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Eagles Offense All-22 Film Review: Takeaways from the loss to the Saints

New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Well, this wasn’t a fun offensive game to watch. I’ve been very complimentary of the Eagles’ offense this year but this game plan had a few obvious issues. The good news is that most of these issues should go away with Jalen Hurts, but it is still worth talking about. This Saints game was important, and it was a bad loss.

Eagles Offense

The EPA data this week backs up what you probably thought - the offense was bad! The run data looks really poor which is surprising, but it’s because of Gardner Minshew’s failed QB sneak which had a huge impact on EPA and win % as it happened on 4th and 1. Minshew also had a failed rush on 3rd and short earlier on in the game. Sanders had a positive rush EPA overall.

Passing Offense

The Eagles went empty a lot in this game and I did not understand why they kept doing it. It barely ever worked and Minshew was no threat to run at all, which is what made empty so successful with Hurts at quarterback. When Hurts is playing, defenses have to respect the run still so they will often play only 1 deep safety and a linebacker will have to keep a close eye on Hurts. With Minshew at quarterback, the defense knew it was going to be a pass every time so the defense could play loads of split-field coverages where every defender was focused on Minshew. I just don’t think it worked and I’m shocked they kept doing it.

Another thing the coaching staff did was run these RPOs in short yardage like Jalen Hurts was at quarterback. This is a terrible play call for a quarterback like Minshew on 3rd and short because if nothing is open, he has to beat Cam Jordan in the open field! Hurts may be able to do this, but Minshew cannot. Just run the ball in this situation and don’t get too fancy without your star quarterback.

The Saints played a ton of man coverage in this game as Minshew was no threat to escape the pocket. I do not think they would have played as much man with Hurts in the lineup, as playing man against a very mobile quarterback is very risky. The Eagles ran some good concepts against man coverage, but Minshew was just too slow to release it. There were not many receivers ‘wide open’ but he had chances to release it. Here he has AJ Brown coming across on a drag route and he can dump it off to him rather than take the sack. Minshew was slow to process and held the ball for too long early on.

Sirianni took the blame for Minshew’s interception later in the game, saying he called the same play earlier. That is the best example of a coach taking the blame for something that is not their fault I have ever seen. The quote is nonsense. This is the play Sirianni was talking about. It worked earlier because AJ Brown was one-on-one and was going against press coverage, so the slant was an easy throw. We will get to the interception later...

We know the Eagles love the slot fade against MOFC man coverage, but I question if this was the right week to run it. Minshew didn’t look good throwing down the field and the coaching staff didn’t really help him get into a rhythm early on. You can see a huge flaw with Minshew’s pocket presence here, as he drifts to his left while looking at Goedert, and then by the time he throws it to DeVonta Smith, he has turned this into a far hash throw! There’s nothing wrong with the decision to throw but it’s a bad ball because he’s throwing from the other side of the field. I have blamed the coaching gameplan at times, but I’m not excusing how Minshew played, he was flat-out bad this week.

As I’ve mentioned before, he was just far too slow to get through his reads. I think the coaches deserve the blame because they didn’t give him any layups or easy completions early on to get him in a rhythm, but he just has to throw one of these comebacks and get rid of the ball. Against tight man coverage, you aren’t going to get huge wide-open receivers in the NFL and you have to throw with some anticipation. Minshew just didn’t do this at all in the first half and took way too many unnecessary sacks.

The best play of the game looked easy, but it’s a really clever design. The Eagles go 12 personnel which forced the Saints to match with single-high coverage. This is also the benefit of being able to run the ball effectively (which we will get to later). The Saints are now being more aggressive against the run and playing less split-safety coverages. The Eagles also line up AJ Brown in a reduced split which gives him a huge amount of wide-open space to get open. He ends up not getting that much separation but wins at the catch point as he has done so often this year, and runs away from the defenders for a huge touchdown. AJ Brown didn’t have his best game overall, but he’s a superstar talent.

Someone who is not a superstar talent is Quez Watkins. I do not understand why he keeps running these short routes but it is going to cost the Eagles if they keep throwing these routes to him.

Let’s finish by looking at the interception. It’s simply awful by Minshew. The Eagles are in empty once again (why?!) with 4 receivers to one side and AJ Brown as the isolated receiver. The Saints have a safety and linebacker quite close to AJ Brown, so there is no way Minshew should even be looking at this side. The passing strength is clearly to the 4-receiver side as I pointed out straight away after the game and also stated on the BGN Instant Reaction pod.

Not only that, but Lattimore is clearly in off coverage (not in press like earlier) and is staring right at Minshew, knowing he has help from other defenders close by. There is about a 0.1% chance of this throw being completed and it should simply never, ever be thrown. It’s a mistake you expect from a bad rookie, not an experienced quarterback. It’s just flat-out bad. Ugh.

Running Game

I was stunned the Eagles didn’t commit to the run earlier on. I hate being the ‘run the ball guy’ because it’s usually wrong, but the Eagles ran the ball really well in this game and just did not do it enough. I’m shocked they didn’t do it more early on to force the Saints to bring a defender into the box which would have made throwing the ball easier. With a backup quarterback, sometimes you just need to run the ball and help him out. The running game was really good at times and the gap scheme runs were really effective against the Saints' 4-man fronts.

I wasn’t sure exactly what concept this was and I had lots of help from players and coaches. Geoff Schwartz said he’d call it tackle power or tackle trap. Some others called it DART, tackle power, or counter. I personally thought it was tackle but who cares what it’s called! It was beautiful. Just watch how Kelce can get to the second level quickly because the Saints linebackers are slow to react. The problem last week was the lineman couldn’t get to the second level because the Cowboys were so aggressive at the line of scrimmage. This week, they could easily get to the second level and they created some huge holes. Mailata was a beast on the move in this game as well and showed off his athleticism.

I can’t believe the refs called a penalty on this block. It’s a perfectly blocked play and it really cost the Eagles. I love the design of this play so much and I’m gutted it wasn’t called a touchdown on the field.

I said last week I wanted to see the Eagles run more gap scheme runs and not just run zone read because, without Hurts, it wasn’t working as well. Gap scheme runs (power, counter etc) are less reliant on having a mobile quarterback. The Eagles proved this week they can run some more traditional gap scheme runs and do not need a mobile quarterback to run effectively. The offensive line dominated at the point of attack and some of the holes they created were huge. I just wish they ran it more often early on in the game because the Saints’ defense never really stopped the Eagles' rushing attack.

The other thing that running the ball did was protect Driscoll who was really good in the run game. In pass protection, Driscoll was fine considering the Eagles gave him very little help against Cam Jordan. He got beat a few times, but I blamed Minshew for most of the Eagles' sacks and came away pretty impressed with Driscoll at right tackle.

Final thoughts... I’m looking forward to seeing QB1 back for the Eagles.

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