The Eagles' defensive front has been really fun to watch over the course of this season, both in the run and pass games. Going back to the summer, when the group was the most dominant on the field during Training Camp (including joint practices vs. opposing teams), you could see that it would be a strength of this football team.
This is a group that has the ability to win quick off the ball from left to right along the line of scrimmage. Josh Sweat, Fletcher Cox, Javon Hargrave, and Derek Barnett all excel at getting off the ball and threatening edges of offensive linemen. This get-off allows them to disrupt against both the run, and the pass, and that was illustrated last Tuesday night against the Washington Football Team.
When your defensive line is a strength of your team, opponents are going to play you a certain way on offense. You're going to see more of the quick game because the ball has to be out fast. According to Next Gen Stats, the Eagles rank 4th in the NFL in average time to throw on defense with 2.68 seconds. The three teams ahead of them are the Arizona Cardinals (2.63 seconds), and the Carolina Panthers and the Cleveland Browns (both 2.65 seconds). Arizona's pair of edge rushers, Chandler Jones and Markus Golden, have produced the most sacks of any edge duo in football so far (20.5). The Panthers' duo of Brian Burns and Hassan Reddick ranks second (20). The Browns, of course, have Myles Garrett (15 sacks of his own), a former No. 1 pick and one of the freakiest pass rushers in the game. Teams respect the Eagles' rush and the ability to win quickly off the ball.
As a result, the Eagles are going to see a lot of screens in the pass game and a lot of draws in the run game because both plays excel at sucking the defensive line upfield before getting the ball past them to the second level. Lastly, the Eagles are going to see a lot of play-action and typically a lot of "move the pocket" play-action passes with the quarterback rolling right or left after the fake to keep them away from the rush.
The Giants used all of these tools on Sunday afternoon against the Eagles – and the Eagles were up to the task.
I thought one of the standouts in this game against the Giants was defensive end Josh Sweat, who has been a steady contributor as a disruptor off the edge this season. He has set career highs in nearly every category. In this matchup, he was able to consistently win his one-on-ones and he showed up in important spots on third down.
There have been a lot of examples in recent weeks of the Eagles putting linebackers up on the line of scrimmage "mugging up" before the snap as a potential pressure player on a blitz. These fronts have helped to dictate some of those one-on-one matchups that we see in the clip above, but they also have served to set the Eagles up for some creative stunts at the snap of the ball. These stunts help against both the run and the pass, and we saw examples of both against the Giants.
The Eagles stunt at a lower rate than basically any team in football (according to Pro Football Focus), but in this matchup, they used that tool to their advantage to create pressure against the quarterback and defend the run.
The Eagles have been extremely disruptive up front this season, and while the numbers don't typically reflect it from a sack standpoint, the film backs it up.