eagles film review

Carson Wentz shows off special out-of-pocket arm strength

Carson Wentz shows off special out-of-pocket arm strength

As Carson Wentz unleashed his touchdown throw late in the second quarter on Sunday, I couldn’t help but say it out loud: “That’s dangerous.” 

It would have been. For just about any other quarterback. 

But Wentz has incredible arm strength and was able to complete the pass for a touchdown. In fact, his big-time arm strength and ability to use that arm strength outside the pocket showed up on two of the Eagles’ biggest plays in their 34-17 NFC East-clinching win on Sunday.  

Let’s start with the touchdown: 

This play came on 1st-and-10 with 2:01 remaining in the first half. Wentz hit Josh Perkins for a 24-yard score, but the ball traveled much farther than that in the air. 

“It was a designed movement play where we were going to get Carson out of the pocket, obviously fake to the left, boot out to the field,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “Perk did a very good job with it. We’ve repped the play the last couple weeks. Perk, with his expanded role, was really only getting the reps the last week or so. 

“But we got a unique coverage maybe that we weren’t anticipating on that particular play. I thought Perk did a good job of breaking all the way across the field in front of the safety there.”

The Eagles are in max protect with an extra tackle and both tight ends on the right side of the line, which is where Wentz is going to roll after the play action. 

Despite the pre-snap look, the Giants are going to rush just three against this max protect and drop eight players into zone coverage. That might seem problematic for the Eagles, who will have just three passing options: Greg Ward, Boston Scott and Josh Perkins. 


As Wentz is rolling, there’s nothing really opening down field. But the three-man rush just isn’t going to get there. And since Wentz is rolling to the field side, there’s really only one Giant who stays in pursuit. Andre Dillard will handle him outside. That gives this play plenty of time to develop. 

“They had it covered pretty well,” Wentz said. “That was the play design. It just wasn’t supposed to happen that late. But like I said, they had it pretty well but Perk just kept running and outran the coverage. And it was pretty sweet.” 

Dillard is getting the rusher wide, so Wentz has plenty of time to step into this throw. He could probably try to fire it in to Ward, but instead decides to make the big-time throw across the field to a streaking Perkins, who keeps the play alive. 

You can see the safety on that side of the field bite hard because he thinks there’s no way Wentz delivers a cross-field throw 30-yards down field. He was wrong and Wentz catches his momentum going the wrong way. Perkins is able to get past him and Wentz delivers a throw on the money. 

The end zone angle gives you a better idea of just how far Wentz rolls right before planting his foot and releasing the football. That’s what sold this play and allowed Perkins to get past the last defender. 

“Carson, we know how good he is outside of the pocket, but he has the arm strength to be able to throw it like he did. Put it right on him,” Groh said. “Perfect amount of velocity to complete the pass and great job by Perk coming down with it.”

This next play was actually the first play of the fourth quarter. It came right after the Eagles took a shot down field to Rob Davis but the play was called back. So this time, they roll right and allow recently called up Deontay Burnett to stretch the field. 

It went for a gain of 41 yards, the Eagles’ longest play of the day. 

 

The Eagles are in a tight formation with no one spread out wide. Burnett (circled at the top of the screen) is going to stretch the field. Wentz is going to sell the play action and roll right again. 

Nice trap block from Matt Pryor at right guard and nice job by Josh Perkins blocking the rusher 1-on-1 at the top of the screen. He isn’t a very good blocking tight end but he gets the job done here. 

Unlike the first throw we showed you, this time Wentz is going to throw the ball on the move and deliver a strike. Great communication between Wentz and Burnett, who breaks toward the sideline to give Wentz a target. 

Just an impressive throw from Wentz, who can either reset or throw on the run once he gets out of the pocket. 

These are the kinds of plays that pop off the tape and a big reason the Eagles’ offense has rebounded. 

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How Eagles are using screen game to pick up big chunks

How Eagles are using screen game to pick up big chunks

Over the last few weeks, we have seen a reinvented Eagles offense. 

Without DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery and even Nelson Agholor, the Eagles are somewhat limited with their options offensively and big plays have kind of dried up because of it. 

But they’re finding ways to manufacture offense and one way they’re manufacturing chunk plays is with the screen game. 

