It took so many things to go right for Washington to pull off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles this past Monday, and it did go right. From all three units, as well as the coaches, the game plan that Washington had was executed at a high level. Run the ball, extend drives, keep Philadelphia's offense off the field, and be an opportunistic defense when that unit is on the field. As a result, it contributed to one of Washington's most lopsided time-of-possession victories in a long time.
Before the Commanders take on the Texans tomorrow at 1 p.m. EST, here are some key plays throughout Washington's game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Context: 1st quarter, 2nd and 7.
Washington is running a form of a power-counter run on this play. Scott Turner utilizes TE Logan Thomas as a lead blocker in the hole and TE Armani Rogers on a kick-out block. RG Trai Turner and RT Cornelius Lucas also execute a very good combination block on Eagles 3-tech DL Milton Williams. Turner and Lucas establish a very good relationship with one another at the point of attack, being hip-to-hip. With Lucas as the seal blocker, he has good eyes on the 2nd level defender and a good angle to climb and block the Eagles linebacker. This six-yard gives Washington a 3rd and short, which they converted for a first down.
Context: 1st quarter, 3rd and 4.
Turner calls an inside zone run for Antonio Gibson on a 3rd and medium situation, not a complex run design. The pre-snap motion for Washington creates defensive shifts for the Eagles on the 2nd-level, ultimately removing LB T.J. Edwards from the box and the gap that Gibson intends to run through. C Tyler Larsen and RG Trai Turner execute a true double team on Eagles 2i Fletcher Cox, driving him three to four yards off the ball. Larsen and Turner have a good relationship at the point of attack and a good leg drive to get a good push on Cox. Gibson follows this double team to the first down to extend the drive.
Context: 1st quarter, 3rd and 2.
OC Turner has a well-timed play call against the Eagles cover four call on this third down. Terry McLaurin is aligned in a 2x2 tight split to the field side of the formation, with Jahan Dotson aligned on the boundary in a tight split. Dotson's Post route forces the Eagles' defenders to bracket him on his post route, leaving a zone void behind the flat defender on the boundary side. CB Darius Slay is playing Off coverage with outside leverage against McLaurin, but McLaurin's Over route creates conflict for Slay, as he is late to match the route. McLaurin does a good job recognizing the void and attacking it, and Heinicke processes the coverage well and delivers an accurate pass to extend the drive.
Glad to have Dotson back in the fold. Had good processing on his lone catch. Sits in Slay's blind spot at the sticks, knowing that McLaurin's Corner will put Slay in conflict, and it does. Easy money for Dotson on 2nd and 11 + some yac. pic.twitter.com/iV5CDR1D2P— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) November 16, 2022
Context: 1st quarter, 1st and goal.
Turner calls a zone run with very good pre-snap motion and post-snap misdirection that gets 2nd level out of gaps. Milne influences the 2nd and 3rd-level defenders before the snap, and linebackers key in on Curtis Samuel post-snap as he flows to the backside of the play. This play should have been a touchdown if not for a shoe-string tackle.
Good throw under pressure by Heinicke on Washington's 3rd scoring drive of 1H. The 3x1 formation shifted the LBs at the snap creating a throwing window toward the middle of the field that they vacated. Good depth and tempo from Curtis on his route made this an easy pitch & catch. pic.twitter.com/HRyOVkdT1K— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) November 16, 2022
Brian Robinson's 11-yd run had Logan, Sam, & Cam geeked up lol. Think Monday night made it clear to me that BRob is becoming more comfortable. Saw some explosive cuts & quick feet in the hole that stood out to me in a good way since he's been back. Good combos up front here too. pic.twitter.com/0aBO9fAmlt— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) November 16, 2022
Love this playside series of blocks from Logan Thomas. Motioned into a playside blocker which allows him to give Leno 1st level help on Robert Quinn. Climbs to the 2nd level and seals off Kyzir White, giving AG the edge. Stayed on White the entire rush w/very good block sustain. pic.twitter.com/Npm9S8omzl— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) November 17, 2022
Still can't believe how mad people were last week, to the point they cussed out Ridgeway & wanted him cut.. lol.. he's still making plays though. pic.twitter.com/x4nKg8J84C— Jamual (@LetMualTellit) November 18, 2022
Context: 2nd quarter, 1st and 10.
The Commanders execute a late rotation from a pre-snap single-high coverage look into two-high Tampa 2 coverage with linebacker Jon Bostic taking away the crossing receiver in the middle of the field. DB Bobby McCain, trying to read the eyes of Jalen Hurts, vacates his zone for the running back in the flats, giving Hurts a window to target WR Devonte Smith. However, CB Kendall Fuller has good zone eyes on QB and can drive on the football and get the pass breakup.
Context: 2nd quarter, 1st and 10.
Very good processing by safety Darrick Forrest as the single-high in a Cover 3, displaying good route recognition and foot speed to get back into play. Receiver AJ Brown runs Corner-Post route, attempting to manipulate CB Benjamin St-Juste's hips but is unsuccessful. St-Juste displays good patience and good use of hands at the breakpoint to disrupt Brown's momentum and matches his physicality, allowing himself to stay in phase. As the single high safety, Forrest read Hurt's eyes and trusted his cornerback Kendall Fuller to match up with Davonta Smith on his deep dig route. Hurt's has been known to aggressively attack the third-level on these concepts that they have run throughout this season, so good for Forrest to trust his eyes and maintain good depth while staying in his backpedal, putting him in a position to make a play at the catch point.
Context: 3rd quarter, 3rd and 3.
Kendall Fuller's play recognition is on full display in this situation. Washington is playing man coverage on this third and short opportunity for the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles utilize A.J. Brown and TE Dallas Goedert on the field side in a 2x2 formation, running a double slant concept to their side. Cornerback Kendall Fuller was playing Off coverage with an inside shade and appeared to be baiting QB Hurts into thinking that the slant would be available. Instead, fuller anticipates the in-cut by Brown, immediately planting and exploding off of his back foot to close and break up the pass and force an Eagles punt.
Context: 3rd quarter, 2nd and 6.
The Commanders display good rush discipline and coverage on the back end to force and Hurts throwaway. Kendall Fuller and DB Kam Curl take away Hurts's first read (Smith on curl route) on the boundary side. Safety Bobby McCain crashes down and initially takes away Brown's crosser (Brown does break free late). Up front, edge rusher James Smith-Williams provides pressure, which forces Hurts to leave the pocket and scramble toward his sidelines. However, DT Daron Payne displays good football instincts, playing off of Smith-Williams's pressure, which allows Payne to be in an excellent position to pursue Hurts once he escapes the pocket. The discipline and pressure up front, along with good coverage on the backend, force Jalen Hurts to dead the play and prevent any explosive play after things break down.
The Commanders had a good outing against the Eagles, and the Texans are not playing nearly as good football as Philadelphia. As the Commanders prepare to take on the Houston Texans this Sunday, Washington needs to be aware of the opportunity in front of them. Compiling success on top of success can bring about much more confidence heading into the season's final stretch, which includes three critical divisional games and matchups against wildcard contenders Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.