You know the drill by now... The Eagles win and I break it down. Let’s go.
(Previously: Eagles vs. Bucs offense review.)
I don’t think I’ve seen the Eagles’ run fits look this good since the days of Jim Schwartz (I always said he was a great DC by the way...) and it was beautiful to see. There was nowhere for the Bucs’ running backs to go all game. It wasn’t just one player, it was an overall team effort. They looked extremely well coached and all knew what gap they had, when to set the edge, when to be aggressive, and when to play smart. It was really good to see. I’ve criticized his coverage ability a fair bit this season, so it’s only fair that I point out that Zach Cunningham was really good against the run all game. Fair play!
Eagles Defense All22 vs. Bucs. 1) I was SO impressed with the Eagles run fits. The team looked so well prepared. Really good team defense here and Cunningham makes an excellent play, avoiding the guard and making the tackle. Desai has improved the nickel run fits so far this year pic.twitter.com/4BdKpM27tQ— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
This exact 4-2 look with a 2-high shell was a disaster for the Eagles last year. Even when the Eagles’ run defense was good last year, remember it was only when they used a 5-man front. They could not stop the run from a 4-2 front, ever. It’s different this year.
Jordan Davis was absolutely ridiculous in this one. Honestly, his speed and power combination is just rare. I was a skeptic in the offseason and it’s pretty clear I was completely wrong. I did always wonder whether he was fully healthy last year, and I’m pretty sure he wasn’t. Because he is playing at a high, high level.
2) This 4-2 front is exactly where the Eagles got killed repeatedly last year. Not anymore! The speed of Jordan Davis is absurd. He just avoids the double team, sheds the center with ease and blows this up. Cunningham/Morrow were very good at getting downhill fast. pic.twitter.com/WdVVAAQS6J— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
I almost felt bad for the Bucs on this one. This was one of the only times their offensive line won and they actually created a hole for the running back ... and then Reed Blankenship flew downhill and got the tackle for loss. The Eagles were in a 2-high shell all game, but they constantly rotated a safety downhill.
3) One of the only plays the Bucs block well, and the Eagles' still get a TFL with Blankenship flying downhill and making a great open field tackle. What else can you say about Blankenship?! He's just a great starting safety. What a fantastic pick he was last year. pic.twitter.com/C7rQdJda1c— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
Here’s another example of the two-high rotation to a form of cover 3 match. I think Josh Jobe will get picked on by opposing offenses, but putting James Bradberry in the slot was definitely the right decision. The Eagles’ defense was far better than it was last week in coverage, although getting a few key players back from injury obviously played a big role too.
4) Eagles rotated from 2-high to a variation of cover 3 a lot in this game. I thought the zone match coverage was really tight, and Jobe held up overall. It's cool seeing some of the Eagles different pressure looks on 3rd down, such as Reddick rushing from the LB spot here. pic.twitter.com/8p2NLaRaon— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
Just watch Jordan Davis. What else can you say? He’s playing at such a high level. He made it look so easy all game.
5) Running into Jordan Davis must be like running into a wall. He just kills all momentum. Stopping the RB falling forward and picking up an extra 1-2 yards can be really important. Davis was manhandling blocks one-on-one and making it look easy all game long. pic.twitter.com/czK8vax36A— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
This play just cracked me up. Watching Brandon Graham drop into coverage is always funny (sorry BG). But I could not stop watching Jalen Carter on this play. Honestly, you would think he was a 260 lb EDGE with the way he gets after the quarterback. His closing burst is ridiculous for a man his size. The Eagles got an absolute steal, and I’m trying to lower my expectations for how good I think he is going to be. But I can’t. I think he might be a legitimate superstar.
