This was a brutal way to end the Eagles’ season. I know I shouldn’t say this, but if you can’t face reading this one right now, I do not blame you in the slightest. I’d normally say this at the end of the post but thank you all so much for reading and commenting on these posts all year. I couldn’t do this without your support, so it’s massively appreciated. I’ll be here all offseason as always!
Full disclosure: I’m writing this whilst having no idea what is happening to Nick Sirianni and the coaching staff. So I won’t speculate, this article is just about pointing out what went wrong (and one or two positives).
Where do I even begin with this game? How a coaching staff can prepare a team so poorly is beyond me. It was a disaster from start to finish. The first 3rd down of the game sums up this entire offense right now. This play highlights all the faults with the Eagles. The Eagles are expecting pressure, and you can see that Jalen Hurts alerted to this when he sees the pressure look from the Bucs. The Eagles’ adjustment is to leave the free rusher unblocked to run four verts to try and take a shot down the field. I knew the Eagles were going to lose after this one. It’s like the coaching staff didn’t even bother to try and fix the issues against pressure. This is unbelievably bad and it’s the same thing we have seen all season. No motion. No stacks. No bunches. Just nothing. The Eagles' obsession with creating explosive plays, rather than just moving the chains on 3rd and 2, just stinks of arrogance to me. This team thinks they are better than they are. NFL defenses can play, and there’s no shame in picking up 3 yards on 3rd and 2. That isn’t good enough for this team though. They think they are good enough to just throw it up and win one-on-one matchups. Hubris and arrogance have been the fatal flaw of this coaching staff all season. They don’t bother adjusting because they think they are better than everyone else. It’s incredibly frustrating. This team is not better than everyone else, and they deserved to lose. I try to remain rational in these articles but... 4 verts on 3rd and 2? Really? This was the plan?
Eagles Offense All22 thread vs. Bucs. 1) This was the play that broke me. It's arrogance, laziness, and just all around terrible. 3rd and 2. The Eagles audible to 4 verts because they are obsessed with explosive plays and convinced that they are better than the other team. pic.twitter.com/6xt3ktiN1q— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
Then we get to the next drive, and the Eagles have 3rd and short again. At least they tried to throw a short pass this time, so that’s progress. Sadly, they still make it easy for the defense by using no motion, stacks, or bunches so they have to hope that their receivers can get open. If we are being honest, this isn’t a great play by Dallas Goedert and it should have been a 1st down. Goedert has had a disappointing season, but he isn't alone.
2) At least this time the Eagles try a short pass. Still, no motion, no stacks, no bunches, no creativity. Nothing. Just asking your guys to win and your quarterback to throw with a free rusher in his face. Over and over again. I'd be embarrassed as a coach watching this film… pic.twitter.com/sIdPlouvxm— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
The RPO game has been used sporadically all season long, but I have never felt that the Eagles truly committed to it and ran it well consistently. This should be the bread and butter of the Eagles’ offense. I hope they look at expanding this part of their game next year.
3) Even when the Eagles don't run it well, the threat of the run game has an impact. I'm stunned we didn't see more RPOs considering the aggressiveness of the Bucs. This should be a staple of the offense. pic.twitter.com/4DRV1YyuK4— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
Honestly, this stuff is so so frustrating. On the whiteboard, isolating your best receiver one-on-one on a comeback is fine. But in reality, it’s just really badly designed. It makes DeVonta Smith and Hurts look bad, but they don’t have a chance in reality. The Bucs know they are bringing pressure, so the cornerback doesn’t need to respect the deep shot. You can’t run a comeback against a cornerback who isn’t respecting the deep shot. You are not putting your players in a position to succeed. This offense has relied on talent for too long, and your players can only bail out a bad scheme for so long. Without AJ Brown, this scheme was made to look amateurish against a really good defensive coach in Todd Bowles. The coaching staff deserves the blame for this one, not the players.
4) It's so frustrating. It's just hoping your offensive playmakers are going to win one-on-one. Just no creativity at all. DeVonta Smith doesn't have a chance because the CB doesn't have to respect the vertical shot as he knows Hurts is getting pressured quickly. At least put… pic.twitter.com/cckCojszMX— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
What is this? Seriously? This coaching staff cannot design a screen play. The one screen that has worked this week, is the angle screen to D’Andre Swift, and they haven’t run it for about a month! How embarrassing is this play for an NFL offense to run in the playoffs? This is a bad look.
5) I've said how bad the Eagles are at the basics for a while. This is not just offensive design, it's coaching. Fundamentals. This would embarrass most highschool coaches. What is this? Seriously? What do they work on in practice? The Eagles also keep throwing these screens… pic.twitter.com/61A3fNzDSg— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
I don’t want to entertain any serious criticism about Hurts right now. He was excellent for large parts of the season and was not given a chance to succeed this week due to the design of the offense. I have been as critical of anyone of Hurts in the past, and have doubted his ability to be a top 10 franchise quarterback, but I think he has proven that over time. I will write more about Hurts in the offseason, but I think some of the criticism of him the past few weeks has been absurd. The coaching staff haven’t given him a real chance in recent weeks.
