The Philadelphia Eagles flex on the NFL
Old school football with new-school guts propel Nick Sirianni's crew. Also inside: Why the Bills' defense has no excuse for Sunday's loss, the Lions' one roster flaw exposed and... Green Bay? Hello?
The Miami Dolphins invent plays, and it’s fun. Mike McDaniel is a coach driving the X’s and O’s into the future, obsessed with flummoxing NFL defenses schematically. Plays are decorated in jet motions and funky alignments to confuse the 11 players on the other side of the ball.
Force them to think an extra split-second and, whoosh, there goes Tyreek Hill.
One can only imagine what Miami’s closed practices and meetings resemble. When experimentation reigns.
The Philadelphia Eagles are not the Dolphins.
When this team lines up to go for it on fourth and (a long) one from its own 26-yard line with 10 minutes to go, everyone in the stadium… everyone at home… everyone who hasn’t been in a coma since last season knows exactly what’s coming — the “Tush Push” — and the opposition is still powerless. Jalen Hurts gains two yards. Philly bleeds the clock. By the time Kenneth Gainwell punches in a touchdown, it’s 31-17 and there’s only 4:46 left.
Watching this sequence unfold dusted off memories of Super Bowl Week in Arizona. When I sat down with Eagles offensive linemen to discuss the genius on their own staff, O-Line coach Jeff Stoutland, they had Stoutisms to share. How the coach “cold calls” them during meetings. In front of everyone, he’ll put you on the spot with a question: What plays do we have on this down and distance? or What defensive formations are we going to get in the red zone? He'll remind linemen that “hungry dogs run faster,” so they drive defenders downfield with a purpose.
And one other go-to Stoutland line really resonates on a night like this against Miami: “10,000 kicks!”
This one’s a reference to a Bruce Lee quote: “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” The quote hangs on a wall for all to see daily. The Eagles would prefer their linemen perfect one play vs. trying to mentally process too much at once.
A lesson that clearly applies to this Eagles’ offense as a whole.
Broadcasts of Eagles games should come with a “Don’t try this at home” disclaimer for other pro coaches. There’s a beauty to simplicity, but only if it’s done right. Through Philadelphia’s 5-0 start, something seemed off with this offense. Then, the New York Jets upset the Eagles and head coach Robert Saleh declared his defense was embarrassing elite quarterbacks. Those who doubt Hurts started to get loud again.
This victory over Miami was a statement to the rest of the league that they’re still the top dog in the NFC.
Mainly because the Eagles do it their way.
It’s one thing to be Brandon Staley and the L.A. Chargers on fourth down from your own 26. His cavalier nature could’ve (should’ve?) cost him his job the last two seasons.
It’s quite another to be Nick Sirianni and the Eagles.
Inside today’s Morning After column:
How the Eagles healthy mix of new- and old-school football led to a statement win.
Why the Buffalo Bills have zero excuses on defense. This loss to the Patriots was embarrassing.
Dan Campbell’s crew received quite a wake-up call in Baltimore. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was the human alarm, exposing one potential flaw in the Lions’ build.
Green Bay. Yikes. This 2023 season took a very dark turn for the worst in Denver.
Officiating in the NFL hasn’t been this terrible since the replacements in 2012. Indy was screwed and Miami has every reason to be upset after last night.