The Eagles’ season ended in typically tragic fashion. Bursting out to two scores on their opening two drives, the offense failed to find the endzone again over the course of the game. Facing the worst run defense in the league, the coaching staff conspired to create a strong gameplan to exploit the Cowboys’ weakness, before completing neglecting the run game as they started to fall behind. Having a mobile quarterback under centre assisted the rushing attack. It wasn’t just zone reads either, but quarterback options on power concepts that helped establish the line of scrimmage.
In total, the offense gained 29 yards and a touchdown on 4 called counters. Twice the Eagles used the inverted veer, a play made popular in the NFL by Cam Newton when he was destroying the league under Rod Chudzinski. Unlike the inside zone read, the line blocks for the quarterback keep, with the option to handoff if the backside end cheats down. Hurts made a poor decision to handoff on one of these calls, otherwise he’d have had another big gain and the production numbers would have been even more impressive.
However, formation makes the Eagles run game fairly predictable. They called only three runs from under centre, combining for only 4 yards on those carries. Each run was to the perimeter, allowing the Cowboys to easily anticipate run direction and limit the Eagles to either negative or short yardage.
Otherwise, Pederson almost exclusively called basic inside zone and inside zone read runs. He sprinkled in a little bit of pistol (RB lined up directly behind the QB), which at least makes it more difficult to predict whether the Eagles will be running to the strong or weak side, and the offense generally moved the ball efficiently on the base run play. Aside from seeing success on counter runs, Pederson called a single pin/pull play from shotgun, ripping off a nice gain in the second quarter.
Ultimately just a little bit of variation was probably appropriate for the rushing gameplan against the Cowboys’ atrocious defense. The graver error was refusing to stick to the ground attack after the team trailed by 13. Dallas were vulnerable, but defensive struggles and Pederson’s single-mindedness resulted in a game, and season, lost.