FFODC Previews The Eagles

WHAT Skins (3-2) vs Eagles (5-1)
WHERE Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
WHEN Monday, October 23, 8:30 PM
THE LINE  Skins +4.5 (O/U: 49)
WEATHER  H: 77, L: 64; Partly Cloudy

The Eagles offense is coached by three former quarterbacks in HC Doug Pederson, OC Frank Reich (Terp), and QB Coach John DeFilippo.

Pederson is an Andy Reid disciple so we can expect a healthy dose of option football and small wide receivers blessed with smurf speed.  Reich was responsible for Phillip Rivers’ best years (and yes he’s the guy who led the biggest comebacks in college and the NFL) and DeFilippo somehow managed to eek out a Pro Bowl tight end in 2015 with Johny Manziel and Josh McCown at quarterback.

All three heads put together generate an attack that looks to create confusion with mesh routes (air raid), stretching of defensive flat zones (west coast), and dual threat quarterbacks that force you to keep one guy protecting a keeper or bootleg at all times (option.)  So basically this is Kansas City’s offense all over again, except it’s Philly so the concepts aren’t clever, they’re just prickish and annoying.

Run Defense vs the Eagles

Wham:  In week 1 the Eagles ran a package of “wham” runs.  Basically a wham run allows for 1-2 offensive lineman to release immediately into the linebackers, creating a 200 pound mismatch and lots of room for the running back to run.  From what I have seen, they use wham with Blount at running back probably because it helps him build up a head of steam and do this:

LeGarrette Blount has averaged 4.9 yards AFTER CONTACT per carry in 2017. Only 8 running backs currently average 4.9 yards PER CARRY

It’s a deception play that Ioannidis was able to recognize, while Allen was not.  The result was a series of runs that yielded 6 yards per carry:

It’s a play that our offense uses, so whoever replaces Allen on Monday will have practiced against it.  Ioannidis shut this down by holding onto the lineman (legally, of course) who were trying to release to the linebacker level; that’s the cliff notes on how to beat it.

Otherwise, the Eagles core run package versus the 3-4 consists of inside and outside zone.  How we do will probably come down to how Allen’s replacement (McClain/McGee/Hood/Francis) performs.

Versus DBs:  With the perimeter runs, the 49ers had success targeting our secondary by catching us off-balance with motion:

Or targeting Baushaud Breeland in the run game:

Philly saw that and probably wants a shot at our DBs as well.  They have a couple of formations designed to target DBs, a twins formation like San Francisco used:

And a 3 tight end formation that will force our corners to stick their nose in the run game:

Zone Reads:  Another formation they like to roll out is a bunch formation split out wide which allows the QB lots of room if he keeps on a read option:

against Preston Smith this has no chance of working; he’s shown the athleticism to shut down both the quarterback and running back by himself (see: Terrelle Pryor and Cleveland in 2016.)  But what about Junior Galette and rookie Ryan Anderson?

Key Matchups:


If Breeland can’t go, rookie Fabian Moreau will most likely get the start and we have no idea how willing he is to take on pulling lineman and tight ends.  Best case scenario is for us to put DJ over the tight end side whenever possible.


Outside zone was Jonathan Allen’s specialty, it will be trial by fire as we try to find our #2 DT next to Ioannidis.  Versus Nickel, the Eagles like to play a 3 on 2 game with their left guard, left tackle and tight end vs the defensive end and linebacker.  They let their center try to reach/hook the defensive tackle, if he’s successful there is a big run in the making.

Hood has lost his swag the last couple of weeks as Centers have been dominating him one on one.  If that happens this week there will be huge alleys for running backs to cutback into.  Nose tackles are paid to dominate centers and stalemate against double teams at the very least.  If Hood can’t win, it will be up to newcomer AJ Francis, Stacy McGee (not his natural position) or Terrell McClain to take over.


We know Smith can handle them, but does Galette have the discipline–he tends to get up field and lose contain–and does Anderson have the eyes to contain zone reads?  No false steps allowed with the amount of space the Eagle’s formations will put them in.

Pass Defense vs the Eagles



Trips:  Three receivers to one side of the field is the Eagles base formation, they love to run every route they can from it and occasionally pound it up the middle.  The 3×1 formation spreads defenses out creating well defined mismatches.

It can put our rookie FS Montae Nicholson alone with deep coverage.  To exploit that, the Eagles have run a cross/post route combo which puts the Free Safety in conflict:

And attacked the FS directly with the inside receiver:

To the single receiver side the Eagles like to line up either 6’3 218 pound WR Alshon Jeffery or 6’5 250 pound TE Zach Ertz.

Related to that, Quinton Dunbar likes to “press and go”:

Can he get away with that technique versus guys who are Megatron clones?

2×2:  In week 1 they deployed a lot of 2×2 formations which put a safety one on one with Zach Ertz in the middle of the field, and they found success with Ertz vs Everett.  But ever since then, they have been rolling with Trips (3×1) and it’s been working for them.

Bubble Screens:  They have been calling bubble screens out of trips about three to four times a game in an effort to bait aggressive coverage and then attack deep.

FWIW: the Cardinals ID’d two formations that the Eagles liked to run the bubble out of, one is with the backup TE lined up as the #2 receiver:

with the other being Agholor lined up in the slot and Alshon Jeffery lined up outside him as the lead blocker; in both cases Arizona removed their OLB from the line and placed him over the trips side.

That being said, the screen is a play Kendall Fuller has blown up since week 1.  If they try it again, it will be in an effort to set up something over top like this slant (the underneath route isn’t a bubble, but same concept):


Key Matchups:


Trips formation puts us in a single high safety look which means Nicholson will have to win one-on-one matchups.  He is a rookie and you got 3 former quarterbacks on the coaching staff, I’d expect at least one or three deep shots thrown in his direction.


Dunbar has one thing he’s really good at, but I don’t think he’s faced guys this big on every snap.  It will be interesting to see if he keeps pressing at the line or backs off and lets his off-coverage skills do the work.

Three Predictions

  • McClain or Francis (they signed him for a specific reason) wins the Jonathan Allen job in our Nickel front
  • Nicholson gives up one big play
  • Wentz eludes 3 sacks.  Gruden loses his mind, anoints him the GOAT.

Skins 24-20, IF Breeland (or Norman?) starts.


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