All 22 Review: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Indianapolis Colts

For the second straight week, the Philadelphia Eagles found themselves trailing in a game going into halftime, and for the second straight week the Eagles pulled off a dramatic fourth quarter comeback. Unlike last week’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars where the Eagles couldn’t move the ball in the first half, the Eagles put up 228 yards of offense Monday night against the Colts. The “tale of two halves” theme this week in the end came down to red zone efficiency.

In the first half the Eagles and Colts offenses both got into scoring range three times. However, the Eagles came away with 6 points on those three drives while the Colts came away with 17 points. In the second half, leading up to each team’s final drive they once again got into scoring range three times. This time, the Eagles came away with 21 points while the Colts scored 10, making it a 27-27 game. And then on the Colt’s last drive the Eagles defense forced them to go three and out, and subsequently the Eagles offense drove down the field for the game winning field goal to win 30-27.

This week, I’ll take a look at some of the key factors of the game that lead to the Eagles’ victory.

As noted above, the Eagles had difficulties in the red zone in the first half as they failed to finish drives with touchdowns. In the red zone, the importance of good playcalling and execution are heightened as the slightest mistake can result in a negative play and be the difference between scoring seven points or three.

The following play comes on the Eagles’ first drive on second and goal from the twelve yard line. The Eagles have a numbers advantage on this play as the Colts only have four defenders in the box compared to the Eagles’ five blockers. This is the perfect scenario for the Eagles’ run game and should result in a sizable gain. However, a miscue along the offensive line results in middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson being left unblocked, and he makes the tackle on LeSean McCoy in the backfield.
01 redzone middle

Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles once gain found themselves down by the goal line, and once again a negative run on second down sets up a long third and goal situation. The Eagles run a toss play to McCoy, but this time the Colts have the numbers advantage as they have seven players to the strong side of the play and the Eagles only have six blockers. As a result, outside linebacker Erik Walden is going to be left unblocked to tackle McCoy for a four yard loss.
04 mccoy toss left redzone

In the first half, good playcalling and scheming got the Colts run game going as they ran multiple counters from behind an unbalanced line. As you’ll see on this play, the Colts have tight end Dwayne Allen lined up at left tackle and have moved left tackle Anthony Castonzo to the right side of the line. The Eagles respond by loading up the strong side of the line, leaving only Brandon Bair and Trent Cole to the weakside. However, the Colts end up running a counter to the weakside and open up a huge hole for running back Trent Richardson to run through for a 15 yard gain.
02 colts run unbalanced line 15 yard gain

Here is another example of the Colts getting a large gain off of a counter play with an unbalanced line. Once again the Eagles only have two players lined up on the weakside of the line. On this play, tight ends Dwayne Allen (83) and Jack Doyle (84) do a great job of sealing off linebackers Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans to allow Richardson to surge through the hole and pick up another 15 yard gain.
05 colts run unbalanced line 15 yards

The Eagles run defense settled down in the second half thanks to some halftime adjustments and great execution along the defensive line. As CSN Philly’s Geoff Mosher pointed out, the Colts picked up 100 yards on the ground on their first 18 carries (5.5 yards per carry), as compared to 49 yards on their last 16 carries (3 yards per carry).

On this play, nose tackle Benny Logan does an excellent job of getting penetration, shoving right guard Hugh Thornton into the backfield and then making the tackle on Richardson for a loss.
06 benny logan run stuff

Fletcher Cox displays some excellent effort and playmaking skills on this play as he forces a fumble on Trent Richardson. Once again, the Colts are in an unbalanced line and run a counter to the weakside. The Eagles are lined up just as they were in the first half, but this time Fletcher Cox is ready for the play that is about to happen. Watch as he throws left guard Jack Mewhort aside and then keeps his balance and fights through the block attempt from Dwayne Allen before getting into the backfield and punching the ball out of Richardson’s hands. This was an amazing play by Cox.
07 fletcher cox forced fumble

On this next play, the Colts are again lined up in an unbalanced line, but this time they run a counter play to the strong side of the line. As the play develops, it looks like the Colts have a numbers advantage as they have seven blockers to the Eagles five defenders, but Cedric Thornton and Benny Logan do a great job of holding their ground and Mychal Kendricks crashes into guard Jack Mewhort to clog up the hole.
09 thornton and logan stuff

I’ll finish up this week’s review by focusing on the star of the Eagles’ offense from Monday night, newly acquired running back Darren Sproles.

This play shows why Darren Sproles is such a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses. The Eagles come out with two tight ends, two receivers, and Sproles in the backfield. The Colts respond by coming out in their base 3-4 defense and are in man coverage. This leaves Sproles one on one with linebacker Josh McNary. Sproles is going to come out of the backfield and run an angle route across the field and Foles does a great job of being able to hit him in stride even as he’s being tackled around the legs. Look at how much space Sproles has in front of him as he catches this pass. The two closest defenders to Sproles who are actually aware that Sproles even has the ball are over 20 yards away. Wide receiver Riley Cooper continues his route downfield which causes the cornerback covering him to follow him all the way, effectively taking himself out of the play.

03 sproles 57 yard catch

Sproles scores a touchdown on this 19 yard run off an inside zone play to make it a 20-20 game late in the third quarter. The Colts over commit to the play side leaving the back side wide open for Sproles to bounce this run outside. Sproles puts a move on safety Mike Adams and then is able to run to the inside of Jeremy Maclin as he does a great job of blocking cornerback Greg Toler. Sproles then pinballs his way to the end zone bouncing off five tackle attempts.
08 sproles td run

Sproles set up the game tying touchdown on this play as he takes a screen pass 51 yards down to the Colts six yard line. This play all starts with the offensive line and Sproles not selling the fact that they are about to run a screen. The offensive line gets the defensive line behind them and out of the play. This leaves center Jason Kelce and guards Todd Herramins and Dennis Kelly to get down the field, and the Colts only have two defenders in position to make a play. This frees up Kelce to get further downfield to lay a block on D’Qwell Jackson to spring Sproles for even more yards. Great playcall and great execution.

10 sproles screen

The last play of this week’s All-22 review is the screen pass to Sproles that sets up the game winning touchdown. The Eagles put McCoy and Sproles on the field at the same time on this play, forcing the Colts to play a game of pick your poison. As you can see, at the snap of the ball all six Colts defenders are focused on McCoy in the backfield. This leaves only linebacker Josh McNary to focus on Sproles. Tight end Zach Ertz puts a block on McNary, allowing Sproles to burst by the line of scrimmage and Jason Kelce gets downfield to block cornerback/safety Darius Butler to pick up an additional 10 yards.
11 sproles quick screen

That does it for this week’s All-22 review. The Washington Redskins come to Philadelphia this Sunday as the Eagles try to extend their record to 3-0 in their first NFC East game of the season.

Check back in next week and don’t forget to click the “follow” button on the right hand of the page in order to get email updates whenever a post is made on this site.

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All-22 Review: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

Welcome back to the NFL regular season Eagles fans. Here at Inside The Eagles, I’ll be providing you with
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.
02 Foles fumble maclin open

On this next play, Foles is able to freeze linebacker Geno Hayes with a playaction fake, but then is off the mark on his throw to wide receiver Jordan Matthews who gets open on a deep slant.
04 foles misses matthews

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.
08 maclin and cooper open

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.
05 foles hits matthews

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:
06 sproles td run

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.
07 ertz TD

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.
09 ertz playaction

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.
10 maclin td

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.
01 allen deep TD

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.
03 jenkins bites on td

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.
def 01 allen 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.
def 02 3rd down stop

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.
def 03 blair stop on 3rd and 1

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.