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Eagles Film Analysis: All-22 defense takeaways from the Bills game

Buffalo Bills v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Wow... this game took a while to watch and break down! I had to try and condense this one because there was so much to say, so make sure you check out this week's BGN podcast if you want even more! (Previously: Offense version.)

Defense

I am sorry if this annoys a lot of you, but I thought the Eagles’ defense looked pretty good on film this week and I’m not going to moan too much. Yes, I know they gave up 500+ yards. I thought this was one of those games where Josh Allen just played out of his mind and I didn’t have a huge issue with the Eagles’ defensive game plan. This also sounds weird, but I thought James Bradberry and Darius Slay both had their best games of the season. They moved really well and I think that’s a really good sign moving forward.

I can’t say enough good things about the Eagles’ run defense in this game. If you take out the crazy Josh Allen’s scrambles, this was an outstanding performance where the Bills' running backs only averaged 2.96 yards per carry on 31 carries (Also - the 3 long runs on the final drive happened because the Eagles’ defensive line were exhausted in my opinion). That’s pretty exceptional run defense. I thought the Eagles’ defensive line and linebackers were outstanding with their discipline against the run. Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter stood out in this game. Both of them had multiple snaps where they jumped off the screen.

I promise I won’t talk about Josh Allen again in this article. Just keep in mind that a big reason why the Eagles’ defense looked bad was the play of Allen. This play is a great example of why I won’t complain about the game plan too much. I really like this call and I have absolutely no issues with the call. Unfortunately for the Eagles, Josh Allen escapes out of the pocket and makes a ridiculous throw. I think the Eagles did a good job moving Slay around to help prevent Stefon Diggs from going off in this one.

Also, check out Jalen Carter on the EDGE!

I know Darius Slay hasn’t had his best year so far, but how well does he move here? I don’t think we have to worry about the age curve yet. This is a beautiful coverage rep where he practically runs the route for the receiver. The Eagles had some issues in pass coverage throughout this game, but I still think Slay and Bradberry had really good games.

The Eagles ran some cover 2 and I had a few issues with it. I don’t mind cover 2 (this is possibly Tampa 2) but I think you need to have a match element where a corner travels with the vertical route or you have to get physical at the line of scrimmage and try to disrupt the timing of the routes. The Eagles struggled to get consistent pressure on Josh Allen in this game, and playing cover 2 behind a struggling pass rush with no press coverage is asking for trouble. This wasn’t the only time in the game that Josh Allen found an open receiver against cover 2 and he picked up a couple of big gains.

It’s easy to moan about this completion and wonder why Slay wasn’t following Diggs, but once again I struggle to be too critical. Slay did follow Diggs quite a bit, but he obviously won’t follow him on every play. The Eagles have a lot of eyes on Diggs here in zone coverage but it’s just a ridiculous throw by Allen and a fantastic catch (I lied, I did end up talking about Josh Allen again. But look at this throw?!).

I loved how the Eagles learned from last week's mistakes and were excellent at defending runs on the edge. Last week, there were multiple occasions where Haason Reddick and Josh Sweat jumped inside and nobody covered the edge. This week, every time Reddick and Sweat jumped inside, the defense knew what they were doing and one of the linebackers did a great job setting the edge.

I like a lot of what Sean Desai has brought to this defense, but I struggle a little bit with some of the man coverage reps that I see. One of the reasons the Eagles continue to struggle against stacks and bunches is because they will line cornerbacks at the same depth. They have their reasons why they do this, and I would love to hear some reasons as to why because to me this is too easy to beat. It’s pretty obvious that it’s man coverage on the left and the second you read single-high coverage as a quarterback, you know that the two-man route concept is going to win against man coverage with the corners at that depth. Any defensive coaches in the comments, let me know your thoughts.

This was either fantastic game planning from Desai, a fantastic play by Bradberry, or a combination of the two! I am going to go with the latter. The Bills were using Stefon Diggs a lot in the slot and he was consistently running outbreaking routes. It looks like both teams audible here, and the Eagles are clearly expecting the out route from Diggs (especially from empty). So the Eagles call cover-2 trap (or Bradberry just makes a play based on his gut feeling) and Bradberry makes a great play on the ball. There is nothing better than an interception from cover-2 trap. It just doesn’t get any better than this. I spoke about the sequencing from the offense in that article, so it’s worth pointing out that the defense does something similar here. By running a bit of cover-2 earlier on in the game, it allows them to run cover-2 trap here. Remember that some play calls are called to allow you to do things differently later on in games.

What else can you say about Jalen Carter? Is he an all-pro already?

Watching Brandon Graham get this sack, on the day he broke the record for most Eagles starts, had me feeling all sorts of things. I’ve been watching BG and Fletcher Cox get after opposing quarterbacks since I started breaking down the film and it’s going to feel so weird when they aren’t playing anymore. BG can still play, and I am certain he is going to play a big role down the stretch.

This play call sums up the difference between the Eagles’ defense this year compared to last. You can make an argument that this call ‘fails’ and if the Bills execute properly, then they should score a touchdown and win the game. But this is the Eagles' mentality on defense under Desai. They do not want to lose to dink-and-dunk offenses and would rather take the chance with an aggressive play. Josh Allen had killed the Eagles with his legs all game and this felt like a play where the Eagles just said it’s not happening again. The other thing I like about this play call is that it takes away the possibility of a 5-7 yard completion which sets the Bills up for going for it on 4th and short. It almost feels like a touchdown or incompletion is the only outcome here. I will never, ever moan about the Eagles being aggressive on defense. I love it.

This wasn’t in my film thread but... just enjoy watching Jordan Davis balling out down the stretch. That final play is one of the most incredible things I have seen on an NFL field.

I’m going to end with a plug... sorry! If you haven’t had a chance yet, I’m now part of BGN Radio and do a weekly podcast breaking down the all22. It’s a great complement to this article each week and I’d love some feedback. Here’s a short clip of the kind of things that we discuss.

As always, feel free to ask any questions and I hope you enjoyed!

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