Cheat Sheet: Eagles Offense Vs. Bucs’ D

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Here are 10 things to know about how the Eagles’ offense matches up with Tampa Bay’s defense.

1. Tampa’s 0-4 record has little to do with its defense. The Bucs rank third overall on D, according to Football Outsiders, and are eighth in scoring (17.5 PPG). They shut out the Cardinals for three quarters in their last game (two weeks ago) before allowing 13 fourth-quarter points. The only touchdown the Bucs allowed came when Arizona started a possession in the red zone following a Mike Glennon interception. The Eagles, meanwhile, rank fifth overall on offense, per Football Outsiders. They are eighth in scoring (27.0 PPG). In their last outing, the Eagles scored 36 points against the Giants, their highest output of the year. Chip Kelly has yet to rule Michael Vick out, but all signs point towards Nick Foles starting.


2. Foles played well last week, completing 16 of 25 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He was 2-for-3 on balls that traveled more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage, per Pro Football Focus. As a team, the Eagles have 30 pass plays of 20+ yards. That’s the most in the NFL. Kelly was hired for games like this. He’s got his backup QB going up against a talented defense. It’ll be fascinating to see what kind of game plan he puts together for No. 9.

3. The Bucs run a 4-3 defense, but will show multiple looks. Their No. 1 focus is stopping the run. Football Outsiders keeps a stat called Stuff Rate. It measures how often a defense stops the run at or behind the line of scrimmage. Last year, the Bucs had a 32.8 percent stuff rate. Not only was that the best mark in the league, but it was the best overall percentage by any team since Football Outsiders started tracking the stat. As a point of reference, the 2000 Ravens Super Bowl team was second at 31.1 percent.

4. The Eagles struggled to run the ball effectively last week, primarily because the Giants used a tactic called a "nut stunt" up front (All-22 here) to get by Jason Kelce and cause disruption in the backfield. But overall, the Eagles are the NFL’s top rushing team, averaging 186.6 YPG. LeSean McCoy leads the NFL with 514 rushing yards and is averaging 5.2 YPC. Tampa comes in as the third-ranked rushing defense, according to Football Outsiders. The Bucs are holding teams to 3.7 YPC (T-7th). And it all starts up front with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.

"Gerald McCoy may be the best defensive [tackle] in the league," Kelly said. "He's explosive, dynamic, he can run. They've got athletic ability on the defensive line, and they're not as big as some of the teams we've played, but they're faster than teams we've played."

4. Kelce was convinced earlier this week that the Bucs would try the same tactic as the Giants to stop the Eagles’ inside zone read. To combat the nut stunt, one thing the offense can do is leave the defensive tackle unblocked and run to the outside.

For example, here Kelce lets Cullen Jenkins by.

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He and Todd Herremans pull around Lane Johnson.

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Foles carries out his fake, and Jenkins is effectively taken out of the play.

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Don’t be surprised if we see the Eagles try the same tactic against McCoy.

5. Tampa’s linebackers are Mason Foster (MLB), Dekoda Watson (SAM) and Lavonte David (WILL). David has blitzed 28 times in four games (per PFF) and leads the team with three sacks. He also is second on the team in tackles, has four passes defended and an interception. David was selected with the 58th pick in the 2012 draft, 12 spots after the Eagles took Mychal Kendricks and one spot before they took Vinny Curry. Foster has played in 36 straight games since the Bucs took him in the third round of the 2011 draft. Eagles tight ends and running backs combined for 12 catches last week. That might be a recurring theme, considering wide receivers not named DeSean Jackson have had trouble getting open. Brent Celek and Zach Ertz have combined for nine catches of 20+ yards. Ertz is averaging 21.4 yards per grab and will likely continue to see a bump in playing time.

6. Tampa’s corners are Darrelle Revis, Johnthan Banks and Leonard Johnson (nickel). Banks is tall (6-2) with long arms and was taken in the second round of April’s draft out of Mississippi State. He made a terrific leaping INT in the end zone vs. the Cardinals, but is obviously the preferred target over Revis. If the Eagles can get Jackson matched up against Banks, they'll have an advantage. The rookie ran a 4.61 at the Combine. At safety, the Bucs signed Dashon Goldson to go along with second-year player Mark Barron.

"I think that pair of safeties is as good as we're going to see in the league," offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said earlier this week.

7. There's been a lot of talk this week about Jackson going up against Revis. Jackson is fifth in the NFL with 525 receiving yards. He has 11 catches of 20+ yards (second to only Torrey Smith) and three touchdowns, one more than he had in 11 games last season. While Revis will certainly man up with Jackson at times, Greg Schiano has come under criticism from the likes of Warren Sapp for not getting the most out of his cornerback.

