It’s only been a few days since the Eagles demolished the Denver Defense in a 51-23 victory and with so many offensive highlights, it’s easy to overlook some of the greatness that unfolded. One of the most important passes of the game came very early on and while the rest of the City takes a deep breath for the Bye week, we’re going to take you into the heart of the play, breaking down every moving part that was behind the stunning score. If you haven’t already guessed the play we’re referring too, we’ll let the tape do the talking.
The run pass option (RPO) has been a huge cog in the Eagles offensive success this season and there may be no better example than this 32-yard touchdown to Alshon Jeffery. A pass that set the tone for the game, this was a perfectly executed play across the board.
“It’s just a play.” Said the Eagles Head Coach after the game. “It’s a read option, read the defensive end. It just so happened we were on the right hash. I think [Broncos OLB] Von [Miller] was over there and we knew their D-end was closed a little bit. It’s just something that we build into that play. It’s something that we’ve — it’s a Day-One-training-camp, Day-One-OTA play. And it’s just a one-step hitch-and-go, and we got 21 to bite on the play. Did a great job throwing the ball on the run and Alshon getting in the end zone.”
So, let’s start with the basics.
The Eagles are in an eleven man personnel grouping with Alshon Jeffery lined up against Aqib Talib in press-coverage. With a single safety over the top, the Eagles have plenty of room to make a play. The play itself as previously stated is an RPO. Wentz’s first read is Von Miller, who is circled in green above. If he bites and decides to try and collapse the pocket in order to either stop Ajayi or Wentz, then the window for a huge play opens up with the offensive line pushing to the left.
Wentz fakes the hand off to Ajayi after seeing Miller storm into the backfield. But upon keeping the ball for himself, Miller stops in his tracks. The offensive line does a great hob of opening a lane for Ajayi to charge through, but once the former Dolphin leaves the area, Wentz is left one-on-one with Miller, who refuses to be fooled. If only the same could be said for Talib…maybe this wouldn’t have been a touchdown. Jeffery takes one step and turns in for the screen look. The moment Talib turns his attention to the pocket, it’s all over.
“It was just a zone-read play with that little tag to Alshon there.” Carson Wentz said after the game. “We knew [Broncos CB Aqib] Talib is an aggressive corner, so with that action I just knew I had to get enough time to let Alshon win, and he did the rest.”
Miller then tracks Wentz out of the pocket, but the NDSU product’s ability to throw on the run was on full display. A beautiful rainbow pass into the arms of Jeffery, who by this point had blown past Talib was enough to seal the deal. A complex play, but one executed beautifully by the Eagles Offense.
“…those are plays that you have to rep about two, three, four times a week and make sure you get that timing down.” Pederson said. “Because you don’t just roll out of bed and run those plays. You have to work at it. The guys did a great job, great execution.”
The man at the center of attention was Alshon Jeffery, who on this play scored his first of touchdowns that game. But at the heart of it all, it wouldn’t be possible without the scrambling ability and vision of Carson Wentz. Something that Jeffery was quick to mention.
“I think it starts in practice because we have some great pass rushers in practice there.” The former Chicago Bear explained. “Sometimes he forces around the pocket that we have to scramble in our competition drills. But at the same time, some of that stuff is all credit to Carson. Like he has a heck of a vision. All the credit goes to him.”
The continued use of the run pass option is something that will only elevate this Eagles team and a play-call that highlights the ability of both quarterback and play caller. If they can do this so efficiently against the tenacious Denver Defense…the rest of the league is in for a scare.