Another reason the A.J. Brown acquisition could be a home run for the Eagles

Pro Football Focus analyst Conor McQuiston found that A.J. Brown excels against press. Here’s what that means for the Philadelphia Eagles.

When the Philadelphia Eagles executed a draft-night trade for wide receiver A.J. Brown, many analysts were quick to highlight how the move could be a home run for the Eagles and their offense. As our own Laurie Fitzpatrick noted recently, the move allows Philadelphia to slide Brown into the “alpha” role in their receiving room.

But as an analyst for Pro Football Focus found, there is another aspect to his game that — when applied to the Eagles’ offense — makes this another reason the trade could be a wild success.

PFF’s Conor McQuiston is studying how NFL receivers fare against press coverage, and as he found, Brown produces at a level almost off the charts:

As you can see from this chart, Brown posted the best “Yards Per Route When Pressed” among NFL wide receivers last season, edging out both Tyler Lockett and Justin Jefferson. Brown was also targeted the most often among NFL receivers when pressed, again edging out Jefferson.

Why might this matter for the Eagles? Try and find their other receivers from last season. For example, both Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor are in the bottom left quadrant of the chart, meaning they were below league average in both categories. Rookie DeVonta Smith, the Eagles’ first-round selection, was above average in targets, but below average in yards per route.

This is something that you could see on film, particularly when studying the rookie. While Smith produced at a great level for a rookie last season, catching 64 passes (on 104 targets) for 916 yards and five touchdowns, he did struggle when he was pressed.

For example, on this snap from Philadelphia’s loss on Wild-Card Weekend to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith aligns on the line of scrimmage and to the left side of the offense, working against Jamel Dean. Smith tries to release vertically, but Dean is able to get a jam on him and pin him towards the boundary, forcing Jalen Hurts to go elsewhere with the football:

However, when you study Smith’s explosive plays from last season, you’ll note that the majority came with him either working against off coverage, or operating with a freer release off the line, whether due to working out of the slot, in a bunch or in a stack.

For example, on this play against the Denver Broncos, Smith aligns as a “Z” receiver in a bunch to the right, and runs an out-and-up against fellow rookie — and former teammate — Patrick Surtain II. Given the benefit of a free release, Smith gets into his route quickly, and works free for the touchdown:

Here against the Chargers, Smith starts out of the slot and runs a deep post route against man coverage, and once more with the benefit of a free release, he works himself open for a big play in the fourth quarter:

Brown’s ability to operate against press should have a trickle-down impact on Smith’s ability to produce next season. Not only will Brown slide into the “alpha” role in the Philadelphia offense as noted by Laurie Fitzpatrick earlier this summer, but he can slide into the traditional “X” receiver role for the Eagles. That frees up Smith to operate more out of the slot, or in other formations where he can have an easier release off the line.

According to charting data, Smith aligned wide on 877 of his 1,003 snaps last year, in stark contrast to the 97 plays where he lined up in the slot. Using Smith out of the slot more will give him better opportunities in the passing game, and when paired with Brown’s ability against press, that should be a huge boost for the Eagles’ passing attack.

How CB James Bradberry fits the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive schemes

Touchdown Wire’s Laurie Fitzpatrick dives into James Bradberry’s film to see how the veteran cornerback will improve the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense.

The Philadelphia Eagles filled some holes on the defensive side of the ball this offseason. One of those moves was the acquisition of cornerback James Bradberry.

Bradberry was a second-round pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2016 and he went on to start all 60 games over four seasons. In 2020, the Giants signed Bradberry as a free agent and he ended up making the Pro Bowl that year. In 2021, he posted 17 passes defensed, two fumble recoveries and a career high four interceptions.

Initially, Bradberry had 11 teams interested and his agents narrowed it down to three teams, from which he chose the Eagles. This is what he said when asked about his decision:

“I looked at the overall scheme, and I think it fit my ability the best. I saw the guys that they put with the D-line, and as a DB, sometimes your best friend is the D-line.”

When it comes to scheme, Bradberry is a long cornerback who excels in zone coverage. Let’s go to the film and dive deeper into how he fits in the Eagles’ defense!

Cowboys 51, Eagles 26 = Scorigami 1,072 in NFL history

A 51-26 NFL final had never happened until Saturday night

A night of firsts in Philadelphia.

Dak Prescott threw 5 touchdown passes for the first time in his career.

And … the final score of Dallas 51, Philadelphia 26 made the game a Scorigami.

Yes, there had never been an NFL game played its storied history that ended with a 51-26 final score.

The result was aided by Greg Zuerlein, who missed a PAT with 1:45 left in the half when Dallas took a 23-17 lead.

The teams also put 27 points on the board in the final 15 minutes with Philly failing on a 2-point conversion after a score with 1:50 left.

