eagles film review

Eagles film review: Fletcher Cox was an absolute menace against the Bears

Eagles film review: Fletcher Cox was an absolute menace against the Bears

Early in the season, as he recovered from offseason toe surgery, it was clear that Fletcher Cox simply wasn’t himself. 

Guess what? He’s back.

He’s back in a big way. Even though his stat line didn’t jump off the page — two tackles, one quarterback hit — the Eagles’ All-Pro defensive tackle was a one-man wrecking crew against the Bears on Sunday, despite facing constant double teams. 

And it started with the first series of the game. 

“I was like, ‘Boy, you are on because you hit the quarterback on the first pass rush,’” Brandon Graham said. “That’s Fletch being Fletch. I’m glad Fletch back at it.”

This first play is actually the second play from scrimmage in the game. Most of what I’m going to show you are pass rush plays from Cox, but he’s equally as dominant in the run game. On this play, he's at LDT and sees the double team and uses his get-off to split it. Then, he drives the right tackle back into the running back David Montgomery, giving the rookie nowhere to go. There might have been a brief hole for Montgomery if Cox didn’t blow up the line. 

Montgomery gets tackled for a three-yard loss. This brings up a 3rd-and-9. 

On third down, the Eagles show blitz and Cox lines up over the center. With the blitz, the Bears can’t double cox, so he’s going 1-on-1 against center James Daniels. Poor James Daniels. Cox puts the 6-foot-3, 305-pound Daniels on roller skates. Mitchell Trubisky knows he has to deliver the ball quickly, but doesn’t get much on the throw thanks to the pressure. He throws it off his back foot and it’s incomplete. The Eagles’ defense gets a quick 3-and-out thanks to Cox. 

This is the most shocking play of the day from Cox and it comes on the Bears’ second drive. Here he is casually tossing a 326-pound guard out of his way with his right paw. 

The right guard, Rashaad Coward, barely slows Cox down enough to allow his help to get there. (Meanwhile, Anthony Rush does a pretty good job with his 1-on-1 created by the Cox double team.) Trubisky sees the carnage in front of him and tries to flee the pocket, but Brandon Graham was waiting for him. Graham gets the sack, but Cox deserves an assist. 

This play comes on a 3rd-and-8 in the second quarter, you’ll see the overload on the left side of the line with Cox, Graham and Derek Barnett and, again, the Eagles show blitz, which means 1-on-1s. Barnett, from his LDE position, loops inside and comes unblocked. But what’s fun about this play is that Cox almost makes it to the quarterback at the same time as he goes through an offensive lineman. Somehow Barnett missed this sack, but Josh Sweat is ready to clean up. 

Later in the second quarter, wee see a fun front from Jim Schwartz. They basically have new acquisition Genard Avery in the game as an extra stand-up rusher on this 3rd-and-10. Trusbisky doesn’t have a prayer. But you’ll notice that the A-gap Avery shoots to get to the quarterback has been completely vacated because, again, Cox gets double-teamed. Even though there’s clearly a blitz coming from the right side of the Eagles’ defense, the center still shades Cox’s way. On the other side, there aren’t enough blockers. 

And still, Cox probably would have had a sack on this play if Avery and Malcolm Jenkins didn’t get there first. Party at the QB. 

This play is just another example of how much attention Cox warrants. This time, the TE/FB is going to help, which is good news for the Bears, because Cox immediately slips the 1-on-1 and gets held. With all that attention on Cox, the Eagles’ linebackers are there to clean up and make an easy tackle for a minimal gain on the play. (Nice big-man toss from Vinny Curry.) 

With 8:52 left in the game, the Bears are facing a 3rd-and-9. Thanks to a monster drive from the Eagles’ offense later, this ends up being the Bears’ final offensive play of the game. The Eagles ran this play before, with Barnett looping, but this is just another example of how unblockable Cox is right now. Pressure from him and Graham forces Trubisky to rush a throw off his back foot and Avonte Maddox makes a nice play to force the incompletion. 

•••

Signs of life from the Eagles’ pass rush have been there for a few weeks now, but the fact that Cox is back to his dominant self is huge. The Eagles are going to need him to continue this dominance down the stretch. Now that he’s healthy, that shouldn’t be a problem. 

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Eagles film review: How Eagles pulled off their longest touchdown of the season

Eagles film review: How Eagles pulled off their longest touchdown of the season

The Eagles were clinging to a three-point lead in Buffalo when they ripped off their longest play of the season early in the third quarter. 

On their second play of the second half, Miles Sanders went 65 yards up the gut of Buffalo’s defense to extend the Eagles’ lead to 10 points in their eventual 31-13 win. The Eagles were in 21 personnel for the run, as Jordan Howard provided the lead block. 

Where did the play come from? 

“Jeff Stoutland,” head coach Doug Pederson answered, giving credit to his offensive line coach and run game coordinator. 

“It's actually a play that we have in our game plan, or I should say, we have in our run game plan. We've worked on it since OTAs.” 

The Eagles had used this look earlier in the year, but with a tight end in the backfield instead of another running back. They worked on their 21 personnel this week in practice and it paid off. Earlier in the game, the Eagles actually ran this play but threw a pass to Alshon Jeffery; we’ll show that later, but first, let’s take a closer look at the touchdown. 

On the line, the Eagles have a hat for hat with their guards and tackles and it’ll be on Jason Kelce to get the linebacker (49) in the second level. The key block, though, will come from Howard as a lead blocker on 58. 

At the mesh point, you can see this play developing. The line does a great job opening the hole and Howard is going to make the block of the game to clear the linebacker out of it. Meanwhile, No. 23 (Micah Hyde) has to respect the possibility of Carson Wentz keeping the ball. He can’t break toward Sanders. 

