AbsolutAnalysis: Super Bowl Defenses, Part 1

In Part One of his look at the defenses of the Super Bowl teams, Matt Lathrop, Seahawks.NET's Xs and Os guru, takes a look at the game plan the Philadelphia Eagles used to put the kibosh on Michael Vick and finally advance to the Big Game.

Not long ago, the idea occurred to me to do a column on the two Super Bowl teams this week, breaking down their defenses. Since I was unable to do my normal column this season for the Seaawks, I felt this would be a good opportunity to try and maintain my status of "writer" for the site. I went ahead and recorded the tendencies for each defense, including when they blitz and who they blitz. As a change from my Seahawks column, I included the coverage shell that was run on each play, as well as the cornerback "technique;" whether he was playing a press, medium cushion, or a soft alignment. I figured this type of information would be of interest to our readers, for various reasons. I added some commentary to supplement the numbers -some thoughts that I jotted down while watching the games. Hope you enjoy...here are a few random thoughts.

The very first thing I notice when watching the Eagle defense, is the discipline of the Linebackers. Often it looks as though they are all sent on run blitzes, or manned up on the running backs. They are so quick on the first step it looks like they are almost always being sent to the right spot by the coordinator Jim Johnson. My first thought was a simple backfield read, like this; say the defense is lined up in a traditional 4-3 stack, and you are the Will linebacker. If Atlanta is in a weak offset I, your read may be the FB. For example, if the FB comes (to your side of the ball), you meet him at the line of scrimmage, and if he goes (away), then your read moves to the second back. Of course, the Eagles backers did this so well, there had to be a bit more to it than that. After watching some more film, it started to look like Jeremiah Trotter, the Mike linebacker, was reading Michael Vick's first step. If Vick opened to his (Trotter's) right, then that's where Trotter was headed. Of course, I have no way of being certain if this was the case, but watching the reaction of Philly's LB crew, I certainly wouldn't doubt it. They were much to fast to react, often getting to the spot before the ball carrier did. They were very impressive in technique and assignment discipline, with the play side LB attacking, and the backside scraping and filling. When it came down to it, they played smart, outstanding fundamental football.

There were also a few things that stood out to me in regards to coverage adjustments for the Eagles as well. Atlanta did not appear to present a vast amount of unusual looks and motions - but when they did, Philly remained in relatively basic shells that they also used against similar, more common formations and motions. For example, Atlanta showed a compressed double wide formation on occasion - kind of a twins bunch look. Philly didn't seem to react with an isolated defense for this, a look that was shown to other formations with similar structure. The Eagles were certainly prepared for what they were going to see, and had little trouble lining up in coverage, or rotating and adjusting to shifts and motions.

One issue fans in the Seahawks forums discuss is the depth of our Cornerbacks in alignment. Below you can see how often the Eagles pressed their CB in each situation. I think many Hawks fans will be surprised to see the lack of "press and blitz" that seems to be a common desire in our forum. When the Eagles blitzed, they only pressed both CB's only one time. I also noticed that the when Philly would press, it was often to a single receiver side (i.e. the non-TE side in I formation) and let him play more man to man, and either cheat or rotate coverage to the far side.

You may notice that in the Total Distributions chart at the bottom of the page, it appears the Philly didn't blitz too often. Though this is the case, it can be somewhat deceiving. First, the Eagles often brought an 8th man into the box, usually a strong safety. This sometimes made the coverage appear to be inverted, and helped them focus more on the running game, and attempt to make Vick beat them with his arm. Second, they keys that appeared to be given to the LB's made almost every play look like some form of run blitz. They were so fast to the point of attack and were often pursuing at an angle through the RB, not at a deeper angle. Finally, when Johnson did bring some heat, he tended to bring it from everywhere. If you look through the charts, you will see that whenever he dialed up a blitz, he did so with a LB and a player from the secondary.

Key:

Shell - The best I can tell due to camera angle. This applies to Secondary in the simplest form to give an idea of what they're doing. I could be more specific, but it isn't practical for the purpose of this column. If you are interested or looking for some further explanation, please feel free to email me with any questions.

CB alignment: Press - CB within 3 yards, Off - CB 3-8 yards, Soft - CB more than 8 yards

Bold D&D indicates new drive.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES  

1st Quarter

Down and Distance

Blitz?

Who?

