The Eagles Had Success Moving the Pocket in Denver Win

Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We joked in the past about Jalen Hurts scrambling for his life, rolling to his right, and then heaving the ball out of play. Ultimately, throwing the ball away is never a horrible decision, unless you’re Jared Goff on 4th down, but with Hurts, it became kind of a goofy internet thing, like ‘here he goes again, running backwards and toward the sideline.’

In a curious way, it made you wonder if the Eagles might be able to take that habit and scheme around it. If Hurts has a natural tendency to the break the pocket to his right, why not design something based on that, with complementary route running?

The Birds did that on Sunday, in the 30-13 Denver win.

On the first DeVonta Smith touchdown, Nick Sirianni called a max protect look that featured only two receiver routes:

What you have there is a little play action coming out of the shotgun, and then Jordan Howard continues on a dummy route. He’s not actually becoming a receiver out of the backfield. They keep Quez Watkins in to block with Jack Stoll, and that allows enough time for DeVonta Smith to run an up-and-out double move (which is defended well), and they get a 1v1 shot in the end zone:

There’s not a ton of pocket movement on this play, just a short sprint to get Hurts in position off to the right hash mark.

A more defined roll out took place on the opening drive, with Hurts moving the sticks on a 2nd and 10. This time it’s a quick QB sprint with three receivers to his right:

In this sequence Howard continues off play action, and he’s an extra blocker to help protect Hurts on the sprint. On the back side, they leave Dallas Goedert at home to deal with outside linebacker Jonathon Cooper, while the rest of the O-line blocks down and gives the play time to develop:

One more video clip.

They actually went back to this play to open the fourth drive. Same exact thing. Three receivers right, Howard rolling as a blocker, and then the tight end on the back side stays put to make sure Hurts isn’t brought down from behind:

No luck on that one, but smart of Nick Sirianni to go back to it, since it resulted in a 15 yard gain and first down when they tried it on the opening possession.

I’ll admit I haven’t watched a ton of “the film” this season, but it seems like there’s been more of a concerted recent effort to move the pocket by design, and keep an extra blocker or two home, whereas in earlier games Hurts was running for his life and extending plays on the fly. This is kind of doing the same thing, but on purpose. Extend plays, let receivers do their work, and give them 1v1 opportunities.

Beyond that, Sirianni is mixing shotgun and under center snaps, running the ball more, and just showing a greater variety in general. It does seem like the offense has found a rhythm and identity, and you could certainly point to the fact that they’ve scored 98 points over their last three games as proof. Sure, one of those games was against the Lions, but scoring 24 on the Chargers at home and 30 on the road in Denver is pretty solid.

All good things this week with the Eagles.

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