SUPER BOWL LII: How to Beat the Eagles’ Defense

It’s the Thursday before Super Bowl Sunday and we’re already getting excited. So let’s kick back and relax with a look at how the Eagles defense can be beaten.

When you look at the success that the Eagles have had this season, you cannot ignore the work that their defense does. Like the offense, it is a top five unit with a superb coordinator running it, in this case Jim Schwartz. They absolutely destroyed the Vikings‘ offense in the NFC championship game. How can the Patriots beat them?

1. Pick on the back ups

Whilst the Eagles boast quality players as starters in all positions, there are areas where they don’t have a lot of strength in depth. Najee Goode had to pick up the MLB slot for the injured Dannell Ellerbe against Minnesota and struggled for huge sections of the game. Whilst the line rotates Derek Barnett and former Patriot Chris Long in and out along with the regular starters, beyond them there isn’t a lot to speak of. And those linemen need breathers, because they play fast and hard, so there will be times where there is, frankly, a lesser player in the line-up to be exploited.

2. Don’t be soft

Schwartz believes in competing for every ball, no matter where the Eagles are on the pitch. Their linebackers, in particular, will fight for everything. This means that you have to be willing to do so, too, and exploit the natural advantage that an offense has in already knowing where the ball will be going. Receivers cannot afford to just wait for the ball to come to them, either – as was shown with Patrick Robinson‘s early interception of Case Keenum in that championship game.

3. Get the ball out

The Eagles were the top-ranked team for rushing the quarterback during the regular season. The key to avoiding that rush is very simple – get rid of the ball quickly. Several teams have tried to extend the quarterback’s time in the pocket by using different blocking concepts, but the Philly linemen are, on the whole, too big, strong and fast to be stopped by a full back or even a tight end*. Quick releases, even if only for short yardage, are a better solution.

4. Up the tempo

One surefire way to wear down a big, aggressive, defensive front like Philadelphia’s is simply to keep them on the field for as long as possible. The higher the tempo the offense can play at, the harder it becomes for an all-action defense like this. So long as the game allows it, look to get each play off as quickly as possible to allow little or no time for defensive substitutions. Remember how the Falcons‘ defense faded in Super Bowl LI? That could easily happen to the Eagles this year.

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Richard O'Hagan
Writer on such diverse topics as sport, music, theatre, law and politics. Author of 'Eddie the Sheep'. Supporter of underachieving teams, including the Chicago Bears from before that brief, heady, period in the mid-1980s when they were actually any good. All I want for Christmas is a Jim McMahon away shirt.
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