Breaking down Jalen Hurts against the Giants

Taking a deep dive into Jalen Hurts’ performance against the New York Giants.

With their 34-10 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles kept their playoff hopes alive. The Eagles currently sit in the seventh and final playoff spot with games against Washington and Dallas in the final two weeks of the season. Philadelphia currently has a 61% chance of making the postseason, according to the New York Times’ Playoff Simulator, and with a win Sunday against Washington those odds would increase to 85%.

Of course, the discussion about the Eagles goes beyond this year, and playoff odds. One could make the case that Philadelphia is a year ahead of schedule in their rebuild, as they have a trio of first-round selections in next year’s draft. That, naturally, raises the question of whether the Eagles will address the quarterback position.

In Sunday’s win, current starter Jalen Hurts completed 17 of 29 passes for 199 yards and a pair of touchdowns, without an interception. From watching Hurts this season, there have been continued signs of growth and development. However, there remain areas where he can improve, even in areas where progress has been made. Studying his outing against the Giants offers more examples of the strides he has made as a passer, and where he can continue to improve.

(And we will discuss the play near the goal line that caught the attention of many):

 

Lane Johnson notches the big man touchdown

Right tackle Lane Johnson accomplished something for the first time in his storied NFL career: A touchdown reception.

After a shaky first half — to say the least — the Philadelphia Eagles offense came to life in the second half, with quarterback Jalen Hurts throwing a pair of touchdown passes as the home team pulled away from the visiting New York Giants. As one might expect, the first of those scoring plays came with rookie wideout DeVonta Smith on the receiving end. The second found its way towards a rather unexpected target.

Right tackle Lane Johnson.

With the Eagles facing a 2nd and goal early in the fourth quarter, Hurts aligned under center and faked a handoff to running back Boston Scott. Johnson, aligned at the tight end spot on the right as an eligible receiver, blocks momentarily before releasing into the flat. After carrying out the run fake Hurts scans downfield for a moment, before spotting his RT wide open:

Johnson high-stepped into the end zone, before launching himself into the front row of the stands where a bevy of Eagles fans were waiting to celebrate with him.

After a long NFL career, Johnson finally has his first NFL score:

Washington gets the pick after a Philly kick

A kick led to a pick for Washington’s Landon Collins

Don’t put the blame for this interception on Jalen Hurts.

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert had the ball in his hands and managed to mishandle it and kick it to up into the waiting hands of Landon Collins.

Eagles’ Darius Slay with pick-six against Saints

Eagles’ DB Darius Slay found the end zone for the second straight week

Philadelphia Eagles DB Darius Slay is making a habit of finding the end zone.

A week after returning a fumble for a touchdown, Slay picked off Trevor Siemian of the New Orleans Saints and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown that gave the Eagles a 27-7 lead.

The return against the Broncos in Week 11 was a bit more challenging.

The fans in Philly have to be thrilled as the Eagles came into Sunday’s game against the Saints winless at the Linc in 2021.

Darius Slay with remarkable 82-yard fumble return for Eagles’ TD

Darius Slay with a fantastic fumble return for Philadelphia Eagles’ touchdown

Denver was moving toward a potentially game-tying touchdown at the end of the third quarter on Sunday at Mile High.

Melvin Gordon was given the ball and the running back coughed it up — big time.

Philadelphia Eagles’ DB Darius Slay came away with the ball. He then fumbled it, picked it up, and was off to the races.

Slay’s return was good for 82 yards and gave the Eagles a 27-13 lead after the PAT.

The call on Eagles’ radio is below.

Eagles’ Lane Johnson with powerful interview on struggles with mental health

Lane Johnson sat down with Jay Glazer to discuss his battles with anxiety and depression

The Philadelphia Eagles’ Lane Johnson sat down with FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer for an open and compelling interview on his struggles with mental health, anxiety, and depression.

Johnson returned to the Eagles on Sunday as they faced the Detroit Lions.

Glazer also spoke about his personal battles and challenges with mental health.

Mind-blowing stat about how bad Eagles’ pass defense has been

How bad has the Eagles’ defense been in the last 5 weeks?

The Philadelphia Eagles were eaten alive by Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday, 33-22.

Carr was 31-of-34 for 323 passing yards with a pair of TD throws and one pick.

Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia came up with an incredible factoid/nugget on how awful the Eagles have been against opposing quarterbacks in their last handful of games.

Previously:

  • Tom Brady was 34-of-42 for 297 yards and 2 TDs.
  • Sam Darnold failed everyone by going 21-of-37
  • Patrick Mahomes was 24-of-30 for 278 yards and 5 TDs
  • Dak Prescott was 21-of-26 for 238 yards and 3 TDs

If you are looking for a fantasy football quarterback in Week 8, that would be Jared Goff, whose Detroit Lions play host to the porous Philadelphia defense.