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Eagles Defense All-22 Film Review: Takeaways from the Giants playoff game

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Eagles Defense All-22 Film Review: Takeaways from the Giants playoff game
Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

I know it’s easy to say the New York Giants’ offense is terrible, but they have really improved their play in the past few weeks and the Eagles dominated them. This was a really good defensive performance from the Eagles and they deserve credit for it. Let’s take a look at what they did and also some of the poor plays as well as this wasn’t a perfect performance.

Defense

The EPA numbers show how dominant of a performance this was. The Eagles’ defense is pretty much outstanding every single week on 3rd and long currently. The Giants had a few nice runs but overall, they will be disappointed with this performance.


Pass Defense

I thought the Eagles had a pretty aggressive game plan on early downs and were willing to play a fair bit of man coverage throughout. They mixed their coverages up a lot and also brought some pressure.

As most games are these days, this was a Haason Reddick game. He set the tone on the Giants’ first series with back-to-back sacks on 3rd and 4th down. This one on 4th down shows his ability to convert speed to power and it is something I did not expect from him coming into this year. I knew he could bend the edge but I did not see this power and ability to bullrush from his previous tape very much. He is playing like a top-tier elite pass rusher and has been for a long, long time now. I love the long stunt on 4th down as well as it prevents your edge rushers from getting chipped by a tight end.

I absolutely love this interception from James Bradberry. It’s such a veteran play. The entire first drive, the Giants were continually motioning the running back out wide just before the snap to get into an empty formation (as I said they would if you read the preview!). This means there are no possible pass protectors in the backfield which means Daniel Jones has to get this ball out quickly, especially against the Eagles’ pass rush. Knowing this, Bradberry reads the short throw and is breaking on this ball before the Giants’ receiver has even come to a stop. He also knows CGJ is blitzing and quarterbacks are taught to throw where the pressure has come from. This is a fantastic combination of film study, experience, and then going and making the play on the ball.

Reddick is turning into one of those players who even when he doesn’t win immediately, he still finds a way to get pressure. Every single time the Giants were in 3rd and long it just felt obvious that they were not going to convert and Reddick was going to get pressure. Fletcher Cox got some pressure here too and I think the reduced snaps have really benefited him towards the end of the season. He’s rushing the passer now a lot better than he was at the start of the year.

I thought both Reed Blankenship and Marcus Epps were really good in coverage and they were asked to do quite a bit. This is a fantastic play on the ball by Blankenship.

I do think James Bradberry has had a fantastic year and he had another fantastic game. But, I do think that excellent receivers will fancy their chances against him when he is in man coverage. He can get beat over the top and he is definitely more comfortable in the Eagles’ quarters defense than he is in press man. This could have been a big play with a better throw from Daniel Jones (who was competing with Dak Prescott for the worst performance by an NFC East QB this weekend). This is the risk you get with more MOFC man coverage! Every coverage has its weakness.

*Apologies, my game pass would simply not show this play without severe lag so I can’t post the clip. It was the play when Daniel Jones underthrew his receiver on the left side of the field.

I really like this 3rd down-blitz design. Although it doesn’t get home and Daniel Jones misses a wide-open receiver, he also has Kyzir White coming straight at him as a free rusher. The Eagles show blitz with TJ Edwards lining up over the center but end up playing cover 0 and sending CGJ and Kyzir White from the slot. The Eagles probably didn’t need to blitz in this game, but I don’t mind being aggressive and showing different looks at an offense, even when you are already up big. I won’t complain very often about aggressive play calls, on offense or defense.

I thought the Eagles’ pass defense was outstanding against a pretty average group of receivers, but this was a clear bust. It’s an outstanding call from the Giants and running a deep over route from trips is an excellent way of taking advantage of zone defense as the outside cornerback will often play MEG (man everywhere he goes) coverage to the receiver isolated. I have seen a lot of teams running something similar to this recently. Without knowing the exact call, I have no idea who is at fault, but it looks like a form of cover 3 to me and I am guessing TJ Edwards is supposed to carry the deep over route but that is a tough ask for a linebacker. It looks more like a form of cover 3 than quarters so I don’t think Blankenship is at fault either. Whatever happened, it better not happen next week or this is a huge touchdown.

The Eagles’ pass defense is built to play with a lead. The Eagles played a ton of quarters in the 4th quarter and I thought the communication in the secondary was excellent. Even when the Eagles’ pass rush did not get home, the Eagles secondary had everything covered down the field. This felt like one of those games where Darius Slay wasn’t really tested and he gave up nothing. Next week will be a lot different! Great pocket presence by Daniel Jones by the way… I think he’s worth $200m guaranteed personally.

I tweeted this a few days ago, but I will be really interested to see what the Eagles do when Avonte Maddox is back. Maddox was having a fantastic year and is one of the best nickel cornerbacks, but CGJ and Blankenship are playing so well. CGJ looks every bit as good as a slot cornerback and he seems to have no problem with communication despite playing a different position the past few weeks. He had some outstanding reps and this was probably my favorite of the lot. I still expect CGJ to go back to safety and Maddox to start in the slot but it’s good to have options!

Little scheme note: NFL teams who play a lot of quarters are using the weak safety to shade over to the trips side. The Eagles call this ‘Trix’. This means the X wide receiver will end up one-on-one with the outside cornerback. The Eagles can normally win outside because Slay and Bradberry are outstanding, but if the 49ers do this next week with Kittle, Deebo, or Aiyuk, it will be a tough cover for the Eagles outside cornerback.

Run Defense

The Eagles played a lot more MOFC coverage to get an extra defender in the box early on and it benefitted them in the run game. I thought Reed Blankenship really stood out as a run defender in this game. Look at his position on this run on 1st down, he is basically playing as a linebacker. In recent weeks, I’ve noticed that the Eagles can struggle against the pass when in a 5-2 man front because they only have 4 defensive backs on the field. By playing a 5-1 front but asking Blankenship to make up the numbers in the box, they are more secure against the pass and he can still play the run. Although Josh Sweat gets pushed at the snap he does a good job maintaining his balance and protecting the edge.

Once again, this is a fantastic play by Blankenship coming downhill. The Eagles are once again in a 5-1 front on 1st down and they move Blankenship down into the box and he bursts through a gap to make a tackle on Barkley. Fletcher Cox also does a great job getting keeping his eye in the backfield and getting off his block as Barkley runs towards him.

As everyone reminded me on Twitter, Blankenship was a UDFA. Even better!

The big run from Barkley came on 3rd and 2 and it just felt like someone made an error. TJ Edwards coming flying through a gap and there’s a totally vacant gap in the middle of the field. Meanwhile, Kyzir White looks like he’s playing the same gap as Darius Slay. It just feels like someone is at fault here. Finally, I wonder if rookie year Saquon Barkley scores on this play…

Credit to the Giants for this touchdown. I love this play call and design, to be honest. It’s not often you see Barkley and another running back running the read-option, but Josh Sweat gets caught up in the play and ends up focusing too much on Barkley and losing his contain on the edge. Sometimes, you have to credit the opposition for forcing a mistake.

This game felt easy for the defense, but next week will not be. I am extremely excited to watch this defense against one of the best offenses in the league. Let’s just hope I am breaking down a victory next week!

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