This is just perfect execution from Howard, blocking an undersized linebacker. Howard is actually listed as one pound heavier than the ‘backer, so it’s a fair fight and Howard puts a textbook block on him. 

“Yeah, that was sweet,” Wentz said. 

And give credit to Sanders too. He follows the block and then bursts through the hole. A slower back would probably get a nice gain, but wouldn’t take it to the house. On this play, Sanders reached 20.9 mph, according to NFL NextGen Stats. 

This wrinkle in the offense partially came about, Pederson explained, because of Sanders’ success in the passing game. 

“I liked having the two [running backs] because right now teams are focusing on 26 when he's in the game as a receiver,” Pederson said, “and this is a great way to get both our guys in the game and do a little bit of both.”

The Eagles actually ran this play earlier in the game with an adjustment. In the first quarter, they used this alignment and Wentz threw an incompletion to Alshon Jeffery. 

The execution here wasn’t great, but the Eagles used this formation to get themselves a 1-on-1 with Jeffery on a smaller corner on that side of the field. The Eagles knew the Bills would have to respect the run. 

Adding more 21 personnel to the offense is certainly an interesting wrinkle to this offense, but it makes sense. Howard and Sanders are very complementary players and this personnel grouping can work. Don’t expect that to become the Eagles’ base offense, but it certainly makes them more versatile. And on Sunday, it got them their biggest play of the year. 

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Eagles film review: A closer look at what Eagles are getting in new DE Genard Avery

Eagles film review: A closer look at what Eagles are getting in new DE Genard Avery

It wasn’t the blockbuster trade Eagles fans were eagerly awaiting, but the Eagles did make one move on Monday afternoon, trading a 2021 draft pick to the Browns for second-year player Genard Avery. 

According to NFL reporter Chris Mortensen, the Eagles traded away a fourth-round pick in 2021, which sounds like a steep price for a player who has played just five defensive snaps this season. 

So what exactly are the Eagles getting in Avery? And why were they willing to part with a fourth-round pick to get him? 

Well, it is definitely worth noting that the Eagles announced the trade for Avery by calling him a defensive end. At 6-0, 250 pounds, Avery is the shortest and lightest defensive end on the Eagles roster. While he was an outside linebacker in Cleveland, Avery is likely going to be a sub rusher in Philly. 

Avery actually had a really promising rookie season in Cleveland. After they drafted him in the fifth round out of Memphis, Avery played in 16 games with five starts. He had 4 1/2 sacks as a rookie, but a scheme change took away his role and made him tradeable. He still has two more years under contract after this season, so it isn’t like they’re renting him. 

It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the Eagles use Avery and to see how quickly he earns playing time. The Eagles start Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham and then have Vinny Curry and Josh Sweat as their next two DEs off the bench, while rookie Shareef Miller hasn’t played. 

Here’s a closer look at every sack from Avery’s rookie season and a few hustle plays that the Eagles probably loved. 

This was Avery’s first NFL game and his first NFL sack came late in overtime. This play gave the ball back to the Browns, who should have beaten the Steelers in the OT with a field goal, but they did Browns things and had the kick blocked. 

But with 48 seconds left in OT, Avery got a great jump and used a speed rush with impressive bend to get around veteran Marcus Gilbert. He forced Ben Roethlisberger up into the pocket and then delivered the hit to force the ball free. An impressive start to his career. 

This next play comes in his fourth game. Avery lines up on the left side of the line and gets chipped by the TE. Not a great play from the Oakland left tackle, but give Avery credit for stopping on a dime, using his hands and coming back to the ball and Derek Carr. Avery shared this sack with Myles Garrett. 

The next sack came in Week 9 against the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. This time, Avery is working against longtime veteran and former All-Pro tackle Mitchell Schwartz. This is a little Brandon-Graham-like bowling ball action from Avery. He uses his natural leverage (a fancy term Jim Schwartz uses for short) and shows off some impressive power for someone his size. 

Now, go ahead and give a tip of the cap to Garrett, who ran through the left tackle while getting held to force Mahomes into Avery. But give Avery credit, too; he cleaned up. 

This sack against the Texans in Week 12 was an impressive combination of power and speed from the rookie. It was pressure from Avery’s side that forced Deshaun Watson to slide in the pocket. But watch when Watson tries to take off … Avery is able to get him to the ground. Even though Watson was off-balance, it looked like he was about to recover until Avery got to him. 

 

Avery’s final sack of his rookie season came on a speed chop move, but the impressive thing here is just how quickly he turned that corner. He took a somewhat circuitous route to the QB, but still arrived in 3.54 seconds, according to NFL NextGen Stats. There was pressure from a teammate here, but again, Avery cleaned up. 

The pass rush was solid as a rookie, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. 

But here are a few plays the Eagles surely loved. The Eagles are big on effort and high-motor players. These types of plays show up quite a bit for Avery: 

He’s on the left side of the line here for this receiver screen. The Steelers were probably OK leaving him unblocked and getting blockers set up over there for the screen, but Avery gets there in a hurry to thwart the play. 

On this screen play, Avery is actually the closest player to the quarterback. When the running back catches the ball, Avery is 5 yards behind him and turned the wrong way. But he sticks with the play and eventually makes the tackle 15 yards down the field. 

But that’s nothing compared to this next play. 

This time, he’s on the right side of the line. The RB is just out of his reach, but Avery sticks with the play and ends up making the tackle over 50 yards (!) downfield. 

The Eagles’ top two defensive ends — Barnett and Graham — are known for their motors and it looks like Avery will fit right in. 

Was it too much to give up a fourth-round pick for Avery? Time will tell. But it’s not hard to figure out why the Eagles liked him. 



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