EAGLE EYE IN THE SKY
BY FRAN DUFFY
The Eagles sacked Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson six times the last time
they played at Lincoln Financial Field. A big reason why was outstanding scheming by
defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and the defensive coaching staff. How did they get
Wilson to the ground more than any other team in 2019? Through the use of what is
commonly referred to as the Diamond front.
2019 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GAMEDAY MAGAZINE 29
Fran Duffy is the host of the Eagle Eye in the Sky
podcast, fueled by Gatorade, an Official Eagles
Entertainment podcast. Download new episodes weekly.
The Diamond front is basically a “5-over-5” look for the defense, with five
defenders (typically four defensive linemen and one linebacker) spread
out evenly across, matching up one-on-one against five offensive linemen
One of those matchups, of course, is going to be a smaller linebacker
against a bigger offensive lineman. In this case, it’s linebacker Nigel
Bradham against former All-Pro guard Mike Iupati of the Seahawks. At first
glance, this may not seem like a very favorable matchup for the Eagles. But
it has a domino effect on the rest of the offense.
With Iupati forced to block Bradham, and every other offensive lineman
accounted for, that leaves Fletcher Cox one-on-one with an undersized
center in Joey Hunt. Cox makes quick work of Hunt on this play, driving
him back into Wilson’s lap and creating a sack for Josh Sweat, who comes
looping off the edge.
The beauty of this play is that Bradham didn’t even blitz! He took a step or
two forward, just enough to distract Iupati and keep him from helping his
center, then dropped back as a quarterback spy against Wilson. Iupati ends
up blocking no one on the play.
The Eagles did this several times throughout the afternoon on obvious
passing downs, and Bradham almost always dropped out. Later in the
game, the Seahawks made an adjustment.
Seattle decided to slide their protection toward Cox. No. 70 Iupati, right
in the middle of the picture, slides toward the All-Pro defensive tackle
to help out Hunt in protection. The Seahawks are betting on Bradham
dropping back into coverage on this play.
Insert Malcolm Jenkins, who is in man-to-man coverage against the
running back on this play. Once Jenkins sees that the back is staying in to
protect, he instantly takes after Wilson as an extra blitzer. And there is no
one to account for him! This is commonly referred to as a Green Dog blitz.
Jenkins begins this play as a coverage player, ends it as a blitzer, and comes
away with a half-sack.
The Eagles continue to be very aggressive on defense. They had the best
pass defense in the NFL during the month of November. That level of play
will need to continue down the stretch as the team makes a playoff run in
a quest to take the NFC East.