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Super Bowl All-22 Film Review: What went wrong with the Eagles’ defense

NFL: FEB 12 Super Bowl LVII - Eagles vs Chiefs Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I apologize in advance. This is a tough read. Watching the Eagles’ offense back was quite enjoyable because of how well they played. This was not fun. Let’s just get into it.


This is bad. Really bad. Every single number here is significantly above average, even for the Chiefs’ offense. The Chiefs’ offense is elite but the Eagles’ defense made them look like the best offense of all time. The numbers that stand out for me are the early rush and early pass numbers. The Eagles’ defense is normally really good on late downs but they just couldn’t get the Chiefs into these situations because of how bad they were on 1st down. These numbers are absurd.

The Field

I do not want to comment on the playing surface throughout the article because it feels like making excuses. I do think it impacted the Eagles and I think it’s a disgrace that the Super Bowl was played on this field.

However, the field was not why the Eagles lost. So I’m not going to talk about it anymore.

Pass Defense

I actually don’t think the Eagles' game plan against the pass was terrible but I hated this call. The Eagles’ defense under Gannon just hates to double other teams' elite weapons for some reason. Playing cover-1 hole against the Chiefs is fine if you have one of your best defensive backs on Travis Kelce who can win one-on-one. Out of all members of the Eagles’ secondary, Marcus Epps is the last one you want on Kelce one-on-one. Yes, Travis Kelce motions inside but there is no reason Darius Slay cannot stay with Kelce. This is just way too easy for the Chiefs. Epps vs. Kelce was always going to be a huge mismatch. Andy Reid destroyed Jonathan Gannon in this one.

Andy Reid knew what the Eagles’ defense was going to do and had so many perfect calls. This is the perfect play to run against the Eagles cover-4 and by having no one on Darius Slay’s side of the field they basically have the best Eagles’ defensive back covering nobody on this play. TJ Edwards was made to look a bit silly on these throws over the middle of the field but it is a really tough ask on him. I think either James Bradberry or CGJ has to help him out on this play by leaving the vertical route. It’s just too easy for the Chiefs’ offense.

When the Eagles managed to stop the Chiefs on early downs, you could see the pass rush succeed. This is the only time I saw Reddick run a stunt and he got pressure instantly. The major issue was by losing on early downs, the Eagles couldn’t get the Chiefs into obvious passing situations like this enough. If we are going to complain about the holding call later, it’s only fair to point out that there is holding on this play that wasn’t called.

As bad as the Eagles’ defense was, sometimes you just have to accept that Patrick Mahomes is the best player in the NFL and can do ridiculous things. Jordan Davis manages to collapse the pocket enough to prevent Mahomes from escaping but he somehow gets this ball off to Travis Kelce. I have no idea how he even saw Kelce here and how he gets this throw-off. This is absurd.

However, it wasn’t just Mahomes being ridiculous all game. The Eagles made it so easy for him at times. This is the kind of play that drives me insane. Why are you playing this far off on 2nd and 7? The Chiefs do not have elite receivers and the Eagles have really good cornerbacks. Let them press and disrupt the timing! The Eagles' cornerbacks just do not challenge receivers at the line of scrimmage and giving up plays like this are just so frustrating. It’s safety first and on the biggest stage, Gannon went back to his passive style.

This Eagles’ defense has a serious problem with motion. Whoever the defensive coordinator is next season must look at this. To be beaten twice on consecutive drives by motion is awful. I know how easy it is to blame the coaches too, but what on earth is Avonte Maddox doing here? I don’t know why the Eagles’ defense struggles so badly with motion but Andy Reid knew about it and destroyed the Eagles’ man coverage on the goal line. I talk a lot about how well coaches this Eagles secondary is but they are not well-coached at all to deal with motion. It’s really odd and it cost them.

The defense made a lot of mistakes down the stretch. They just looked ill-prepared for this matchup. The Eagles’ defense will always be +1 in zone coverage, especially when rushing 4, so I have no idea why they ended up 3over3 here, especially when Travis Kelce is one of 3. This is so easy for the Chiefs.

