4 things we learned about the Philadelphia Eagles during their Super Bowl run

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) reacts after downing the ball in the closing minute against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

  • America loves a comeback: The Philadelphia Eagles‘ run defense has gone from pretty terrible to rather awesome over the course of the season.
  • Pass-rush goodness: Both the Eagles and Chiefs have pressured opposing quarterbacks in the playoffs at rates that would have ranked first during the regular season
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs have each played 19 football games that actually matter over the past five months. Both posted the second-best point differential in their conference, wound up getting the No. 1 seed anyway and cashed in on their home-field advantage to land them a date in Super Bowl 57. They ranked second and third in my postseason team breakdown, as these Goliaths have taken care of all the Davids in their path and usually did so in style.

A lot has happened and changed during that time, but obviously, the 60 minutes of football played this Sunday will ultimately be the only portion of the season that truly matters. One might say it’s a “what have you done for me lately” sort of league. Presenting: Three things we have learned about the Eagles during their respective playoff runs.

Eagles run defense is no longer a potential liability

The Eagles have only lost one game with Jalen Hurts under center this season and boast a top-three scoring offense alongside the league’s eighth-ranked scoring defense, so it’s nitpicking to call any part of this team a real issue.

That said, opposing offenses proved capable of putting up some serious numbers on the ground against Jonathan Gannon’s defense, generating 181, 168, 152, 144, 134 and 124 rushing totals over the first 10 weeks of the season. The advanced numbers were even worse, as Philly ranked dead last in EPA allowed per run play (+0.096) during a stretch in which only five defenses allowed the opposition to post a positive mark on the ground.

Naturally, the Eagles wasted no time in adding additional resources to address the problem. Free agent interior stalwarts Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh were suddenly wearing green, so opponents were no longer finding anything close to the same sort of success on the ground:

EPA allowed per run play:
    • Weeks 1-10: +0.096 (No. 32)
    • Weeks 11-18: -0.143 (No. 14)
    • Playoffs: -0.305 (No. 1)

Getting a healthier version of first-round DT Jordan Davis down the stretch also helped matters but either way, the Eagles have turned their most-glaring team-wide weakness into an arguable strength and, at a minimum, certainly not anything close to a liability.

Eagles offense is more than capable of putting up points without a lethal passing attack

Please don’t interpret this as Jalen Hurts passing slander. The breakout third-year signal-caller has served as the focal point of the league’s second-ranked offense in EPA per play (+0.069) this season and proved plenty capable of making big plays through the air.

Still, the Eagles have gained far more yards on the ground (416) than through the air (269) this postseason. A.J. Brown ranks sixth on this offense in total yards (50) over the past two weeks, and the team has strolled to 38-7 and 31-7 victories like absolutely nothing was wrong. Backup running back Kenneth Gainwell has been the most productive member in terms of total yards (195).

The reason why the Eagles haven’t felt the need to force-feed their alpha wide receiver this postseason is because we’re looking at one of the best-rushing offenses in recent memory. Overall, Philly is averaging +0.164 EPA per run play this postseason – only three offenses managed to post a better mark passing the ball during the regular season.

The EPA per run play leaderboard over the past 10 seasons is as follows (including playoffs):

  1. 2018 Los Angeles Rams (+0.047)
  2. 2022 Eagles (+0.036)
  3. 2020 Baltimore Ravens (+0.021)
  4. 2019 Ravens (+0.020)
  5. 2017 Dallas Cowboys (+0.012)
  6. 2021 Eagles (+0.010)

Hurts has enabled two of the top-six most efficient rushing offenses of the last decade. Not too shabby! Now just imagine what the group could look like this Sunday if he managed to improve upon his paltry playoff 5.6 yards per pass attempt.

Eagles‘ mindset on how to pick up a fourth-and-short

The Eagles (82.1%, No. 4) rank among the league’s top-five offenses in converting fourth downs with three or fewer yards to go. Additionally, Philadelphia (28, second) was more willing to line up on fourth-and-short than anybody other than the Detroit Lions. The Eagles have thrown the ball on 39.3% of their fourth-and-short situations (19th), as they have been far more willing to pick up the necessary yardage on the ground.

Philadelphia has proven to thrive at picking up the few yards needed on fourth down all season long, attempting to do so much more often both overall and via the ground game. It’d make sense if PFF’s single-best offensive line continues to pave the way for Hurts to convert his patented QB sneaks when needed.

Eagles‘ pass rush is playing ridiculously well

The Eagles (No. 2)  rank among the league’s top-tier regular season defenses in “Havoc.” Philadelphia's front seven has largely been awesome at creating negative plays all season long.

Still, this group has taken things to another level during the postseason – especially when it comes to getting after the passer. Credit to the Eagles (39.8% pressure rate, second) for doing a good job getting after the opposing quarterback during the first 18 weeks of the season, but in the playoffs, they (60.7%) have posted a mark that ranks higher than what the first-place Cowboys (40.8%) managed to put forward during the regular season.

EDGE Haason Reddick (12) has been the most-disruptive Philly defender. He will need to bring his A-games in order for Philadelphia's defense to have any hope of slowing down its respective high-octane opponent.



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