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Eagles defense vs. Commanders offense preview by the numbers

Washington Commanders v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It’s Carson Wentz time! The Washington offense has actually been pretty good so far so this could be a tough one. As always, all stats from Sports Info Solutions!

Let’s begin with the Eagles tendencies on defense, then some Washington basic stats and then we will get into some matchups to watch.

The Eagles remain a nickel defense and have barely played any base the first 2 weeks of the season.

The Eagles played far more single-high last week and their numbers now look pretty varied! They still play a light box but I am glad to see more varied coverage on the back end.

And finally, who is this Jonathan Gannon?! 14th highest blitz rate? 11th highest man coverage rate?! With this group of cornerbacks, it makes a lot of sense to play more man coverage and bring some pressure so I am glad to see these numbers.

Now let’s turn our attention to the Washington offense. These are the basic numbers...

- 27.5 points per game (8th).

- 5.5 yards per play (10th).

- 3.5 yards per rush (27th).

- 7.5 yards per throw (9th).

- 2 giveaways per game (7th highest).

Passing Game

Watch the screen

Washington have used a lot of screen passes this year and they have been successful with them. Wentz is 9/12 for 70 yards (4th highest) but he also some has an interception (classic Wentz).

The Eagles have been fine against screen passes, giving up 5 catches on 8 attempts for 48 yards (18th highest). However, the Eagles brought more pressure on 3rd down this past week and they could see a few screens from Washington to try and take advantage of this. Washington really like running screens on 3rd down and medium long (7+ yards) so keep an eye on this.

I’m not sure Washington want Wentz dropping back on 3rd down and I don’t blame them. The screens have been quite successful though, Wentz is 3/3 for 23 yards.

11 Personnel

Washington don’t mix up their personnel much, they pretty much stay in 11 personnel except for 1st down and short yardage situations.

Washington have some excellent weapons though and Wentz has been really successful throwing from 11 personnel. He has the most yards in the league with 552 on 49 completions (66%) and has 7 TDs and 2 INTs. The Eagles have faced two teams who have played a lot of 11 personnel too, and they have given up 43 completions on 75 attempts, for 405 yards, 3 TDs and 4 INTS. That’s pretty good!


As well as screen passes, Washington runs a lot of play-action and RPOs.

Despite running a lot of play-action, Wentz hasn’t been too successful with it. Wentz has 31 passes on play-action (2nd highest) and 18 completions (3rd highest) but only 159 yards. That means he averages just over 5 yards per attempt on play-action, whereas without play-action he averages 8.7 yards per attempt. That seems a pretty big difference. I wonder if Washington have looked at this and will considering running less play-action with Wentz, unless it is something they really want to improve.

The Eagles haven’t faced a huge amount of play-action this year. They have allowed 10 receptions on 15 attempts for 92 yards (22nd highest) and 1 TD. Based on this, you might expect Washington to run a bit less play-action this week but it is obviously a philosophy they have stuck with for 2 weeks, so lets see what happens.

On the RPO front, Wentz and the Washington offense has been pretty good when throwing out of this look. So watch out for play-action and RPOs this weekend.

Time to pressure Wentz

We all know what Wentz can do under pressure. His numbers when pressured this year are 14/25 for 124 yards with 0 TDs or INTs. That’s a completion percentage of 56% and 4.96 yards per attempt. That’s... not good. The Eagles currently rank 13 with pressures, so I expect them to be able to get to Wentz.

Do they need to blitz? I would say, be careful. Wentz has actually been hot against 5 or more rushers so far this season. He’s 15/26 for 182 yards (4th highest) and 2 TD’s no 0 INT. In fact, when you look at all of his throws with 5+ rushers this year, there’s a lot of really good ones in there.

You absolutely want to pressure Wentz, but rushing 4 may be a safer bet. In some ways, Wentz makes mistakes when he sits in the pocket so the Eagles could use this to their advantage.

Running Game

Washington can’t run

Let’s just keep this simple. The Washington running game has been awful so far. 49 carries, for 173 yards (2.8 yards per carry) and their running backs have only broken 2 tackles all season.

The Eagles run defense looks better after this past week. They now rank 14th in yards allowed on the ground but it has only been one week and I am certainly not convinced by their run defense just yet.

Washington desperately wants to get the running game going, they have had 28 carries on 1st down (12th highest) but only 112 yards (20th highest) which means a pretty terrible 2.5 yards per carry.

Even against a light box (6 men or less), Washington are 20 carries for 69 yards. Yikes.

I searched through a lot of data to try and find something interesting to write about here... I couldn’t! They just haven’t been able to run.

The only thing I could find is from 12 personnel, they have 9 carries for 35 yards. Which isn’t that bad. I guess.

Overall, unless something changes or the Eagles revert back to week 1 form, expect Washington to end up throwing the ball a lot and putting the game on a back of Wentz.

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