Q&A: Birds Timid Game Plan Vs. Cards Blitz
While the Philadelphia Eagles remain the last undefeated team in the NFL, they’re also showing some signs of vulnerability.
On the latest episode of “Q&A” on Inside The Birds, former Eagles Jason Avant and Quintin Mikell reviewed the team’s latest win against the Arizona Cardinals, discussed current concerns, and previewed the upcoming Sunday night matchup against the Dallas Cowboys.
Quintin Mikell: “I would say they took a step back in trusting [Jalen] Hurts and in terms of allowing him to run the game. When you’re calling and trying to pinpoint when you’re going to run a screen based on when they’re going to blitz, I think you’re saying, ‘We’re a little bit nervous and we don’t want him to make mistakes, let’s take it out of his hands.’ I think play calling-wise, it was a step backwards for Jalen.”
Jason Avant: “You have to give the quarterback the options within the route to be able to get the ball out of his hands, whether there’s a built in hot (route), a blitz option, a zero option, and-or a rapport with his guys.”
Mikell: “I think the screen game kind of took over for a couple of those runs. I don’t think the run game was as effective as it has been, but I do believe that when they needed it and they went away from trying to chuck the ball all over the field and run screens, it came back at the right time, especially at the start of that second half. But I do think the injuries and the entire game plan being surrounded around the screen game took away from the run game a bit.”
Avant: “We didn’t give up on the run. They were doing a good job of stopping the run and putting us in some third downs and some long third downs, so it wasn’t a game where we just abandoned the run. We used it effectively, so I’m not mad at this performance. It wasn’t a 200-yard performance, but there are some games that are going to be like this sometimes.”
Mikell: “I’m guessing that it was a game plan type of deal, but it’s 17-17 and the offense was struggling a little bit in terms of getting the ball downfield. A.J. is supposed to be your guy. I trust him 100 percent on the 50-50 ball down the field against (Byron) Murphy.
Avant: “I just thought that it was the game plan. I thought the Cardinals had a good game plan for us. From a coach’s perspective, when you have a team that blitzes a lot and plays two safeties and they’re doing it out of Cover 4 a bunch, you don’t have that initial opportunity to get rid of the ball and throw the fade down the field because of the safety. And then you have two fast safeties in Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker that can cover a ton of ground, so you just don’t want to throw the ball in the air haphazardly…When you look at the defensive game plan, it was executed properly. If we had been able to pick up a blitz, I’m sure we would have been able to get the ball down the field a lot more effectively.”
Avant: “I don’t think that the old Jonathan Gannon is gone. I never thought that. I think he’s playing with better players and better players make you look better. I’m not saying that we haven’t blitzed a little bit more, but it’s not in his nature to go out there and 40 percent of the time blitz you, that’s just not who he is. He can do more, but that mentality isn’t going anywhere.”
Mikell: “I thought there were too many packages. Sometimes you just have to line up in your nickel coverage, call the play, and let it ride. You can’t match everything, you can’t go wit for wit, especially when you’re on the road in Arizona, where it’s hot, against a team that’s running like NASCAR out there. Your guys are going to get tired too and that’s where the mental mistakes start to happen. Me as a player, I would have hated to be in a game like that, where your back is against the wall and we’re just constantly switching guys in and out. To me, that was the problem I had in that game. I thought it was a tough game to call, but I don’t think he did himself any favors by trying to match personnel constantly.”
Avant: “When you have a guy like Micah Parsons, I don’t care who you have at left tackle or right tackle with Lane (Johnson), we’re going to have to come up with a game plan to stop him and Demarcus Lawrence. They’re nightmares. That’s the strength of their defense and the strength of their team in general. Malik Hooker is playing at a high level, Trevon Diggs is a ball guy, so you have two ball guys in the back end. That’s very rare for a defense to have two really good ball guys. I think the matchup is our offense versus their defense. I think we can stop their run and I don’t think they have the same explosive weapons. I’m not trying to discredit them, I’m just saying the game is going to be won with how well our offense does versus their defense.”
– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com
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