A decade ago, Sean McDermott inherited a poisoned chalice. A young, developing coach thrust into the furnace of expectation. McDermott burned, and quickly, without a job after only a couple of years as defensive coordinator of the Eagles. His unit ranked 21st in points allowed per game in 2010, a dramatic decline from Jim Johnson’s final season at the helm (4th in 2008). The unit was absolutely stacked full with talent, especially on the defensive line. The front office was partially responsible, trading away Sheldon Brown, one of the most consistent corners in the league at the time, while adding the disastrous pair of Ernie Sims and Ellis Hobbs. An eternal churn of starting linebackes however, can only be attributed to a poor assessment of his own players’ quality. We’ll wait to see if McDermott is truly an elite defensive coordinator, he’s certainly started well this year, but my instinct is to doubt he remains unable to bring the best out of top talent.
The Eagles offensive coaching staff clearly got the better of their former defensive coordinator. The front five blew the Bills off the line of scrimmage, and two of the biggest plays of the game came straight from the drawing board. Miles Sanders’s long touchdown run used a personnel package featuring Jordan Howard alongside the rookie. Howard is a nightmare to contact when he’s trying to avoid you. Stick him as a lead blocker to pick the backside hole on inside zone from spread formation and watch him carve a path. Great play design from the offensive brass, and great execution from Howard and Sanders.
The other key play was a redzone tendency breaker. The tunnel screen has been a consistently productive call in goal-to-go situations. In contrast, the TE stick’n nod has seen increasing attention from lurking safeties in recent games. The solution? Just combine the two together with a fake to Jeffery while running the stick’n nod to the backside. When the offense is clicking, it makes it seem scoring effortless, they were back in the groove against the Bills.
Can you believe the organisation almost allowed Brandon Graham to walk. Graham is probably the best Eagle of his generation, he should be up there with Dawk in terms of legendary status for what he did to Tom Brady. Graham has proved already this season that he’s far from over the hill, changing the momentum of the game with an incredible solo effort. Fantastic, but Graham can’t win every game himself. The underneath defenders busted a couple key zones against the Bills. First Nate Gerry abandoned his responsibility to allow Josh Allen an easy touchdown, then Sidney Jones tore upfield when he should have been defending the sticks on third and long, giving up a key first down. Having Ronald Darby back remains a boost, he’s the best cover guy on the perimeter.
Jim Schwartz continues to struggle with his blitz timing, and decision-making on third downs. For the third consecutive week, his premeditated third-down redzone blitzes got burned. The aforementioned mistake by Jones was “sticks” defense/cover-3. It didn’t take him long to abandon those variations. By the second half, the defense ran almost exclusively cover-1 robber and cover-1 with a MLB spy. Understandable considering Allen’s mobility, but not sustainable over the long term.
- Brandon Graham, obviously
- Carson Wentz, displayed his absurd arm strength, make good, quick decisions, he can be this good every week
- Miles Sanders, played more decisively, and delivered big plays with open-field opportunities