6) Not sure what's better here: watching BG attempt to drop into coverage or Jalen Carter looking like an EDGE defender rushing the QB. Seriously, how lean and athletic does Carter look for a 323 DT? He wins with ease and leaves a little on the QB at the end too! pic.twitter.com/drYBB36ZLF— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
I’ve spoken about Carter and Davis playing out of their mind, but I really don’t think there’s a player I enjoy watching more on this Eagles’ defense than Reed Blankenship. I just think he’s fantastic. He does everything well, has no obvious weaknesses and celebrates every play as hard as he plays every snap. What is there not to like? I expect the national media to start talking about him soon...
7) This is how you treat a QB who is late and staring down his target! Looks like QQH to me and Blankenship reacts to the 4-strong look from the Bucs by getting over and taking the vertical. In truth, the ball should be complete if the throw is earlier but it's still a lovely… pic.twitter.com/Wtis1DrDvH— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
Fletcher Cox must be absolutely loving this year. Honestly, what else could a 3-technique want? When he’s next to Jordan Davis, he knows he will get a good matchup because Jordan Davis just takes up so much attention and will command double teams. And when he’s next to Jalen Carter, he’s probably going to get a chance to get a good one-on-one matchup and a quarterback who is already panicking under pressure from Carter! He must be loving it right now. The two Georgia guys were unbelievable in this game, and it’s only Week 3!!
8) Jalen Carter, my goodness. I still can't quite believe the Eagles got him at 9. He just shrugs aside the guard with ease to avoid the double team, then shoves the center back into the QB. Cox has also had 3 really good weeks and it appears the rotation is helping everyone. pic.twitter.com/VsHSU6fbtB— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
This is my favorite Jordan Davis play of the whole game. This play looks like he’s playing against a kid. He just holds him off with one hand and it looks legitimately easy. Then, when he needs to get rid of the guy and get after the ball carrier, he just shoves him off him. This play is a joke.
9) Once again, how good are the Eagles run fits? It's just good disciplined team defense to shut down all gaps. There's nowhere for the RB to go. Look how easily Jordan Davis holds the LG off him with one hand... it's almost embarrassing for the guard. The Bucs simply couldn't… pic.twitter.com/yw0NTkiDyF— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
This looks like the type of coverage rep I used to love watching last year. This is the good stuff if you like zone-match coverage like me. No one is open, there’s good communication, and you force the quarterback into just getting rid of the football. With how important communication is on this defense, I think it’s important that the Eagles stay healthy in the secondary because it was obvious how much better this week was than last week.
10) Love this. Another two-high rotation to cover 3 match and the communication and coverage is excellent. I think the decision to move Bradberry to the slot and Jobe outside certainly worked out overall. pic.twitter.com/dvZgxzGJDu— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
Just watch this play over and over again. This play is AMAZING. The whole right side of the Bucs’ offensive line just ends up on the ground in their own end zone. The strength on show from Jordan Davis and Jalen Carter is ridiculous. I watched this play at least 20 times. I love it.
This has been a very positive article but I do need to have a quick moan... what were the Eagles thinking when they cut Nicholas Morrow? I watched him closely in the offseason and liked his film and he has played really well since the injury to Nakobe Dean. He’s nothing special, but he is a perfectly fine starting linebacker in this league. Just look at how quickly he gets downhill here and avoids the lineman to make the tackle for the safety. Beautiful.
11) Last one... is this my favorite play ever? Maybe. The strength of Carter and Davis is absurd and they BOTH blow up their double teams. Watch Nicholas Morrow fly downhill too and hurdle the lineman to make the tackle in the end zone! This is beautiful and summed up the Eagles… pic.twitter.com/QgaNJ6KQKP— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) September 27, 2023
- The Eagles used Morrow as the linebacker in DIME over Cunningham which made a lot of sense.
- I saw a little more of Nolan Smith in this game, but I still think he’s a big work in progress. I think when he does play more, he’s going to drop into coverage and blitz as a linebacker a lot.
- Haason Reddick isn’t doing too much yet, but he is still flying around the ball and I think the production is going to come soon.
- I have to end with this...
That’ll do for this week, thanks for the comments and feedback as always!