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Eagles-Giants film analysis: Lots of positives but why can’t the Birds deal with the blitz?

NFL: DEC 25 Giants at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Eagles won! I think the Eagles played well on offense but there are definitely some areas that they need to improve on. Surprisingly, this was quite an interesting one to break down. Let’s get into it.

Offense

I am pleased to announce, that I think the run game is back. The Eagles committed to the run this week, and they did exactly what I have been calling for in recent weeks. We saw signs of progress last week, but it now feels like Hurts is healthy and is a big part of the run game. The Eagles opened the game with my favorite play, GT Counter Bash, and they ran about 7 variations of counter in this game. Remember when the Eagles just ran inside zone over and over from shotgun and stopped running gap scheme concerts? That feels like a long time ago. The running game looked like it did last year, which was fantastic to see. If you want to read about Counter, I wrote about it this offseason here.

Am I dreaming? A play-action throw, from under center 12 personnel, that includes an intermediate route to Dallas Goedert? Where has this been?! Maybe I’m old school, but I am such a fan of play-action from under center. I have been calling for more intermediate throws to Dallas Goedert all season, and I hope this is something we start to see more of. Jalen Hurts throws such a great ball on these deep-out routes too. This is lovely to see. I wrote about Dallas Goedert a couple of years ago and said this:

Outstanding route runner vs man coverage, understands how to get open and the nuances of route running. He is elite at getting open in the intermediate game, on crossers, deep outs, or post-corners. This matches up really well with Jalen Hurts’ skillset.

That remains true.

Speaking of plays that got me excited; the Eagles' use of choice routes in this game got me excited. The Eagles ran numerous choice routes with DeVonta Smith and he seemed on the same page as Hurts. Choice routes can be unstoppable if the quarterback and receiver are on the same page. They aren’t easy to run, so it was really good to see the Eagles have success with them in this game. Dallas Goedert also ran one on 3rd down later in the game.

I also really like running choice routes with the slot receiver lined up next to AJ Brown, as the Eagles did every time in this game. I think that is deliberate. A great way to defeat choice routes for a defense is to play cover 2 trap and try and catch the quarterback out by forcing the slot receiver to break out and then have a cornerback sitting on the boundary. However, by running the choice route next to AJ Brown, you prevent cover 2 trap from being called because that would result in AJ Brown being one-on-one with a cover 2 safety, which no team is going to want! Some defensive coordinators may still call this, so keep an eye out for it over the next few weeks. This is good stuff though.

Sadly, we are going to talk about the blitz a lot this week. Before we get into it too much, I wanted to highlight this play for a specific reason. The Eagles constantly throw away from the pressure, and it means that Jalen Hurts is open to taking shots like this. I am sorry, but you cannot have your quarterback getting hit like this routinely. This is a concussion or a shoulder injury waiting to happen. The Eagles need to get serious about dealing with pressure and have to stop throwing away from pressure like this. Even if this is a touchdown, I don’t like it.

Earlier on, the Eagles ran GT Counter Bash at Kayvon Thibodeaux and he tried to cheat inside so the Eagles handed it off to D’Andre Swift. This time, Thibodeaux stays with the back so Hurts keeps it. It doesn’t get any better than this. Look how well the Eagles offensive line executes conter runs too. I want them to keep running this concept over and over and keep building on it. I love it!

I mentioned choice routes earlier on with DeVonta Smith lining up next to AJ Brown, here is another one that resulted in a huge touchdown. I was wondering live where the deep safety was, well it turned out that he was running after AJ Brown because opposing defenses are terrified of playing single-high against AJ Brown and Jalen Hurts. Even when he doesn’t appear on the stat sheet, AJ Brown is making an impact!

It’s time to talk about the blitz again. Sigh. The Eagles had some of the worst play calls against obvious pressure looks in this game that I’ve seen in a long time. The offense just does not adapt to pressure and the number of times that the Giants brought an extra rusher in this game and the Eagles failed to have to answer was absurd. I didn’t even think a lot of these pressures were difficult to predict. Just take this play below. Rather than line Goedert up in a condensed split, move him wider. Then you would force the extra rusher to rush from a wider position. Secondly, it’s clear that post-snap the Eagles are going to be 3over2 on the right side. Just run a hot route and dump it off! It doesn’t have to be this hard! I really do not understand the Eagles' plan against pressure, and this game was incredibly frustrating because this happened time and time again.

I regretted posting this play after posting it because I think it paints an unfair picture of Hurts in this game. I wanted to post because I think it’s an area that Hurts can still improve on, but I don’t think it was an issue in this game except for this game. I’m pretty sure every other time Hurts bailed from the pocket it was due to poor game planning and pressure. However, I do think Hurts will want this play back and should not have bailed from the pocket.

What else is there to say? It’s the same stuff. A condensed receiver makes it easier for the Giants to send an extra rusher. The Eagles are so clearly 3over3 at the top of the screen, just throw a checkdown to Boston Scott and see if he can break a tackle! It’s 1st down and the Eagles have a timeout. If Scott gets tackled, then just take the timeout. He might even be able to get out of bounds. Just look at that pre-snap picture and imagine that Scott just stands still, turns around, and Hurts throws it straight to him. Why not? There is just no answer to pressure. It’s like the Eagles run the same play and just hope Hurts will find a way to make something happen. It’s maddening.

I mentioned it earlier, but I really loved the Eagles' commitment to the run game this week. Every single carry in the second half came from 12 personnel, and it felt like the Eagles from last year where they would just run it over and over even though the defense knew what was coming. I love running from 12 personnel because the Eagles have good run-blocking tight ends, and I was glad to see more 12 personnel this week. I expect the Eagles to keep using 12 personnel because it should also open up more downfield opportunities by forcing the defense to play single-high.

Also, Cam Jurgens’ block is one of the best things I’ve seen this week. It is beautiful.

This is an absolute dime. I thought Hurts had a good game and he threw the ball really effectively. He had some excellent ball placement on several different throws, but this was the best of the lot. This is as good as it gets.

The Eagles ran a lot from pistol this week which was another positive change to the running game. I was getting frustrated with the shotgun run game, so using a lot of pistol is an excellent way of helping the running backs out without fully committing to under center. When the Eagles ran from pistol, I thought DeAndre Swift looked the best he has looked for a while. I have said this time and time again, but I think you need to commit to the running game to get the best out of the running game. I want the offense to have a ‘we are going to run the ball down your throats over and over again’ mentality. This week, I think we saw that mentality for the first time in a while. And I can’t be certain, but I think all the offensive players bought into this mindset and it showed on the field.

I don't know why I ended with this play, because now I’m sad again. I don’t have anything else to say, because it’s the same thing I’ve spoken about hundreds of times this year. The Eagles finally leave a back into block, but the Giants just bring an extra defender and there’s a free rusher on Hurts. I really hope the Eagles are studying this film closely because it wasn’t good enough.

There was so much positive stuff to look at this week, so it was a little bit of a shame to see the same issues against the blitz. The Eagles did make some changes earlier on in the season and did run some hot routes, so I know that they can do it, and I want to see some of these changes in week 18 when they play the Giants again.

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