I have always thought the Eagles’ offense works best when they get these screens going and that was true against the Cowboys in the 17-9 win. With the speed and YAC ability of some of their players and with the athletic ability of the entire offensive line, it’s not hard to figure out why the Eagles are good at this. 

It paid off on Sunday. Let’s take a look: 

This play comes early in the fourth quarter. On 1st-and-10, Doug Pederson dials up this screen play to Miles Sanders and the Eagles execute it perfectly. This was absolutely textbook. The play goes for 24 yards and Sanders comes pretty close to breaking it. 

Before the snap, Zach Ertz goes in motion. Even though Ertz is playing with a fractured rib at this point, the Cowboys have to account for him, which is going to buy another fraction of a second for this play to work. 

The play action look gets Sean Lee turned around and you can see the play start to develop. Sanders is going to sneak into the flat and will have horses in front of him. Solid job by the receivers to just take their men out of the frame.

Take a second to appreciate Brandon Brooks’ playing Michael Bennett and tossing him to the ground before getting out in front of this play. 

As Sanders catches the ball, he has three big offensive linemen about to get in front of him to lead block. All three have a responsibility. Jason Kelce was uncovered on the line, so he’s the first guy. He’s going to take out the ‘mugger,’ who had the running back. That’s Sean Lee. The next guy is Isaac Seumalo. He’s responsible for sealing off the inside man. 

Then there’s Brooks. He already tossed a Pro Bowl player and now he’s responsible for the outside man, but Greg Ward is already doing a great job blocking outside. So Brooks can head up field, giving Sanders a 340-pound lead blocker once he gets on the track. 

This is the perfect situation for Sanders. He has a mobile Brooks out in front. Brooks completely erases Jaylon Smith from the play and it allows Sanders to pick up another dozen yards. Perfect execution. 

 

This play actually came earlier in the game. It was a huge 18-yard gain that was negated by a Jason Peters penalty, but it doesn’t mean the play call didn’t work. Because it absolutely did and it was a big gainer. Dallas Goedert is really good with the ball in his hands and the Eagles have been happy to get it to him. 

It’s 1st-and-10 late in the second quarter. The Eagles are in 12 personnel with both tight ends off the left side of the line. At the snap, Ertz is going to run a route and Goedert is going to stay inline and block Robert Quinn. First, it’s a credit to Goedert that he probably could’ve blocked Quinn, but he just has to get a chip on him and make it appear like he’s blocking. Instead, Goedert is going to slip out and become the target. 

You can already see how this play is developing. Goedert is about to come free and there’s a lot of space on that side of the field. You can also see Peters’ man charging. Eventually, Peters is going to get called for a penalty. 

Kind of just unfortunate for Peters here. I know everyone wants to kill him and maybe he could have gotten to his spot earlier … but the linebacker over pursues the play and then instead of turning his body and going after Goedert he tries to cut back and Peters can’t help but to hit him in his back. Weird play. 

Anyway, you can see all the space Goedert has in front of him with the calvary of Kelce and Seumalo out in front. Again, Kelce has the first guy and Seumalo’s job is to seal off the inside. 

 

This last play we’ll take a look at came in the third quarter on a 2nd-and-5. It goes to Boston Scott, who picks up seven yards and the first down. 

 

On this play, Scott is going to catch the pass in the left flat. Jason Peters and Jason Kelce sell it well and since Seumalo is uncovered on the line, it’s his job to get to the next level and get the key block on Lee. 

 

At the catch, Seumualo does his job and gets a hat on Lee. Meanwhile, Kelce seals off the inside and this should give Scott a hole. 

 

Decision time for Scott. The play is likely designed for Scott to cut back up through that hole, but he’s a little wide for that and he sees 54 charging in. And there’s a lot of space outside, so Scott just uses his speed and bounces it outside to pick up the first down. 

•••

A few years ago, the Eagles were great in the screen game with Darren Sproles. Well, he is retiring but they have plenty of other weapons to use on screen with Sanders, Scott and Goedert. Sure, the Cowboys are susceptible to these plays but regardless of opponent, the Eagles have to keep using them. 

