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.)
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.
Eagles Defense All22 threads vs. Bills. 1) It feels weird to say this considering the Eagles have up 500+ yards but I thought Bradberry/Slay both looked good. Bradberry does a great job not turning and running too early here on 3rd down and does a good job covering the comeback. pic.twitter.com/YUjQpDoUsX— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
2) I was impressed with the Eagles run defense again this week. Davis and Carter were both fantastic despite playing a ton of snaps. I also thought the Eagles linebackers were once against excellent at getting downhill. Look at Davis take on the double team here! pic.twitter.com/srHRkMsgmB— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
3) I'm not going to turn this into a Josh Allen thread but... Wow. He was so good. I love this call by the defense on 3rd down. They have Reddick/Sweat next to each other. Carter at EDGE (!!) and they play 1-double to take away Diggs. I think this is really good defense, but it's… pic.twitter.com/MNmLHjszgl— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
4) This play by Darius Slay is crazy good. There's been some criticism this year, but I've always maintained his athleticism still looks fantastic. There's not many cornerbacks who can turn and cover the backside dig like this. This play also highlighted the time Allen had in the… pic.twitter.com/kH0ArqFR2D— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
5) I hate running cover 2 when your corners don't get any hands on the receivers at the LOS. The Eagles had a couple reps of cover 2 where Josh Allen found the soft spot. I would like the coaches to ask Slay to get physical at the LOS here and give the pass rush more time to get… pic.twitter.com/iS2fHFfWT3— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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?!).
6) Slay lined up near Diggs quite a lot in this game, but not here. It's easy to be critical of the coverage, but I think the Eagles are doing a good job getting eyes on Diggs with Byard over the top of him. I just can't be too critical here. This is a ridiculous throw. pic.twitter.com/B0uqpe4M6S— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
7) Last week I questioned some of the Eagles run defense on the edge, and wondered who was at fault. There were numerous snaps where Reddick/Sweat jumped inside and the LB set the edge perfectly. This is obviously coached and I'm glad the Eagles corrected it after last week. pic.twitter.com/EoeCc8WALB— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
8) I routinely have issues with the Eagles man coverage. Any defensive coaches out there, can someone explain why the two corners are both pressed up on the LOS? It's just too easy to pick with these kind of route combos and the Eagles get away with one here because the wheel… pic.twitter.com/WGuRwNVbIT— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
9) Diggs ran a lot of out routes from the slot in this one. If the Eagles audible to cover 2 trap here because of the late shift, then this is awesome! Perfect play call for this type of route and it shows great game planning. pic.twitter.com/XBZC8E4XDq— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
What else can you say about Jalen Carter? Is he an all-pro already?
10) Jalen Carter. Lol. He was so good in this game. The Eagles have a superstar. pic.twitter.com/MrrMzN45Nf— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
11) Does any play sum up Brandon Graham as a pro, better than this play? He is relentless! He fights through a chip and a double team and makes a huge play. I have absolutely no doubt BG is going to make some huge plays when it really matters in the playoffs. pic.twitter.com/fepupaGS5Q— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
12) The Eagles get aggressive (which sums up Desai's mentality) in the biggest play of the game and send 6. Pretty sure Slay is taught to play the short/intermediate routes here, and he gets beat deep as the Eagles struggle to pass the routes off. However, a miscommunication… pic.twitter.com/XM8PbZzGjU— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
Can we talk about Jordan Davis in overtime? He played a lot of snaps, and was making these plays on one drive in overtime. The effort and athleticism on the 3rd play in unbelievable for a man his size. This is awesome. pic.twitter.com/U7FUx6hdAO— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) November 28, 2023
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.
On the Shane Page Ep.7⃣ @JonnyPage9 @ShaneHaffNFL— BGN Radio (@BGN_Radio) November 30, 2023
Jordan Davis was unbelievable in OT
James Bradberry & Darius Slay played their best games of the season Week 12
When Josh Allen is feeling himself, he's the best in the league
: https://t.co/tmQbrnTOpa pic.twitter.com/ljpseLa3U0
As always, feel free to ask any questions and I hope you enjoyed!