action and throw it down the field to AJ Brown! I would love the Eagles to come out in 12 personnel early and see what the Vikings do.
11 Personnel + Shotgun
So, I just said run it from 12 personnel and now I’m going to talk about 11 personnel. Guess what? You can do both! The Vikings couldn’t stop the run from 11 personnel either. They allowed 67 yards on 9 carries. A big reason is because they played two-high shells which meant a light box. With less than 7 men in the box this past week, the Vikings gave up 82 yards on 11 carries and 5(!) first downs.
I know Aaron Rodgers is an elite quarterback, but the Packers run game is exceptional but the Vikings really wanted to stay in a 2-high structure and were not worried about having light boxes in the run game. This is something the Eagles must take advantage of. Go 11 personnel, spread the receivers out, and run the ball from the shotgun.
The Eagles were outstanding on shotgun runs this week, using Hurts as a huge part of the run game with a lot of read option. The Vikings gave up 86 yards on 10 carries when the Packers were in the shotgun but they shut down the run from under center, giving up 25 yards on 8 carries.
1st Down Runs
This week, on 1st down, the Vikings remained in these 2-high shells with light boxes.
How did that work out? On 1st down runs vs. the Packers, the Vikings gave up 46 yards on 9 attempts and 2 1st downs. The Eagles on 1st down vs. the Lions went for 106 yards on 18 carries. As well as this, the Eagles went for 84 yards on 12 carries a touchdown on RPO/Read option runs. This should absolutely be the way to attack the Vikings, especially if they keep playing light boxes
To the left...
Final one for now, but when looking at the Vikings numbers it seemed they had a weakness on runs to the left. They gave up 79 yards on 7 carries to any runs to the left of the center, and 33 yards on 10 carries to runs to the right of the center. Jordan Mailata and Landon Dickerson may have a big part to play...
The Vikings had an exceptional Week 1 performance, giving up only 7 points to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. They did not play well against the run though and if they want to live in these modern 2-high shells with light boxes, this might be the week for the Eagles to really commit to the run early on and force them to put an extra defensive back in the box.
I really don’t want to see Hurts drop back frequently (especially on 3rd and long) against this Vikings pass defense as I think it could be a tough day for the Eagles quarterback throwing the ball. But, I expect him to have success running and I think the Eagles should be able to get some points in this one!