Shown, Hidden, Delay

Coverage Shell*

CB Alignment

Offensive Result

1,10
No
3 deep
Off
Scrmbl +2
2,8
No
Rotated 2 deep
Press and Off
Run +1
3,7
No
Faked
Man Free

Press and Soft

Scrmbl +1
1,10
No
2 deep
Press
Run +9
2,9
No
Man Free
Press
Run +1
1,10
No
2 deep, SS inverted to 3 deep
Off and Soft
PI
1,10
Yes
OLB, ILB, SS
Shown
Man Free
Off
Run +1
2,9
No
Man Under
Press and Soft
Pass +2
3,7
No
Rotated quarters
Off
Pass Inc
1,10
No
Man Free
Press and soft
Pass Inc
2,10
No
2 deep
Press
Run +9
3,1
No
Man Free (Dbl Team TE)
Press
Penalty (INT)
1,10
No
3 deep
Off
Run, + 2
2,8
No
Man
Press and Off
Scrmbl +13
1,10
No
3 deep
Soft
Run +7
2,3
No
3 deep
Press and Soft
Run +2
3,1
9 in box
Man
Press
Run +0
4,1
No
Man
Press
Run +4

2nd Quarter

Down and Distance

Blitz?

Who?

Shown, Hidden, Delay

Coverage Shell

CB Alignment

Offensive Result

1,10
No
2 Rotated to 3 deep
Off
Pass +3
2,7
No
Run +2
3,5
No
Quarters
Soft
Run +7
1,10
No
3 deep
Soft
Pass + 8
2,2
Yes
CB, OLB
Shown
Man Free
Off
Run +4
1,G
Yes
SS, OLB, ILB
Shown
Man
Off
Run +0
2, G
Yes
S, ILB
Hidden
Man
Off
Pass Inc
3, G
Goalline Front
Rotated 2/Man
Off
Sack
1,10
No
3 deep
Soft
Run +3
2,7
No
2 deep
Off
Pass +13
1,10
No
2 deep
Off
Run -3
2,13
No
Rotated 2
Off
Penalty (Inc)
1,10
No
Quarters
Press and off
Pass +30
1,10
Yes
SS, OLB, ILB
Hidden
Man
Press
Run +10 TD
1,10
No
Quarters prevent
Press and soft
Pass Inc
2,10
No
Quarters
Press and soft
Sack
End of Half

3rd Quarter

Down and Distance

Blitz?

Who?

Shown, Hidden, Delay

Coverage Shell

CB Alignment

Offensive Result

1,10
Can't tell
2,4
No
3 deep
Soft
Run +7
1,10
No
2 deep
Press
Sack
2,19
Cant tell
3,15
Yes
OLB, ILB, FS
2 Shown, 1 Delay
Man
Soft
Pass +6
1,10
No
2 deep
Off
Pass INT
1,10
No
Man Free
Press and Soft
Pass Inc
2,10
No
3 deep
Off
Run +4
3,6
Yes
NB, OLB
Hidden
Man Free
Soft
Pass +33
1,10
No
3 deep
Soft
Run +0

4th Quarter

Down and Distance

Blitz?

Who?

Shown, Hidden, Delay

Coverage Shell

CB Alignment

Offensive Result

2,10
Yes
SS, ILB, OLB
Shown
3 deep
Soft
Pass Inc
3,10
No
2 deep
Press
Run +0
1,10
No
2 deep
Press
Pass +2
2,8
No
Quarters
Press and Off
Sack
3,11
No
Quarters
Press and Soft
Pass Inc
1,10
No
2 deep
Soft
Pass Inc
2,10
No
2 deep
Press and Soft
Pass Inc
3,10
No
Quarters
Soft
Pass +8
4,2
No
3 deep
Press
Pass +23
1,10
No
2 deep
Press
Pass Inc
2,10
No
Quarters
Off
Pass Inc
3,15
No
2 deep
Press
Pass +1
4,14
No
Quarters
Press
Pass Inc
Game Over

Total Distributions

Down

# Of Blitzes

% of time Blitzed

Shown vs Hidden

% Press (at least 1 CB)

% Press (Both CB)
         

1st

3/22
14%
9/22 - 41%
5/22 - 23%

2nd

3/19
16%
9/19 - 47%
2/19 - 11%

3rd

2/12
17%
6/12 - 50%
4/12 - 25%

4th

0/3
0%
3/3 - 100%
3/3 - 100%
         

Total

8/56
14%

13 Shown
7 Hidden
1 Delay

27/56 - 48%
14/56 - 25%

I hope you enjoyed the column. If you have any problems or complaints, email my boss. Otherwise, I'd love to hear from you.


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