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All-22 recaps of each game every week. To any new fans here, welcome and I hope you enjoy the analysis provided. To my loyal followers, welcome back. Let’s get started.
The Eagles came away with a 34-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one it what could best be described as an erratic and up and down performance. Miscues on defense and missed opportunities on offense made this game much closer than it should have been (and that’s saying something considering the Eagles won by 17 points). I’ll start off with the negative plays and then finish with the positive plays to show how the Eagles came away with the win.
Offensively, quarterback Nick Foles did not look comfortable early on and just did not look like he was seeing the field clearly as he took a few bad sacks. The Jaguars played zone defense on a majority of the Eagles’ passing plays, and I think that caught Foles and the coaching staff off guard as they may have been expecting to see more man coverage. Playing so much zone defense can be a risky proposition against the Eagles’ high tempo offense. With plays being run so quickly, it forces the defensive players to really be on the ball and focused. With a zone defense, one guy being in the wrong spot can result in a huge play being given up. That happened multiple times this game, it just so happens that the Eagles weren’t able to capitalize on all of them. Here were a few instances where the Eagles left big plays on the field.
This first play comes from midway through the first quarter. A blown assignment results in wide receiver Jeremy Maclin running free downfield, but Foles doesn’t see him and ends up taking a bad sack and fumbling the ball.
This next play comes from the third quarter. Once again Maclin is going to be open on a fly route, but Foles doesn’t pull the trigger. To make matters worse, Cooper ends up being left completely uncovered as Foles scrambles to his left. The end result is a five yard pass to runningback LeSean McCoy, but it could have been much more.
Now onto some positive plays. The Eagles went back to the same play I showed above where Foles missed Matthews on the deep slant. This time, it’s linebacker Telvin Smith who bites on the playaction fake, opening up a throwing lane for Foles to hit Matthews right in stride for a 30 yard gain. Unfortunately, this drive ended with Foles throwing an interception in the red zone.
With the Eagles trailing 17-0 early in the third quarter, a Darren Sproles 49 yard touchdown run sparked their comeback. This play highlighted the importance of the Eagles’ versatility on offense as well as showed why defending against a high tempo offense can be so difficult. On the play leading up to Sproles’ touchdown run, it was third down and nine to go. The Jaguars were in a nickle package to defend against the pass. The Eagles ran a screen pass to Sproles which resulted in an eight yard gain, setting up a fourth and one. The Eagles immediately got lined up without subbing, meaning that the Jaguars could not sub out of their nickle package. So now it’s fourth down and one yard to go and the Eagles have called a run right up the middle. The Jaguars are left defending a short yardage run play with the same package of players that were on the field to defend against a third and long situation. This puts them at a huge disadvantage because offensively, the Eagles have no problem running an inside zone run with the same package of players that was on the field for third down. To make matters even worse for the Jaguars, not only do not they not have a package on the field suitable for the situation, but the Jaguars coaches had little time to get a play in to their defense and the defenders have little time to get properly lined up as only 15 seconds elapsed from the time Sproles was tackled to the time that the Eagles offense was lined up to run the next play. Here is the play:
The Eagles made it a three point game on the very next drive when Foles hit tight end Zach Ertz on a seam route for a 25 yard touchdown on 3rd down. Ertz runs his route straight downfield getting in between linebackers Paul Posluszny and Telvin Smith, and Foles does a good job with the timing of his throw to drop it into Ertz before the safeties can make a play on the ball.
This next play lead to the Eagles tying up the game on a 51-yard field goal from rookie kicker Cody Parkey. Foles is able to freeze linebacker Posluszny with a play-action fake just long enough to open up a throwing lane as Ertz runs his seam route downfield splitting linebackers Posluszny and LaRoy Reynolds. The result is a 26-yard gain that puts the Eagles in field goal range.
On the Eagles’ first play of their very next drive, they run a play very similar to the one shown above (albeit from a slightly different formation). Once again the play starts off with a play-action fake and Zach Ertz is going to run a seam route with Maclin running a fly route next to him. The Jaguars are in zone defense with safety Chris Prosinski as the single high safety. As he sees the play develop, he charges forward towards Ertz thinking that the play is going to him again. By doing this, he abandons his deep coverage responsibility, and Maclin is left uncovered as he runs down the field. The result is a 68-yard touchdown pass.
Defensively, things started off a little shaky for the Eagles. The offense didn’t do the defense any favors by turning the ball over in their own zone, but the defense still allowed two 20+ yard touchdowns to undrafted free agent receiver Allen Hurns.
This play is the first touchdown pass to Allen Hurns. As Hurns runs downfield and gets into his post route, cornerback Cary Williams takes an outside position and it looks as if he’s expecting safety Nate Allen to have deep help to the inside. However, Allen steps forward to cut off tight end Mercedes Lewis on an out route, which opens up a window downfield for quarterback Chad Henne to lead Hurns to the end zone for the touchdown.
Two plays after the Eagles turned the ball over for the second time in their own zone, Henne connects with Hurns again for a 21-yard touchdown. Safety Malcolm Jenkins is going to move to his left after the snap as he’s reading the bubble screen to the slot receiver, however this opens up a window for Henne to throw to Hurns on a deep slant route, and Hurns picks up some yards after the catch to get into the endzone.
The Eagles’ defense settled down as they only allowed three more points for the rest of the game, and this played a huge part in their come from behind victory. One of the key factors to the defense’s success for the rest of the game was their ability to get off the field on third down. This was an area they struggled with in 2013 so it was good to see them show some early improvements here. The Eagles were able to stymie the Jaguars on third down as they stopped them from picking up a first down on 12 of their 14 third down tries. Here are a few third down plays from the game.
This first play comes from late in the first quarter on a third down and ten. Safety Nate Allen is going to come on a blitz, and Trent Cole (lined up as a defensive end on this play) is going to fake a rush but then drop back into coverage. Cole does an excellent job of selling the rush, causing left tackle Luke Joeckel to completely miss Allen as he runs by. Allen is able to get to Henne and knock the ball out of his hands which goes into the stat book as a nine-yard sack.
The Eagles defense stops running back Toby Gerhart from converting this play on third and one. Nose tackle Benny Logan does a great job of holding his ground and linebacker Conner Barwin does a an excellent job of crashing into tight end Mercedes Lewis, pushing him into the backfield to clog up the hole.
The Eagles were able to stop the Jaguars from converting another third-and-one in the second quarter. Newly acquired defensive end Brandon Bair does an excellent job of holding the point of attack on this play as he’s being blocked by two offensive linemen. Bair not only holds his ground against two blockers on this play, but actually surges through and ends up making the tackle with linebacker DeMeco Ryans coming in at the end to clean up any mess.
That does it for this week’s All-22 review. The Eagles head to Indianapolis for a Monday night showdown this week as the Colts look to rebound from their week one loss to the Denver Broncos. Be sure to check in during the week for my All-22 review of that game. You can also click the “follow” button on the right side of this page and you will get an email notification when it is up.