How the Philadelphia Eagles Can Find Success in the Playoffs

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The Philadelphia Eagles (9-8) just finished their season with a winning record and a playoff berth. This is quite an incredible feat, as Philadelphia’s expectations heading into the season were low. Philadelphia, a team which has lost every game but one against winning teams this season, is more than likely to get eliminated early in the playoff race. However, there are ways in which the Eagles can keep themselves close in their game(s) and, who knows – maybe even spoil a contender’s Super Bowl hopes.

Philadelphia Eagles Keys to Success in 2022 NFL Playoffs

Run, Run, Run

The Eagles started off their season 2-5 in their first seven games. In these games, the Eagles averaged 23.4 rushing attempts per game, a mark that placed them 28th in the league (per TeamRankings.com). For whatever reason, even with all the talent on their offensive line, head coach Nick Sirianni stubbornly forced quarterback Jalen Hurts to pass the ball, which was unsuccessful both on their passing statistics and on the scoreboard. Since then, however, the Eagles now rank second in the league in average rush attempts per game, at 32.3. They are averaging 4.9 yards per rush attempt, which ranks third in the league behind only Cleveland and Indianapolis.

What this shows is that the Eagles have clearly found their rhythm in the run game. With an elite run blocking offensive line, the Eagles have created incredible running lanes for running backs Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, and Jordan Howard. The Eagles should look to stick with this dominant run game, even in the playoffs. Granted, the Eagles will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quality run defense in the wild card round. However, if they stick with the foundation of their offense, Jason Kelce and company will most definitely find a way to succeed on the ground.

In addition, the Eagles should look to use Jalen Hurts’s mobility to their advantage. Sirianni should move the pocket as much as possible, giving Hurts the opportunity to take off and run if his receivers are blanketed downfield. We should also see Sirianni call some quarterback designed runs, to keep the defense honest and open up even more opportunities for them in the run game. If the Eagles can establish a dominant run game and keep it going, there is a good chance they at least keep the game close. Vegas’s opening lines have the Eagles as 8.5 point underdogs, and a run game should allow them to cover this number at the very least.

Aggressiveness Defensively

The Eagles secondary has been exceptional in 2021. With Darius Slay having a career year, as well as Steven Nelson and Avonte Maddox who have stepped up big time in their secondary, defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon should feel great about his guys holding up in coverage. Despite having this great secondary, the Eagles have the second-lowest blitz percentage, blitzing their opponents on only 12.7% of downs. In the playoffs, Gannon should look to play more aggressive defense, trusting his guys to hold up on the back end and giving his front-seven opportunities to generate pressure.

According to this writer’s charting, Gannon tends to run Cover 1 man defense out of his nickel personnel package the most frequently. However, against a high-powered offense with one of the best quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady, Philadelphia will have to do much more than run Cover 1 as frequently as he does. He will have to show Brady many more looks, and bring pressure on him at times. The Eagles can trust their guys in the secondary to hold up in man coverage, and Gannon will need to show significantly more aggressiveness on defense, and he cannot be afraid to bring pressure on Brady.

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