The Eagles knew it was coming. They watched it on tape, they prepared for it in practice.
And they still didn’t stop it.
On the very first drive during Sunday’s 27-17 loss to the Giants, the Giants capped off their 85-yard march with a Daniel Jones 34-yard touchdown run on a read-option.
Sound familiar? Yep, just a few weeks earlier, Jones broke loose for an 80-yard gain on a similar play and the Giants put even more on tape. That’s what really frustrated Jim Schwartz.
“The defense broke down on that play,” Schwartz said. “You guys know I don’t assign individual blame. First game, it was a little bit of a surprise, they ran out of a formation we hadn’t seen before. But it was embarrassing in this game because they ran out of the exact same formation and we fit it wrong. The guy that’s supposed to be there for the quarterback wasn’t there. Nobody else got off any blocks and he made us pay with a touchdown.”
Schwartz won’t assign blame so it’s hard to know every player’s responsibility on this play but RDE Josh Sweat crashes very hard, which creates the running lane. The Eagles want their ends to be aggressive but Sweat certainly didn’t set the edge, either by lack of discipline or by scheme. T.J. Edwards on Tuesday took full responsibility for being out of position. He said his job is to get outside of his blocker and force the play inside; he didn't do that.
From there, Andrew Thomas gets a nice second-level block on Alex Singleton, Edwards (who started to crash too) gets blocked by a receiver and Jones is off to the races.
As a reminder, here’s that 80-yard run from Jones back in Week 7:
It’s not exactly the same formation but it’s another play where the Giants take advantage of the Eagles’ aggressive front. On this 80-yarder, Brandon Graham is the crashing end and Rodney McLeod gets blocked inside.
But that wasn’t even the only time in that game the Giants ran a read-option with Jones. They also put this play on tape with a similar look to what the Eagles saw on Sunday.
So the Eagles knew the read-option was coming on Sunday and then it came on the very first drive of the game and they still didn’t stop it.
By the end of the afternoon, Jones was the Giants’ leading rusher with 64 yards and now has 156 rushing yards against the Eagles in two games this season.
On Sunday, the margin for error was just too small. The Eagles’ offense was able to muster just 17 points and the Eagles’ defense gave up 14 points on the first two drives of the game. Schwartz is right: Giving up a 34-yard scamper to Jones on a play they all knew was coming is simply embarrassing.
“There [were] a lot of those plays our guys executed very well but particularly early in that game on that first drive we weren't up to that challenge and it cost us,” Schwartz said. “The way we started that game had a lot to do with the final result of that game.”