If you skip through to the end of this article to play #13, you will see the biggest hit of the game by CGJ. You would think that after that hit, the defense may be hyped up. Ready to make a stop. Well, you would be wrong. After the biggest hit of the game, on 2nd and 8, the Eagles’ defense decides to give up an easy 7-yard throw by playing the same old passive style that we all hate. I cannot tell you how much this play annoys me. The Eagles didn’t give up any real explosive pass plays in this game, so congrats Jonathan Gannon! But it didn’t matter because they gave up these small chunks to make easy 3rd downs time after time. Most of you know that I have defended Jonathan Gannon this year and I do think he has had a very good year, but on the biggest stage, he lost his nerve.

Another weird part of the Eagles’ game plan was how little they cared about Mahomes scrambling all game. He had some huge runs in big moments and this was a big reason they lost the game. Jordan Davis gets absolutely no push at all which allows Mahomes to escape. Kyzir White is supposed to be covering the running back so when he helps in pass protection, White should be watching Mahomes or rushing the passer. Instead, he just hovers to the side of the field and does nothing.

This was the only snap Reed Blankenship played all game because it was one of the few times the Eagles could get the Chiefs into obvious passing situations. They have the right call here and decide to double Travis Kelce and the pass rush wins. Sadly, James Bradberry is called for holding which is the worst thing he possibly could have done here. He would have been better off letting the receiver score. I think it’s a 50/50 call but it’s not the reason the Eagles lost. The Eagles lost because they were terrible on defense all game long.

Run Defense

The Eagles’ run defense was a huge problem in this game. I think it’s the biggest reason they lost this game. They could not stop the run and I can’t believe how bad some individual performances were. It looked bad immediately from the start of the game. I have complimented him weekly, but this was TJ Edwards’ worst game of the season by a significant distance. He was so slow to come downfield and I have no idea what he was watching on some of these plays. There is no reason for him to get distracted by the motion here and he needs to get downhill quickly to make a play on the running back.

This play was interesting to me because it was the only time I saw the Eagles line up with Cox at nose tackle and Brandon Graham next to him. I would love to know why the Eagles didn’t try this again after it worked! As you will see later on, the Eagles' nose tackles were awful in this game so I wonder why they didn’t try this same use of personnel more. This was one of the only times I saw TJ Edwards make a positive play against the run and one of the only run blitzes I saw all game. It just felt like the Eagles’ defense was terrified of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ passing game so they were slow to get downhill all game. Not here though!

Some of these plays were so frustrating to watch. This is easily one of the most annoying. The number of times I saw 2 Eagles’ defenders take the same gap in run defense was absurd. Both TJ Edwards and Kyzir White are left unblocked and they still can’t get near the running back. Hargrave has had a fantastic season but he was poor in the run game this week too. I hate to pick on him but Jordan Davis was flat-out terrible in this game too. We will see a lot more of him later, despite the fact he only played 10 snaps! I think James Bradberry will be incredibly disappointed with his performance against the run too. He was fine in coverage but he seemed completely disinterested in helping out in the run game. Compare how to plays here to the Chiefs’ secondary and the difference is huge.

I am not going to go in on Jordan Davis because he clearly has not been the same player since he was hurt. But he was really bad in this game. I didn’t think Linval Joseph looked good at the start of this game either, but I do not know why the Eagles gave Jordan Davis the same amount of snaps as Joseph. He didn’t anchor well at all and didn’t even command double teams. The Eagles’ defense needs their nose tackle to command double teams and he just didn’t do it. The center is double-teaming him here with the guard but he quickly releases to the 2nd level and gets to TJ Edwards because Davis gets moved easily. The past few weeks the Eagles’ defense has been so committed to stopping the run and been far more aggressive coming downhill, especially against the 49ers, and this week they just went to the bad Eagles’ defense we have seen in the past. I don’t get it.

If I was frustrated watching this game, it must have been incredibly frustrating playing in this game too. It was about time someone made a play against the run. This is a huge hit by CGJ and on another day he could have caused a massive fumble here. Watch how high Jordan Davis is on this play too. He is so upright which makes it so easy to block him one-on-one. The Chiefs’ interior offensive line is really good and they dominated the Eagles' defensive line in this matchup. I’m not thinking too much about the offseason yet but I want to see CGJ back with the Eagles next season.

I am glad that is over. What a terrible performance from a really talented defense.

Thank you for checking out these pieces each week and if you have any ideas for any off-season pieces you want to read, just let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@JonnyPage9). I really appreciate all the comments and views which allow me to do this weekly! Thank you!

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