For example, in the Cardinals game, the Bucs were in Tampa-2 on this play in the third. Revis starts off opposite Larry Fitzgerald, but passes him off. The Bucs have two deep safeties, and the linebacker drops as the middle deep defender.

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Fitzgerald runs a post, Revis passes him off, and he finds the soft spot in the zone in front of the safety,

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The Cardinals picked up 21 yards on the play.

As Fran Duffy pointed out on PhiladelphiaEagles.com, the Bucs have had some success playing the Tampa-2. It’ll be interesting to see how they defend the Eagles. Like most teams, they’ll likely look to stop the run, take Jackson out of the game and make guys like Riley Cooper, Jason Avant and Celek beat them.

8. Cooper has started every game, but has just eight catches on 19 targets for 93 yards in five games. Of the 90 players who have been targeted at least 16 times, Football Outsiders ranks Cooper 74th. He lost some playing time to Jeff Maehl last week. Overall, the Bucs are holding opponents to 6.6 YPA (eighth), but are giving up 60.4 percent completions (16th). Tampa has allowed 13 pass plays of 20+ yards, tied for sixth-fewest.

9. The Bucs have 13 sacks (tied for 14th). No player currently on their roster ranked in the top-50 in sacks in 2012 (per FB Outsiders), but they’ve found ways to scheme up pressure. McCoy is their best pass-rushing defensive lineman. He'll line up in a variety of spots. Clayborn can get after the QB too. David and others will blitz.

10. The Bucs will also throw some crazy stunts at the Eagles. Here, Clayborn sets up at RDE, loops behind two teammates and rushes through the B-Gap between the left guard and left center.

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Communication and execution will be key for the Eagles’ offensive linemen. Lane Johnson was probably the team’s best lineman in pass protection last week, a good sign considering he struggled in that aspect through the first four games.

Extra point: The Eagles have scored touchdowns on just 41.2 percent of their red-zone trips. That ranks 30th in the NFL. Before you assume Foles will solve that problem, remember that he completed just 40.7 percent of his passes in the red zone last year. Tampa ranks second in red-zone defense, allowing TDs just 28.6 percent of the time.

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  • Richard Colton

    Not a matchup that favors the Birds’ offense on paper. If the front seven is effective enough to take Shady out of the game, and Revis and the safeties can bottle up Jackson, who steps up for the Eagles and has a breakout game?

    Maybe a certain 2nd round rookie who’s been getting better every week?

    • G_WallyHunter

      Bingo, I’m considering waiver wiring him and putting him in Flex this week as a hero move? lol huge hero move..

      lost Julio

      • nicksaenz1

        had i not landed jordan cameron in free agency during the preseason id consider picking up ertz n stashing him as a late round keeper for next year. as it stands now, keeping cameron is a no brainer for the 16th rd. might be keeping kenbrell thompkins depending how the rest of this season pans out.

        • G_WallyHunter

          Yeah he might be a late season stasher, maybe helps u out in playoffs. Kembrell has shown some things, but there are some other rookie WRs I’m interested in, namely Keenan Allen and Terrance Williams (more Keenan, he’s carving out a #1 spot in SD, showing lots of potential)

          • nicksaenz1

            Just stashed Allen, thanks…. I like Kenbrell, he seems to be figuring it out with Tom Brady, and the more uncertainty they have with Gronkowski, the more opportunity he has. We’ll see.

        • theycallmerob

          man, we all seem to have similar FFL teams…eerie. I gambled on DJax having a big year, and was all set with him, Julio, and Cobb. Just grabbed Kenbrell myself. And also took Cameron as TE.

          Well played, gentleman.

          Sheil-style extra point: this week, I had to choose between R. Woods (BUF) and Terrance Williams on the waiver wire. Will always refuse to have a cowboy on my team.

          • Brandon Boykin, OLB

            Fellas! Eerily similar fantasy teams! Jordan Cameron in the luckiest pick ever! Kenbrell as well… Unfortunately the guy I’m going against has Peyton vs. the jags………..

          • nicksaenz1

            I feel your pain, Blitzin’ Boykin. I faced Peyton in 2 other leagues, both last week. Let’s just say I didn’t win and not talk about details…

          • GEAGLE

            Why pick Jordan when you can just claim Julian Thomas as an Undrafted FA like I did? I would put my fantasy team against anyone’s in a PPR league:
            Luck
            Brandon Marshall
            Jordy Nelson
            Justin Blackmon
            TY Hilton
            Alshon Jeffries
            Shady
            Reggie Bush
            Giovanni Bernard
            Julian Thomas
            Alex Henry
            KC defense
            ..