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How Miles Sanders’ blazing speed and patience have become huge weapon for Eagles

How Miles Sanders’ blazing speed and patience have become huge weapon for Eagles

While the Eagles faced more third downs than they would have liked against Washington on Sunday, they also had their best third-down day ever under Doug Pederson, converting on 11 of 19 attempts. 

They converted two on 3rd-and-7 or longer with run plays. 

That never happens without the quick burst from rookie Miles Sanders. 

“The athleticism that he has, the big-play ability that he has,” center Jason Kelce said, “that’s something that, quite frankly, we’ve needed on this offense. It’s been really good, obviously, that he can provide that.” 

Sanders on Sunday converted on a 3rd-and-7 run and a 3rd-and-10, getting up over 20 mph on both runs. It’s a dimension of speed from that position that the Eagles haven’t had for a long time. 

It’s a real advantage and it’s fun to watch. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of those two plays: 

Play 1 — Top speed: 20.64 mph 

This was a 3rd-and-7 with 3:08 left in the first half. The Eagles have the ball at their own 35-yard line and Sanders picks up a big gain of 14 yards on a draw. It was the Eagles’ second-longest play of the day. 

 

The Eagles are in shotgun in 12 personnel and you’ll notice both Washington safeties are back. The Eagles notice that too. The Redskins are running a stunt up front, which we’ll take a closer look at in a minute, but know the Eagles handle it well. 

At the mesh point, it looks like there’s a hole developing and it’s basically going to be a 1-on-1 between Sanders and safety Landon Collins. 

A few weeks ago, Sanders would have probably seen that hole and gone at it right away. But on Sunday, he shows patience. He realizes that Isaac Seumalo’s man was coming across his face, so Sanders stuck his foot in the ground and then explodes up field for a first down. Collins gets off balance and had zero chance of catching him. 

Meanwhile, all the receivers on that side of the field are doing their jobs and taking their men away, leaving a lot of open space. 

Take a look from the other angle: 

Here, you’ll see how well Seumalo handles this stunt up front. He passes it off and then takes his new man with momentum away from the play. Sanders gets his foot in the ground and explodes up to over 20 mph. 

Just before the mesh point, you can see how this play looks to be developing. Collins is already starting to drive toward the first hole. Meanwhile, Seumalo is passing off his man and about to take linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton away with his own momentum. 

I can’t stress enough how important Sanders’ development has been. A few weeks ago, he probably bursts through that first hole and gains five yards and the Eagles punt. But now he remains patient and bursts to the right spot. 

Kelce brought up an interesting point on Sunday night. Sanders has always had burst, but sometimes that can be a bad thing if he’s not going to the right place. We probably saw some of that earlier in the season. But now Sanders is patient and his vision is taking over … and once he finds the hole, he’s gone. 

Right here, Sanders has been patient long enough. He sees the new hole developing and he puts his left foot in the dirt and takes off like a rocket. Collins does the same, but even if he takes a decent angle, he has no chance to catch the speedy rookie, who picks up the first down. 

Play 2 — Top speed: 21.01 mph

 

This play came on a 3rd-and-10 early in the fourth quarter from the Eagles’ 25-yard line. Sanders picked up 56 yards on the run. It’s the second-longest run on the season, behind just his 65-yarder against the Bills. 

At the snap, the Redskins have an overload blitz on the left side of the defensive line. They’re going to bring more bodies than the Eagles have blockers — Big V isn’t going to block three players — but that’s OK. 

Nothing too special here. Sanders is just going to bounce this outside and find a bunch of room. The two defenders have no chance to catch him and he simply runs away from them. Washington clearly wasn’t expecting the Eagles to run a draw play on 3rd-and-10 down four points. The Eagles got them with it thanks to Sanders’ speed. 

••• 

Don’t expect Pederson to start running on 3rd-and-longs frequently. But since this is now on tape, teams have to at least respect it, which means this should free up more in the passing game. 

None of this is possible with a plodding runner. I can’t say for certain, but I’d be shocked to see the Eagles run either of these plays with Jordan Howard because he just doesn’t have the same explosion as Sanders. 

According to NFL’s NextGen Stats, Sanders accounted for the second- and ninth-fastest recorded times for ball carriers in Week 15 and both happened on these third down plays. He’s quite a weapon and we’re probably just scratching the surface. 

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