All-22: What’s Going On In Eagles’ Secondary?

Earlier this week, Todd Bowles talked about how the Eagles had problems executing a “high school cover-3” against the Panthers.

What did he mean? Let’s take a look at a few of the plays to see what exactly is going on with this defense right now.

Play 1: Last week, it was Nate Allen not maintaining his deep responsibility in Cover 3. This time around, it looked to be Kurt Coleman. Cover 3 means three defensive backs split the deep part of the field into thirds. The free safety (in this case, Coleman), is responsible for the middle, while Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie take the outside.


The Panthers only send three receivers into routes. The wide receiver at the top of the screen runs the SLUGGO or the slant-and-go. The two tight ends, who were lined up at the line of scrimmage, release into their routes.

A pump-fake by Cam Newton on the slant moves Coleman to that side of the field, which is a huge problem, because it leaves tight end Gary Barnidge wide-open.


Coleman tries to hustle back, but it’s too late. Newton fires to Barnidge for the 24-yard touchdown.


Play 2: Andy Reid explained what happened on the next touchdown during his Monday news conference.

“From the slot we’ve got people coming off both edges and it was only supposed to be off one edge. That allowed the guy to be free,” he said.

Let’s take a look. The Eagles appear to be going with quarters coverage – defensive backs splitting the deep part of the field into fourths. When the ball is snapped, Coleman blitzes, and Allen rolls over to that side to take his place.


Asomugha (bottom of your screen), Boykin, Allen and Rodgers-Cromartie (top of your screen) are in four-deep coverage. The only problem? Boykin blitzes when he’s not supposed to.


That leaves Brandon LaFell running down the seam all alone for the 43-yard touchdown. No one’s got the “quarter” between Asomugha and Allen.

Play 3: Let’s end on a positive note, shall we? I think Vinny Curry has a chance to become a fan favorite – assuming, of course, that he performs on the field. He got off to a good start in his debut Monday night.

Here, he makes a nice inside move from right defensive end spot and gets to Newton.


But Curry runs into a problem many defensive linemen have against Newton – finishing the job. He ends up on the ground as Newton scrambles away.

The key is what happens next. Curry bounces right back up and hustles to the ballcarrier. By my count, he covered more than 15 yards. And look who eventually makes the tackle 1 yard past the line of scrimmage.


It’s Curry. Good job by the rookie of making the most of his limited opportunities. He figures to be a regular part of the rotation the rest of the way.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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