After going through the Eagles' performance on offense in Sunday's loss to Washington, it's time to analyze the defense. There has been a lot said in the media about the Wide 9 scheme being at fault (even though Jim Schwartz has said multiple times this is not a Wide 9 defense). The Eagles' issues defending the run had nothing to do with a defensive end being lined up outside of the tight end.
In the preview of Washington's offense last week, there were two important things to watch. First was the diverse run scheme and the Redskins' commitment to the ground game despite limited success. Second was the play of the offensive line. This was shaping up to be a great battle in the trenches. The Redskins had their share of big gains, but the Eagles got a few punches in as well.
Shot 1 - #Eagles had their share of plays defending the run, it wasn't all bad, but too many breakdowns for lots of reasons on the gorund pic.twitter.com/uaHo2wubom — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 18, 2016
There were a handful of plays in the game, especially early, where the Eagles shut down the run. Whether it was great individual effort or great overall team run fits, the Eagles were able to keep the Redskins contained. It wasn't all sunshine and rainbows for this unit, however, as a number of different themes showed up throughout the game.
This is a simple zone scheme from the Redskins. Guard Brandon Scherff and center Spencer Long do an outstanding job of reaching their two blocks. Long scoops defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao, and Scherff latches on to linebacker Mychal Kendricks. This creates a huge run for running back Matt Jones.
The last play was a zone run that hit on the front side. On this play, the front side is well-defended by Marcus Smith, Vaeao and both linebackers fitting the run perfectly on that side. Running back Robert Kelley bends this back, and no Eagles defender is able to make the play on the back side as he breaks this for a big gain.
Shot 4 - #Eagles block this up playside, but an outstanding job by their C Long here getting movement on the double then climbing to 2nd lvl pic.twitter.com/vN5g50GDsE — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 18, 2016
Here's another zone scheme that ends up coming back side. The Eagles fit this really well on the front side of the play, but look at the incredible block from the center Long. Not only does he get great movement on the double team, but he climbs up to the second level to Nigel Bradham and takes him out of the play as well on this long run.
Shot 5 - #Redskins use 'Wham' block from the TE to block Logan here. Did this vs Cox too. Reached near double digits in run schemes Sunday pic.twitter.com/rOfeqiyVM1 — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 18, 2016
Last week, I profiled the trap scheme up front for the Redskins, and this is very similar. Instead of a lineman coming across the formation to block an unsuspecting defender (in this case, Bennie Logan, but on other plays this was Fletcher Cox), it's a tight end. Vernon Davis blocks Logan, two interior linemen get right up on the linebackers and it's a big gain for the Redskins on the ground.
Shot 6 - The 'Sweep' run for the #Redskins on Sunday, and the Eagles struggled with it every which way. Have to be better in every facet. pic.twitter.com/jb6xDmABcY — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 18, 2016
One run that consistently gave the Eagles issues on the ground was the sweep play. It wasn't just one theme of getting out-leveraged by good angles at the point of attack, overpursuing on the back side or just missing tackles in the alley - but all three of them happened throughout the day. If it was just one consistent issue, it would be easy to sit back and point fingers at one particular player or concept. That wasn't the case. The entire team just didn't have a good day against Washington's rushing attack, and you have to credit the scheme for keeping the Eagles' defense on its toes at the second and third levels.
Shot 7 - Credit #Redskins - ton of variety in their run scheme kept Eagles second- and third-level defenders on their toes all day long pic.twitter.com/PZuUUMBLWE — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) October 18, 2016
Here's one final look, a jet flip play that we've seen the Eagles run this year. This is the same play that resulted in Ryan Mathews' second touchdown against the Chicago Bears in Week 2. Watch the hesitation from the second-level defenders, which is the exact point of the play.
Against Washington, the Eagles saw inside zone, outside zone, counter, power, trap, wham, sweep, iso lead, jet flips, reverses and everything in between. The Redskins' multiple run game, along with excellent execution along the offensive line, got the better of a good Eagles front seven on Sunday. Now it's time for this group to respond against Minnesota this weekend.
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.