GLENDALE, Ariz. – For the second consecutive day, a high-profile part of the Eagles’ offensive machine seemed to get a bit defensive when pointed to the redundancy of outside screens to combat the blitz-happy Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
After the 20-17 victory it was quarterback Jalen Hurts who deflected away from an idea that worked at times early but quickly fell victim to the law of diminishing returns.
With no trend-buster offered as a curveball, the Arizona defense seemed to get more comfortable and muddled things for the Philadelphia offense.
Modern NFL offenses teach concepts more than plays and this tactic is one of the answers Nick Sirianni and Shane Steichen have built into the offense as a response to the blitz with off-coverage behind it, according to a team source.
Has the extra man or two rushing been combined with press coverage more conventional hot reads like throwing into the void of the blitzing defender would be in play.
The issue on Thursday was Hurts defaulted to the same blitz-buster a little too often which is not the worst thing in the world because he protected the football.
Because Hurts has played at such a high-level early this season too many forget he’s still a very young quarterback and there are still plenty of lessons to be learned.
“That’s just kind of the pace of the game and how it went,” Hurts responded when asked about the sheer number of outside screens before getting a bit defensive. “Y’all didn’t ask me any questions about this same football team last weekend. I said they were really good so here we are after a close game talking about the looks that they gave us.
“I think they flew to the ball. They’re very physical. They play very physical defensively. Up front they gave us some different exotic looks and they did a good job with their scheme. I think we were just able to kind of find a way.”
On Monday it was Nick Sirianni’s turn to address the elephant in the room.
“I think there was probably a lot said about that we threw a lot of screens yesterday. Sometimes that is true,” the coach admitted. “But sometimes it is the hot read that we’re getting out of a bad play when we throw it over there.”
The Eagles did have plenty of designed outside screens as well that added to what came across as staleness.
The scripted openers worked well and the redundancy ultimately kicked in.
“The only guys that know if it’s a screen or a hot is really us as coaches a lot of the times, and players,” Sirianni said. “So sometimes that’s happening.”
Sirianni praised Hurts, however.
“I think Jalen did a good job getting the ball out of his hands,” he said. “Again, did they get us a couple times? Sure. Did we get them a couple times? Yes. It was a good back and forth there.”
If you read in between the lines the Eagles seem to know they got a little complacent and history says they will adjust moving forward.
“We’ll be ready for [the blitz], and different teams present different challenges with that,” said Sirianni.