After taking a close look at perhaps the best all-around performance of Carson Wentz's career, it's time to look at the play of the defense against Washington in Week 14. When these two teams faced off in Week 6, I thought the matchup of the Washington offensive line against the Eagles' defensive line would determine the outcome of the game. That certainly turned out to be the case, as the opposing blockers frankly overwhelmed the Philadelphia front seven for over 200 yards rushing back in October. When the two groups took the field on Sunday, it was a far different result. It started inside with the Eagles' pair of stud defensive tackles - Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan.
Shot 1 - Fletcher Cox & Bennie Logan made their presence felt on Sunday. Helped keep Kelley to 3.9ypc, his 2nd lowest number since Halloween pic.twitter.com/9Zr4Ztaiep — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2016
The Eagles held Washington running back Robert Kelley, who averaged 11.8 yards per carry against them back in Week 6, to just 3.9 yards per run on Sunday, his second-lowest total since the end of October. Cox continued his strong play up front in the run game, handling multiple blockers more often than not and still stalemating runs at the line of scrimmage. He also helped to create opportunities for teammates.
Shot 2 - Great job by Cox feeling this Trap block w/ his eyes up. Beau Allen squeezes his man and the two collapse the running lane #Eagles pic.twitter.com/aOeajPncnZ — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2016
This is a great job by Cox against this Trap run scheme from the Redskins. Cox feels that he was unblocked, so he expects the pulling guard from the other side. He gets his eyes up and stonewalls him in the backfield. Defensive tackle Beau Allen plays an integral part in this run stop as well. He squeezes his man down to the point of attack to shrink the crease Kelley had to run through. I always love seeing this many Eagles flow to the football as well.
Shot 3 - Great team effort results in a sack for F. Cox. DEs get push outside, DBs bottle up 'Post Wheel' downfield. Cousins steps into #91 pic.twitter.com/OfUEyMtuXP — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2016
My Twitter mentions felt a bit light this week after Cox was able to net 1.5 sacks in the game, though his level of play didn't change based off what I'd seen the past few weeks. Still, it was good to see Fletcher get his. It required a full team effort, which had been missing in the pass rush. Up front, defensive ends Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham win their one-on-one battles, and quarterback Kirk Cousins steps right into Cox's grasp for his first sack. On the back end, the Eagles' secondary bottles up Washington's attempt at a deep Post Wheel concept, a play that could have resulted in big yardage down the field. As is almost always the case, this sack was a full team effort.
Shot 4 - Another sack for Cox, this time off a blitz away from his side. Good way to ensure he doesn't get doubled? Show pressure opposite pic.twitter.com/z5RnVyRLYI — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2016
There was a similar effort from the rest of the line on Cox's second sack of Cousins, one that he split with Logan. With all of the double teams he's gotten the last few weeks, the Eagles find a way to ensure he gets single blocked on this third-down play by showing the threat of pressure on the opposite side of the formation. Washington slides the protection away from Cox. The defensive ends again win their one-on-one battles, and Cox is able to collapse on Cousins for a big stop on third down to force a punt.
Shot 5 - Great effort by Cox on this pursuit of Cousins in the fourth quarter. He has put forth consistent high-level motor all year long pic.twitter.com/SCUoSP4Bni — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2016
Hustle plays like this one, especially in the fourth quarter, are a hallmark of Cox's play. It's not easy to find a player like Cox, who moves well for his size while still being strong at the point of attack. As you saw from those two sacks above, production in the backfield - outside of a handful of outlier plays every season - is a factor of overall team defense. Regardless of how his teammates are playing around him, Cox is one of the most disruptive players at his position in the entire league.
Shot 6 - Great range from Bennie Logan here making the stop 12yds downfield. Love seeing this kind of effort up front on the DL #Eagles pic.twitter.com/feotZsaRRV — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2016
Cox isn't the only 300-pound monster up front with great range, because Logan makes high-motor plays like this one on an almost weekly basis as well. Logan covers a lot of ground on his pursuit of this play downfield on what ended up as a 12-yard gain.
