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.
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.
Eagles Offense All22 thread vs. Giants. 1) Eagles started with my fav run play, GT Counter Bash, and they went after Thibodeaux who isn't a great run defender. Thibodeaux tries to cheat inside so Hurts hands it off. The Eagles are calling more runs where the QB can keep it now. pic.twitter.com/Jcfee9mUxZ— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.
2) 12 Personnel under center play-action 3-level stretch concept. Beautiful. Hurts throws this ball so well and Goedert runs these intermediate out routes as well as anyone. I've been screaming for this all year, so this play got me excited! Hurts had some lovely throws outside… pic.twitter.com/jqlOOD5IGe— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.
3) Choice routes were a major part of the offense in this game. DeVonta Smith primarily ran them, but Goedert had a couple later on. Hurts and Smith are starting to form a really good connection on these. I'd also like to see Swift on them out the backfield at times. pic.twitter.com/sXgloHnuTC— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.
4) I'm sort of OK with the concept here against pressure but the Eagles continue to throw away from free rushers and I do not get it. Hurts is going to get hurt one day from this. He takes a huge hit from his backside and lands on his throwing side. That's not good. pic.twitter.com/XclqgF6NvY— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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!
5) Same as play 1, GT Counter Bash but this time Hurts keeps it. The Eagles run game has really come on the past few weeks, and it's clear that they weren't running this stuff due to Hurts injuries early on. This is really well executed and it's beautiful to watch. pic.twitter.com/KwMVddsjGp— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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!
6) Another choice route to DeVonta Smith. This time he breaks inside and Hurts hits him in stride perfectly. It's a lovely concept and ends up being a big play due to the Giants horrific spacing on defense. Look at Zaccheaus' blocking down the field! pic.twitter.com/yNZjAZ4C2b— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.
7) Ugh. So many bad points. 3rd down and an obvious pressure look. Once again, Hurts is throwing away from pressure so he's fading backwards. The Eagles are basically 3v2 on the right side here. If there is a built in hot route where Hurts just dumps it off, the Eagles could end… pic.twitter.com/2tSn1PIKQs— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.
8) I think Hurts had a good game, and threw the ball well. Most of the issues I had were with offensive design rather than him personally. I still think he could step up in the pocket better and not bail as much as he does. Goedert is coming open here and if he steps up, he has a… pic.twitter.com/2zsYxNl5wL— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.
9) Another incredibly obvious pressure look. It's 6v5, and I think it's quite clear pre-snap they are blitzing from Hurts right. It's so obvious they are getting 3on3 at the top. This is 1st down. Why not just have a screen/hot built in where you instantly check it down to Scott?… pic.twitter.com/0TbT5W5O9P— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.
10) The Eagles ran the ball really well down the stretch. I loved that they fully committed to it. This is an aggressive 'we are running it down your throats and you can't stop us' type of run. The double teams are beautiful and Cam Jurgens just THROWS 58 out of the club not… pic.twitter.com/yK2lOTXfBU— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.
11) Not much to say on this one other than it's an absolute dime from Hurts. Just a ridiculous throw. This sounds a really stupid point, but Hurts throws the ball really well. He gets good velocity or touch when needed. I thought his ball placement was really strong in this game pic.twitter.com/X5Ykw3ifDU— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.
12) The Eagles used a lot of pistol in the 2nd half and ran a lot of inside/outside zone. This is a great rep of split-zone and it's a big time run by Swift. I've been critical of Swift of late, but I do think he ran hard in this one. The run game looks good! pic.twitter.com/ePnQ9VByXB— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.
13) Let's end here. I don't really know what to say that hasn't been said a thousand times already! The Giants bring 7, the Eagles have 6 to block, Hurts has to bail and the play is dead. Rather than run Crash to the bottom, maybe just run a slant/flat every so often? pic.twitter.com/2fMJ8DhtL5— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) December 27, 2023
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.