EAGLE EYE IN THE SKY
BY FRAN DUFFY
It’s only fitting that the Eagles’ first touchdown of the 2019 season came from DeSean
Jackson in his first game back at Lincoln Financial Field in Week 1 against Washington.
How did that play happen? Let me go to the film to break it down.
2019 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES GAMEDAY MAGAZINE 29
Fran Duffy is the host of the Eagle Eye in the Sky
podcast, an Official Eagles Entertainment podcast.
It’s third-and-10 and the Eagles come out in a 3x1 set. Zach Ertz
lined up as the lone receiver to the left with Jackson, Alshon Jeffery,
and Nelson Agholor on the other side of the formation.
Before the snap, Carson Wentz reads a two-high coverage from
Washington. Look at both safeties, lined up about 13 yards off the
ball just outside the hashes. That alignment tells Wentz that this
could be a form of Cover 2 or Cover 4. Most importantly, it looks
like the deep middle of the field will be open.
The play call for the Eagles, a Dagger concept with Jackson running
deep down the field as a clear-out route for Jeffery’s deep incut,
should work perfect for this coverage call. In theory, Jackson
removes the safeties, and the middle of the field is open for Wentz
to hit Jeffery for a big gain and a first down. This is a staple of the
Eagles’ offense. Jackson’s route serves primarily as a “clear” route
for Jeffery, who is the primary target on this concept.
Things change when the ball is snapped. Both safeties step up
toward the line of scrimmage, while middle linebacker Shaun Dion
Hamilton sprints to the post. Hamilton will be the de facto free
safety on this play, a disguised version of Cover 3.
The corner over Jackson, Josh Norman, is playing with outside leverage,
funneling Jackson inside to his “help.” Jackson flies by, though, and the ball is
already out. Wentz recognized the safeties stepping up, and immediately his
progression changes. Wentz pulls the trigger and drops the ball in a bucket to
D-Jax for a huge play and a touchdown.
This was a great play call on third-and-long, but an even better job by both
Wentz and Jackson. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen teams run this
play where the receiver doesn’t sell the clear-out and isn’t available in case
the quarterback wants to make this throw. Just an awesome touchdown to
kick the season off for the Eagles.