January 5, 2023   5 MIN READ

‘Too Pass Happy’

Q&A: Birds Straying From Early Season Identity


Entering the final week of the regular season coming off two straight losses, the Philadelphia Eagles’ biggest weaknesses are becoming clear.

On the latest “Q&A” podcast on Inside The Birds, former Eagles standouts Jason Avant and Quintin Mikell voiced their current frustrations with the team and how to fix the issues.

Jonathan Gannon

Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon’s unit has struggled in pass coverage over recent weeks

Pass Coverage

Avant: “If you’re going to play man, make them press. Every offense is going to go to the player that is off when you play man coverage. It’s going to happen 100% of the time if he’s part of the route. If you play Chris Olave in the slot and you make him off against Josiah Scott, Olave is getting the ball. Press him and make the QB go through his progression.”

Mikell: “It’s been the same thing each week, attacking the middle. They’re playing too much zone, playing soft, playing loose and not aggressive football in that back seven in terms of the middle of the field. That’s why everyone’s so frustrated. I would rather see a nickelback in press get beat over playing soft and letting them dink and dunk down the field, because that’s telling me you’re challenging them. When the defensive coordinator is calling plays where these guys in the back seven are playing off, it just looks soft. That’s not championship football.”

Gardner Minshew

Mikell: “It almost seemed like this game plan was designed for Jalen (Hurts) and he ended up not being able to go. Some of the plays, some of the runs, that’s not what Gardner Minshew does. Minshew is from the Air Raid offense, Mike Leach, spread them out, dink and dunk down the field. He’s not a zone read, pull it and run, he’s not a stand in the pocket, step up into a defensive tackle and make the hard throw over the middle, that’s not his game. Gardner looked uncomfortable the entire game, unsure where to go.”

Avant: “This is what it comes down to: KYP – know your personnel, and KTP – know their personnel. The Saints have stopped a lot of good offenses that pass the football, because they have Tyrann Mathieu, who’s a ball hawk. You couple that with Daniel Sorenson, they have four years of playing with each other and knowing each other like the back of their hand in Kansas City. That alone right there is going to make a defense really good. Add (Bradley) Roby and (Marshon) Lattimore, who are really good at press man. It was the game plan that we’ve had since the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yes, it’s been successful to us, but you have to understand what you’re going against: the second-best passing defense in the league.”

Jonathan Gannon

Avant: “The criticism is fair. It’s the same problems constantly. We understand against the Saints it’s 13 points, but against the Cowboys, it’s 40 points, against the Bengals and Chiefs it would be 50 points, against the 49ers it would be 35 points. We see where it could lead. That’s been the history when we’ve played good teams, not just this year but last year. The personnel can’t continue to save us, they need a game plan where they don’t have to work. The corners are in a bad position in Cover 3 and Cover 4 getting the ball caught on them every single play. Help their talent rather than have them help your coaching. If you call a basic vanilla defense the entire time, when can a corner be aggressive?”

Run Game

Mikell: “This organization has a habit of having a very potent run game, very good running backs, and then for whatever reason getting into this pass happy craziness. You start losing games, guys getting tired on defense, it doesn’t work. One thing that has been proven throughout history is whether you are passing or not, if you can run the ball and play good defense, you’ll have a good shot at any game. This team has gotten too pass happy.”

Avant: “I think it’s based on the game. I’m all for running the football, I do recognize that the Eagles went on a win streak when they came back from the bye and focused on passing the ball first and running the ball second. They have done that throughout the season. However, when you have a glaring weakness, don’t get so caught up in your thing rather than the thing that’s best for the team in these situations. New Orleans’ defense is not great against the run, but great against the pass. That’s caution to run the ball a little bit more, especially to start this game.”

– Benjamin Paul is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com.

Listen to the latest “Q&A” podcast featuring former Eagles standouts Quintin Mikell and Jason Avant:

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