Well, that was... interesting. Last year I broke Eagles game down into passing and running, but I had some comments asking me to look at the game in chronological order so you can see how the game flows. I will go through the game and give comments on players and scheme throughout. Please remember that it is Week 1, and I don’t think we need to panic! I can only comment on what I see, but I think the Patriots' defense played very, very well too.
I thought the 1st drive looked very promising and just like the Eagles from last year (I wonder if Brian Johnson felt some pressure when the scripted plays ran out?) and this was my favorite call of the first drive. The running game was pretty disappointing overall, but this was a beauty. I don’t think we saw enough gap scheme throughout the game, and I actually thought the run game was surprisingly basic, but this is a perfect rep of counter read from 12 personnel. Kenneth Gainwell does a great job staying patient behind and following his blocks. Love it.
Eagles All22 Offense thread vs Patriots. 1) The first drive was the best of the game, and this was one of the best runs of the night. 12 personnel, pistol, counter read with some excellent patience shown by Kenny Gainwell. This was a great start. pic.twitter.com/aiKIaju3ZZ— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
This was another fantastic running play on the first drive. QB draw was basically a cheat code for the Eagles last year, and they run it here perfectly against a 5 man front. It ends up as a QB lead draw with Gainwell as the lead blocker (which is a little different from what we saw last year - QB draw was almost always from empty) and Gainwell does a fantastic job creating some space for first. It all started, so so well...
2) Loved this QB lead draw on 3rd and long. QB Draw was normally run from empty by the Eagles last year, so using Gainwell as a lead blocker is a nice little change up. This play has been so consistent for a long time now and it's a great play to keep a defense honest on 3rd… pic.twitter.com/Swmj3gobxe— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
Sadly, the first drive came to an end with a very familiar sight. Bill Belichick schooled the Eagles on 3rd down in this game. This is just pretty poor. When you go empty, you have to have an answer for a 6-man blitz. It’s pretty obvious that the Patriots can bring 6 on this play, so the Eagles must have a hot route or an answer for a free rusher. And they don’t. Jalen Hurts is looking immediately to his right where they have one-on-one coverage but there’s no way he can throw this quick out. The Eagles must be better in this situation moving forward. There has to be a quick throwing option when you go to empty and the other team sends 6.
3) Eagles only had a whole off-season to figure out how to handle pressure when in empty... this is rough. It's pretty clear 6 can come. If the Pats bring 6, you simply have to have a hot or a quick throw against pressure. Hurts looks right and there's just nothing there. pic.twitter.com/oH5TnYeh9U— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
However, the Eagles did throw a beautiful touchdown on a rollout to DeVonta Smith. One answer against pressure is to get the QB on the move, and the Eagles did this here. It’s a simple quick out by DeVonta Smith but it’s a really nice route and an excellent throw and catch. This is just really hard to defend.
4) On the other hand, this is a beauty. Hurts is so good at rolling to his right, and this is such a tough play to stop. It's an electric route from Smith and Hurts delivers a dime on the move. This is just a great throw and catch, that is very hard to stop on the goal line. pic.twitter.com/HWUE58ZYpM— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
After the first 2 touchdown drives, it got a little bit ugly for the remainder of the first half. I think some of this was the game state, good defense by the Patriots, and some bad offense. The next few drives after the touchdown were all 3 and outs and they were rough. The Eagles continually struggled on 1st and 2nd down and just got out-coached on 3rd down. To be honest, when the Eagles were winning by a lot still, they just seemed to give up on 3rd down. Running with Boston Scott on 3rd and 10 (in the 2nd quarter) feels about as close to giving up as you can get. Honestly, after the first 2 touchdown drives, the rest of the 1st and 2nd quarter was about as boring as it can get on offense. There was nothing interesting at all. The Patriots blitzed the Eagles on 2 3rd downs in a row, and the Eagles didn’t really have an answer. On the next 3rd down, the Eagles called a screen and the Pats didn’t send pressure. Belichick is still excellent.
5) The rest of the 2nd quarter, Belichick killed the Eagles. Pats brought pressure on & longs and the Eagles had no answer. On the next 3rd down, the Eagles call a WR screen (likely expecting blitz) and the Pats just send 4. The Eagles offense just got stuck in the 2nd quarter. pic.twitter.com/NTSjotNwQl— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
It wasn’t all a disaster, and I thought the Eagles had some really nice hi-lo throws against the Patriots zone coverage. The Patriots defensive spacing was really good and the windows were tight. Even on a pretty bad day, Hurts still showed the progress he has made in the last few years because he wasn’t making a throw like in the middle of the field 2 years ago.
6) The Eagles best throws were on Hi-Lo concepts in the middle of the field. I thought AJ Brown was excellent and Hurts did throw with good anticipation to the middle of the field. The Pats defensive spacing was excellent so these throws had to be thrown really well. pic.twitter.com/V5yFDcC01u— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
I thought Hurts was a little off all-game with some of his decisions, and I thought he made a few wrong decisions on RPOs. This is a tough one, and I’m not sure I can blame him when he is reading the EDGE defender, but if he does spot the Patriots busting the coverage then Dallas Goedert is wide open. Goedert’s reaction tells you all you need to know about this one...