The "return" of Logan to this matchup - remember he left the previous game early in the first quarter - was pivotal up front. Were there some big runs in the fourth quarter? Yes. But overall, the run defense was stout against a brutal rushing attack that has the ability to move the ball on the ground against anyone.
Shot 8 - Great team run defense on this Power play. LBs attack downhill, Vinny Curry sets the edge, and Beau Allen defeats his block for tkl pic.twitter.com/qJZgDivGfI — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2016
Here's another great example of strong team run defense against Washington. This is a Power run play from the Redskins, who double Allen at the point of attack. Curry sets a strong edge. Both Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham attack downhill, and Allen stays alive long enough to make the tackle for no gain. Everyone on this play did his job up front, which was often the case against Washington. It just didn't happen enough late in the game.
Shot 9 - Despite strong run D almost all day, #Redskins get 2 big TDs late. This is the GW TD; a 'jet flip' play. Great blocks from WRs pic.twitter.com/piUAdC2oTU — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2016
The Eagles lost this game on this touchdown run by the Redskins' Chris Thompson. It came off of a beautiful design. I call this play Jet Flip, where jet sweep action tries to generate flow to the right, for the ball to go back to the left after a "flip" toss from the quarterback to Thompson in the backfield. Angles and leverage are a big part of why this play worked, to go along with great toughness and just savvy blocking from the Washington receiving corps.
First off, Curry gets pinned down by slot receiver Jamison Crowder, who gets just enough of the defensive end to prevent him from getting a hand on the back. Next, Pierre Garçon stalk blocks Jalen Mills on the outside as if he was going to block him, and the rookie defensive back stays put so as to not engage him until he can see the path of the runner. Garçon isn't going to block Mills, though, because he instead cracks the inside cornerback Leodis McKelvin. Who blocks Mills? Just one of the best offensive linemen in Washington left tackle Trent Williams. Brandon Graham gives outstanding effort from the back side and he nearly makes this play.
Shot 10 - Biggest difference for #Eagles between this week and last week vs CIN was 3rd down. Made stops when needed in first 3 quarters pic.twitter.com/j4rfadV9yO — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2016
In the passing game, the Eagles improved greatly on third down against the Redskins. After allowing several long third-down conversions against Cincinnati a week earlier, the Eagles responded by limiting Cousins to 0-of-4 passing with a sack and a 39.6 quarterback rating on third down, keeping the Eagles in the game late into the fourth quarter.
On the first two plays above, McKelvin shows great effort dealing with pick routes and running through traffic to meet his receiver at the catch point. On the last play, Nolan Carroll runs with his man down the sideline on a wheel route and pins him while trying to find the ball to help force an incompletion. This type of execution in the secondary can decide games for you one way or another, and it almost did that on Sunday against the Redskins.
Shot 11 - Cousins was 0-for-4 with a sack passing on 3rd down; great effort by #Eagles. This key 4th down hurt tho. Well-covered by McKelvin pic.twitter.com/8XfAtq4pGP — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) December 13, 2016
Despite the Eagles' success on third down, it was a key fourth down late in the game that helped propel Washington to victory. It's fourth-and-2 and McKelvin is lined up on Garçon. The veteran receiver runs a good hitch route past the sticks. McKelvin actually defends this pass well. He shoots his hands into the catch point as the ball arrives, but Garçon is able to reel the pass in for a key first down.
The biggest play for Washington down the field was this third-quarter bomb to DeSean Jackson. Just like the deep throw the Eagles allowed to Brandon LaFell a week ago, the secondary got caught in Quarters coverage against a perfect route concept to defeat that scheme. Jackson ran a deep post route against McKelvin, who was forcing the receiver inside to his safety help. The safety help was not there, however, because Jenkins (correctly) attacked the vertical route from the No. 2 receiver. It's up to McKelvin to get back on top of Jackson and try to make a play down the field, but he's unable to and the Eagles give up the touchdown. Sunday was a much better defensive effort from the Eagles than the last time these two teams played, but it still was not enough to come away with a win.
Fran Duffy is the producer of "Eagles Game Plan" which can be seen on Saturdays during the season. Be sure to also check out the "Eagle Eye In The Sky" podcast on the Philadelphia Eagles podcast channel on iTunes. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University Football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices and opponents.