Eagles Hope They Have Answer For ‘Nut Stunt’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

LeSean McCoy was on fire to start the 2013 season. But in Week 5 against the New York Giants, he encountered a road block.

The Eagles’ NFC East rival used its nose guard to keep Jason Kelce off-balance all game long. The result? McCoy was limited to 46 yards on 20 carries (2.3 YPC).

The Birds’ go-to-work play is the inside zone. So the Giants went into their matchup with the Eagles determined to stop it. And they did just that. Rather than moving laterally, the nose guard would often shoot through the A-Gap between Kelce and the play-side guard. When Kelce tried to defend against that maneuver, the nose guard would then cross his face and penetrate through the backside A-Gap, a technique the Eagles referred to as a nut stunt.

The second meeting between the two teams wasn’t much better. McCoy ran 15 times for 48 yards (3.2 YPC).

A year later, with the ground game struggling, the Eagles are hoping they have answers Sunday night.But they’ll have to prove it on the field, especially considering that David Molk, not Kelce, is starting at center. And Matt Tobin, not Evan Mathis, is starting at left guard.

“We’ve got a couple more things to really beat their scheme,” said Molk. “It’s a tough thing against the inside zone. It really hurts the play dramatically. So it’s just all about understanding that they’re gonna do it and adapting to it.

“No need to get away from the play. It’s a great play. Just gotta know it’s happening.”

Added Lane Johnson: “They would cross the nose guard across the center and it’d affect [us] on the inside zone, so it disrupted us a bunch in the run game last year. We adjusted and I think we’ll be ready for it.

“We have certain calls for that, but the linebackers bump up too. But we have a lot of variations that we’re gonna run this week, mix it up a little bit.”

The Eagles spent plenty of time this week watching film of last year’s matchups. The run game looked better against the Rams, but it’s still obviously nowhere near where it was last season.

As for the Giants, in addition to former Eagles Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, they have second-year defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins playing at a high level. While New York has been just OK against the run this season, it will be a challenge for the Eagles to jump-start their ground game this week.


Lance Zierlein of Rotoworld offers his take on the Eagles’ run-game issues:

Defenders on the perimeter are crashing down hard on the backside paying very little attention to Foles. At some point, if the Eagles want to get their offense back on track, Foles is going to have to start making defenses pay by keeping the ball and gaining chunks of yards in the massive space that is sometimes available to him on zone reads. The other thing he’ll have to do is make secondaries respect his ability to hit them for big plays down the field.

From guard to guard, the Eagles are not very good right now and Lane Johnson looked gassed and sluggish in his first game back from PED suspension. It could take longer for the Eagles to finally get their offense back on track than some people think so don’t expect a magic fix just because they got their right tackle back. The issues in Philadelphia run much deeper than that.

Peter King of The MMQB offers his take on Eagles-Giants:

It’s quite possible that we’ll see a three-way tie for first in the NFC East by the end of Sunday. The 4-1 Cowboys are at Seattle, and both the Eagles and Giants would be 4-2 if New York goes down the turnpike and gets a win (Philadelphia has been ravaged by injuries to its offensive line and managed just two touchdowns in its last 22 possessions).

Manning has won two of his last three at Lincoln Financial Field, but it will be a new on-the-road experience with McAdoo calling the plays. This is going to be a fun rivalry game between two teams that usually take it down to the wire: six of the last nine meetings have been decided by 10 points or fewer, and that’s the kind of game I see happening on Sunday.