7) I'm unsure if the Eagles RG would have got called for being down field (I don't think so?) but I bet Hurts wants this one back. They get the 1st down, and the call to hand to the RB isn't wrong based on the EDGE defender, but the Pats totally bust this coverage on Goedert. pic.twitter.com/dZOIH4S19O— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
As good as the Eagles’ offense was last year, we know that it did rely on the receivers winning one-on-one matchups on the outside at times. The Eagles deep shots just didn’t come off in this one, which will happen. I was disappointed with Hurts though, because he was so good at holding the safety with his eyes, but he just stared this down the whole way. Smith actually has a step on the cornerback, but the safety reads Hurts’ eyes and gets all the way across from the middle of the field to break it up. It’s a good defensive play, but Hurts must be better and hold that middle safety with his eyes.
8) This play sort of summed up the Eagles and Hurts day. The Eagles love throwing go routes, but this is poor from Hurts. The shot could be there, but he has to move the safety or freeze him with his eyes. He's staring this down the whole time and it allows the safety to get… pic.twitter.com/2zXsSqtK3J— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
Speaking of bad Hurts plays, this is quite clearly the worst play of the day. I want to be clear: I love Hurts being aggressive. I don’t mind taking this shot to A.J. Brown in double coverage if no one else is open. But ... this ball HAS to go to Goedert. It is the perfect call against a 3-deep zone. AJ Brown’s route clears out the deep safety and the deep 1⁄3 cornerback. There is no one covering Goedert at all, this is as open as it gets in the NFL. Hurts has to see that deep safety go after AJ Brown and know that Goedert will be coming wide open. This is a tough miss.
9) This is obviously a terrible read from Hurts. 13 personnel, and the Eagles catch the Patriots out. The protection is perfect, and AJ Brown's post corner takes away the deep safety and the deep 1/3 defender. That leaves the deep over wide open and Hurts HAS to throw this to… pic.twitter.com/sn6OX2ziNQ— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
This play is another poor play from Hurts. I just don’t think he saw the field too well and bailed from a few pockets. I think he missed one here. I thought he was moving the deep safety to the right-hand side, and was then going to come back to the slot on the left on the deep route which is open. He doesn’t get his head back to the left though, and ends up bailing from a pretty clean pocket. I don’t think Hurts was comfortable at all in this game.
10) I know @ChipWagoneer would agree... but the Eagles passing game outside of structure was really bad in this one. Every time Hurts left the pocket, it seemed to end in a small run or an incomplete run like this. I really think the Eagles need to work on out of structure pass… pic.twitter.com/BB3NfcJxrm— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
Let’s end with this one. This play sort of summed up the game for me. The Eagles’ offense is built around getting its playmakers in one-on-one matchups. I saw some complaints about this playcall, but at the end of the day the Eagles get DeVonta Smith on a rookie cornerback one-on-one... and he doesn’t win! It happens! Sometimes the defense plays really well, and this felt like a game where Hurts wasn’t sharp, the Eagles were still in preseason mode, and they came up against a really, really good defense. The Eagles’ offense must be better, but I’m not hitting the panic button yet.
11) Last one for this evening. I saw some complaints about this 4th down play call, but the Eagles get DeVonta Smith on a rookie cornerback one-on-one. Sometimes, the defense just plays really well, and this felt like a game where the Patriots played really well, and the Eagles… pic.twitter.com/7XeatHdo9D— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 12, 2023
Other quick notes...
- I am stunned that the Eagles used so much 11 personnel when they were so efficient last year from 12 personnel. I just think using that much 11 personnel makes it easier to gameplan against. I do not want this to become a trend.
#Eagles player & personnel grouping snap counts following the Week 1 win over New England.— Deniz Selman (@denizselman33) September 11, 2023
-Offense was in 11 personnel for 85% of the snaps (was 71% for the season in 2022).
-Defense was in 5-man fronts for just 15% of snaps (was over 40% in 2022). pic.twitter.com/dvDmNmjhuP
- Lane Johnson actually got beat a fair bit, which is weird. I wouldn’t panic but it’s something to keep an eye on. He is 33 now, after all.
- I won’t go mad about the running back rotation and I do like Kenny G, but he’s not good enough to be a feature back. I hope we get a chance to see Rashaad Penny have some early down snaps soon.
- In my season preview, I spoke about the Eagles’ out of structure passing game being bad in 2022. Except for the one huge bomb to AJ Brown (that was ruled incomplete) the Eagles’ offense just had nothing when Hurts left the pocket. Hurts is such a good athlete and good at throwing on the run, so the Eagles need to practice out of structure drills more.
- I didn’t think the Eagles staff did a good job getting receivers open in general. Hurts was really good at checking it down and eliminating what wasn’t there, but he had to do it quite a lot. Hurts wasn’t good in this game, but I don’t think the offense helped him out much.
- I didn’t see a great deal of creativity in the passing game. There were a lot of 3x1 and 2x2 sets but I didn’t see much useful motion, bunches, or stacks. It felt a bit bland.
That’s all for this week, it’s good to be back! Let me know your thoughts as always!