          • G_WallyHunter

            Keenan Allen? I was faced with same dilemma this week. Got Djax, Wayne, Julio, thought that would be good all season. Plugging Keenan in this week, he’s slowly developing into the #1 option in SD with M. Floyd on IR…
            I grabbed Terrance too but he stays on bench lol, screw the cowboys

          • nicksaenz1

            I’m in a 2 man keeper where the keepers move up one round each draft and can only be kept for 3 seasons. League started last year and I kept AP in the 1st and T-Rich(he’ll come along soon) in the 4th. Got Colston, Fitz, RG3, D-Jax to round out the top 6. Colston and Fitz are destroying me. Cameron has been a game saver. Hoping they keep feeding him.

    • GEAGLE

      Oh I think ERTZY is def ready to breakout and Folesy could expedite his coming out party…I do believe they can shutdown shady and our run game but I I expect shady to have a monster game as a receiver with Folesy playing

  • Bullwinkle

    Get Shady out in space with short passes. Foles thows these passes well. Let Cooper earn his pay as a blocker.

  • Adam

    This game will be a lot like the KC game… a really good D against a really good O, and a really bad D vs a really bad O.

    Glennon is going to be the deciding factor in this one I think.. He’s absolutely terrible against the blitz. Even just seeing it pre-snap gets him rattled. Gotta think Davis is going to dial it up early and often. But can they get there?

    • poetx99

      glennon sucked in college and was INT prone. they definitely need to pressure the hell out of him and get their best pass rushers on the field during obvious passing situations in order to force some turnovers and shorten the field for the offense.

    • theycallmerob

      This is also what, his 2nd start? Poor kid is in a worse spot on that team than Foles was last year, except with a stud defense and less preparation time. And IMO, Foles was the better prospect.

      If there was ever a time for Davis to show various fronts, especially mixing in more 43 looks to get Curry and Graham on the field, this is it.

      • aub32

        I remember when draft experts were talking, they said Glennon and Foles were pretty much the same guy with Glennon having a bigger arm.

        • theycallmerob

          come on aub. if you watched any of Glennon last week, he looked worse than Foles at any point last season.

          • aub32

            I said what was said of him coming out. I’m not trying to take shots at Foles. What I said was what I heard. I did not say it was my opinion. I didn’t watch Glennon in college. The comparison was made and sounded legit.

  • usmcnole

    If any of you are making the trip to tampa feel free to ask me any questions about the town. I currently live in tampa and have since 2006.

  • Adam

    That stunt seems ridiculously elaborate. If it takes the the DE 4 seconds to get there does it really do that good?

    • Token

      against a few QBs that dont get rid of the ball.

  • aub32

    I didn’t realize they ran a decent amount of cover 2. I hope Schiano is as stubborn as he’s come off in the past. I think our offense’s chacnes of success increase dramatically if we face a significant amount of cover 2 looks.

  • https://www.skinnypost.com/ GayleSaunders

    I sure hope Chip opens up the screen game and fires up the crossing routes!

  • SunShine

    Just cannot afford to turn the ball over. Do not give that Bucs O any life whatsoever.

  • TNA

    I wonder how the eagles can take advantage of Banks being out with the infection. He’s their #2 corner. What’s the report on their #3? This should give Cooper, Ertz and/or Avant more of an advantage. But those Tampa linebackers are fast. Cooper and Avant better come through this week.

  • Dutch

    Easy game to call for Tampa Bay, McCoy, over and through Kelce and Herreman. If neither can come up with a fix to slow up McCoy, game over.

  • GEAGLE

    They have a better defense, but we have a much better running back. Which team can take he RB out the game? If they take shady out the game, but we manage to take Martin out the game. Then we will win this game. if both QBs are forced to win the game, Folesy comes out on top…
    ..
    Now if they shut down our run game and we can’t stop Doug Martin, it becomes a complicated game for us

  • GEAGLE

    Win the turnover battle against a rookie in his second game and you win…Most but not all games are decided by the turnover margin,.Glennon right now isn’t anywhere near ready to overcome losing the turnover battle..

    our defense should be able to force Glennon into ATleast 1 turnover…if FOles takes care of the ball and our skill players and return men don’t cough up the ball we should win this game…can’t imagine Schiano making a rookie throw 40 times and us not coming away with a turnover…a rookie dropping back 40 times, presents 40 opportunities for Curry to create his disruptive havoc in the backfield..
    ..
    we were going to draft Lavonte but they traded up ahead of us to grab him. This week, I prefer playing against Lavonte and the Bucs, then I would playing against Vinny Curry and the Bucs….had the Bucs drafted Curry, he would have 20 games under his belt right now in a 4-3 and we would be getting ready to face Gerald McCoy with Curry lined up next to him….I. Have a feeling that we are lucky to be facing Lavonte and the Bucs instead…because they would not have screwed around with Currys development the way we did

    • Richard Colton

      Judging by how little the coaching staff and front office think of Curry, the Bucs can probably have him this offseason for a 7th rounder.