Eagles Film Review: Carson Wentz faces tough test vs. deceptive Panthers' defense

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Eagles Film Review: Carson Wentz faces tough test vs. deceptive Panthers' defense

Carson Wentz has been great through the first five games of the season. In the sixth, he will see something from the Panthers' defense that could confuse him if he's not ready. Unlike the Cardinals, the Panthers refuse to show their hand (the coverage they are in) early. Here is an example:

Under the arrow is Panthers safety Colin Jones. With Jones' middle-of-the-field alignment, an opposing quarterback could diagnose the defense as either cover 0, 1, or 3. Cover 0 and 1 are man-to-man coverage; Cover 3 is zone-coverage.

Fast forward to the top of Matt Stafford’s dropback and the Panthers disguise their coverage and change into a Cover 2 after the snap. In that coverage, Carolina has five defenders (blue circles) cover all shallow routes and each safety (yellow circles) is responsible for half of the field, covering all deep routes. A quarterback's reads are different when the defense shows Cover 2, as opposed to cover 0, 1 or 3.

Based off the pre-snap read, the slot receiver (1) on the out-route is the primary read. After the snap, Carolina shifts into Cover 2. If that ball is thrown, the corner who's responsible for the flat (anything to his side that is within five yards of the line of scrimmage) can easily undercut the out-route and turn it into a defensive touchdown. Stafford is a skilled vet, so he does not take the cheese the defense is hanging in front of him. He delivers a perfect ball to the outside receiver on a fly-route in the sweet spot of Cover 2, where it is a tough play for the safety to make from the near hash.

Wentz has seen this in his film study this week. Tonight, he will have to focus not on how the defense lines up but what it does once the ball is snapped.

Eagles Film Review: Trusting Carson Wentz more at line of scrimmage

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Eagles Film Review: Trusting Carson Wentz more at line of scrimmage

On Monday, after the Eagles' 34-7 win over the Cardinals, head coach Doug Pederson spoke of a system he and Carson Wentz use called the "Take It System."

The basis of this is pretty simple. Take what the defense is giving you. Once you identify a possible weakness, the quarterback can audible on the fly.

Pederson is still bringing his quarterback along slowly, but on Sunday, he showed that with every game, he's becoming more confident in not just the physical ability of Wentz but also Wentz's in his decision making.

On this Trey Burton touchdown, the Eagles scored because Wentz was able to check to something he liked based on the Cardinals' coverage.

Here, you can see Wentz looking directly at Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu's position on the field indicates the Cardinals are either in man coverage or cover 3. Patrick Peterson, at the bottom of the screen, is starring directly at Torrey Smith, which is the indicator it's not cover 3 but man to man. 

Mathieu is the free safety. He roams the field, reading Wentz's eyes. His alignment on the right hash of the field makes it a tough play on any ball thrown to the far left of the end zone.

Wentz makes an audible to a route combination the Eagles have scored on multiple times this season. The fade route from the slot receiver position. In this case, it is Burton matchup up on Deone Bucannon. That matchup is not heavily favored in any way, but what gives Burton an advantage is the amount of space he has to work with.

That space is a result of the Cardinals' being in man coverage, meaning Peterson has to mirror what the outside receiver (Smith) does. That is why the play is a man-coverage beater and why Wentz checked to the route combination.

All Burton has to do is get a good release off the line to have a chance. He knocks Bucannon's hands down off the line, immediately gaining the advantage.

The result? One of four touchdown passes for Wentz.

After the game, Wentz said, "The game is slowing down." 

That is a credit to Pederson's development of his franchise QB. For that, and the convincing win Sunday, Pederson gets an A.

Bill Griggs is a producer for "Eagles Extra" who also played college football at Delaware State.

Eagles Film Review: How the run game erupted against the Chargers

Eagles Film Review: How the run game erupted against the Chargers

In his press conference earlier in the week Doug Pederson said, as a team, “every week you go in and try to establish your run game.” Last week, the Eagles did this by utilizing a zone run scheme.

The reason: The Chargers' defense under Anthony Lynn and Gus Bradley specializes in slanting defensive linemen one direction while the linebackers head the opposite direction to fill running lanes. A man-to-man blocking scheme against this type of scheme could mean a long day for the best of offensive lines. To lighten the load on his hogs up front, Pederson gave the Chargers defense a heavy dose of zone runs. 

There are some keys in the zone-blocking scheme that the Eagles executed nicely in Week 4.

Here, in the beginning of the second quarter, is an example of a zone run using the technique called pin and pull. The guard and tackle pin down their side of the line. On the backside, whichever player is uncovered with no defender in front of him will pull around the formation and block the first opposite color he sees. 

Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks (pointed out with black arrows) are your pin-down men. Chance Warmack is your pulling man with the yellow arrow.

With Johnson squarely in front of his man, Brooks sealing off the defensive tackle and working to the second level and Warmack on the kick-out block, LeGarrette Blount is able to pick his running lane and go for 10 yards.


With this zone scheme, you have to imagine a railroad laid down on the line of scrimmage going from sideline to sideline. Each blocker's job within the box is to move themselves and anyone in front of them left or right down the line of scrimmage depending on the play call. Here the play call is to the left.

You see that each blocker's first steps are to the left, where the play is headed. Each blocker is responsible for an area, not a man. The objective is to keep the defensive line moving, allowing the running back to pick a lane to hit.

Now, this particular play was a 5-yard loss, but it's good to show why keeping your shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage is important. Stefen Wisniewski turns his shoulders to seal off the defensive tackle, but that opens up a gap for a linebacker to shoot, resulting in a negative play for the Eagles.


This, along with pin and pull, provided Pederson with his most running success Sunday. Here, on first down midway through the second quarter, the Chargers have both defensive tackles either shading one side of an Eagles' lineman or directly in a gap.

The Eagles do a great job of collapsing both defensive tackles, creating multiple lanes for Blount to run through.