6) Just a reminder that Hurts can sling it. This is a dime and a great route by Smith. When the Eagles went 12 personnel, the Bucs matched with only 3 DBs. The Eagles coaching staff should have noticed this and thrown the ball consistently from 12 personnel. pic.twitter.com/WnYzcKw23Z— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
The inability of the Eagles coaching staff to adjust in this game was terrible. Nearly every time the Eagles went 12 personnel, the Bucs were incredibly aggressive and matched with a 6-2 front and only used 3 defensive backs. They were daring the Eagles to throw, as they did in the clip above. The Bucs do not normally play this front, so this was something the Eagles were not expecting. The Eagles should have continued to use 12 personnel, and take advantage of the Bucs personnel and throw it. Play-action from pistol would have been perfect for this. Instead of this, they continued to run it nearly every time they lined up in 12 personnel and pistol and the running game didn’t stand a chance. The Eagles’ offense is so predictable, and Todd Bowles took full advantage of this. I want the Eagles to commit to the running game, but running into a 6-2 front over and over again is ridiculous.
7) Instead, what did the Eagles do? Repeatedly line up in pistol and 12 personnel and run it against the Bucs 6-2 fronts. I want the Eagles to run the ball more, but not against this front!! The Bucs are daring you to throw against this 6-2 front, and the Eagles predictably ran… pic.twitter.com/IaMHoPvcHv— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
The Eagles had a plan for the blitz. The plan was reliant on the Eagles wide receivers winning one-on-one matchups, Hurts delivering the ball before the free rusher got to him, and the Eagles therefore creating explosive plays. That’s not a serious plan for a serious NFL offense to spend a week coming up with. Even if you are going to run this play, why not help your receiver by putting him in motion? Why not create a natural rub by running something like a post/wheel to create some separation? The coaching staff just relies on the players to make the plays on the whiteboard work. I hate being critical of coaches, and those of you who have read my work for a while know that I am rarely too critical of coaches, but the Eagles' plan against the blitz this week was a complete embarrassment. It stinks of arrogance and a belief that the Eagles are better than everyone else.
8) I hate it when people say the Eagles don't have a plan for the blitz. This IS the plan. It's a plan that revolves around winning one-on-one matchups and creating explosive plays because this coaching staff thinks this team is too good to fail. I'm telling you, it's pure… pic.twitter.com/TZy3TmXLAM— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
Seriously, how many plays do the Eagles call that just have vertical routes? There are so many comebacks and go routes and nothing that stretches the defense horizontally. What do you want Hurts to do on plays like this?
9) Those who are really criticizing Hurts in this one... Tell me what you want him to do? What part of this play call is setting him up for success? The Eagles coaching staff failed him and the offense in this game. I am not someone who will always defend Hurts but come on. The… pic.twitter.com/wgznFwzuRb— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
I’ve got nothing to say about this play. Just watch it. Imagine running this in a playoff game and thinking this is a serious answer against the blitz. It’s embarrassing.
10) My exit interview to Nick Sirianni and Brian Johnson: put this play on repeat and ask them to explain it. It's laughable. This was the 'we've run out of ideas against the blitz so we are just going to check it down' part of the game. This is beyond bad. pic.twitter.com/mHFT6NG27X— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
This was a terrible play by Hurts. I’m not saying that he doesn’t deserve any blame for this one. But can you blame him for trying to create something and make a play? This is what quarterbacks do when they have to try to create something out of nothing because the coaching staff has failed to provide them with easy answers.
11) Don't get me wrong, this play is on the QB. Hurts can't take a safety here. But can you blame the guy for pressing and trying to create something? It's another play where the receivers all run in straight lines. There's no crossing, no motion, no horizontal stretch. I'm… pic.twitter.com/ojsXZv4Se2— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
I’m fed up with criticism that is aimed towards Hurts and not the coaching staff this week. So, I’m going to end with this play. Jalen Hurts is 25 years old and went toe-to-toe with the best quarterback in the NFL last year in the Super Bowl. The guy can play. Whatever happens with the coaching staff, Hurts needs our support and he needs to be supported by a proper scheme that provides him with answers. If I see the same issues with a new offensive identity, then we can have a conversation about where Hurts ranks in the NFL. This is not the week for that conversation. The offensive design this week did not give him a chance.
12) I'm ending it with a good Hurts play, just to cheer myself up. Are we counting this as a throw to the middle of the field?! Get this QB in a proper offense. pic.twitter.com/jTU851k4jF— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) January 17, 2024
Thank you so much for checking these out every week. I appreciate every single one of you. I am sorry the tone was so negative towards the end, but I can only comment on what I see!