Has Hurts Improved Sufficient to Defeat Bucs?

NFL Wild Card – Rematches within the playoffs can sometimes learn by the earlier assembly. Matchups resembling Patriots-Payments, Steelers-Chiefs, and Cardinals-Rams are all rematches from video games in Week 14 and past. That is latest sufficient to be significant with respect to accidents, schematic tweaks, and developments in high quality of play.

The Eagles-Bucs wild card recreation, a rematch from all the way in which again in Week 6, does probably not fall into that bin. The Eagles have discovered and embraced a brand new offensive identification since then, whereas the Bucs have slowly light from dominant to a standard form of nice. Perhaps that isn’t sufficient swing in each instructions to provide the Eagles an higher hand this time round, however it’s higher than nothing.

For individuals who could also be unfamiliar with the Soccer Outsiders stats, they’re defined on the backside of the web page. Scroll down or click on this hyperlink. Sport charting information seems courtesy Sports activities Information Options, until famous. All stats characterize common season solely, apart from weighted DVOA and anything particularly famous.

  PHI TB
DVOA 3.8% (15) 27.6% (3)
WEI DVOA 3.3% (12) 25.8% (4)
Eagles on Offense
  PHI OFF TB DEF
DVOA 8.2% (11) -3.5% (9)
WEI DVOA 7.4% (10) -4.6% (12)
PASS 18.0% (14) 0.7% (10)
RUSH 7.2% (3) -11.8% (12)
Buccaneers on Offense
  PHI DEF TB OFF
DVOA 4.7% (25) 26.7% (1)
WEI DVOA 5.0% (26) 24.2% (1)
PASS 13.1% (25) 43.9% (1)
RUSH -6.2% (19) 6.9% (4)
Particular Groups
  PHI TB
DVOA 0.3% (15) -2.5% (27)

All readers can click on right here for the open in-game dialogue thread. In case you have FO+, you may click on right here to see all of the matchup of DVOA splits for this recreation.

WHEN THE EAGLES HAVE THE BALL

PHI Week-to-Week Graph

The Eagles offense needs to be higher than they had been the final time round. When these groups confronted off in Week 6, quarterback Jalen Hurts accomplished fewer than half his passes, the run recreation by no means fairly acquired established, and the offensive line was not clicking in the way in which that it’s now. Since then, Hurts has turn into a greater passer, the run recreation has been resuscitated, and the offensive line is defending in addition to any unit within the NFL.

Let’s begin with Hurts. The second-year quarterback is each higher than many thought he can be and but not fairly pretty much as good or full as he must be for the Eagles to be severe this season. On the plus facet, Hurts affords mobility, each as a scrambler and within the designed run recreation. Utilizing Hurts as an possibility quarterback behind an offensive line as athletic as Philadelphia’s permits them to tug linemen and manipulate area within the field higher than simply about any workforce within the league.

As a passer, Hurts has been nice throwing outdoors the numbers and the offense has catered to that. The offense loves Stick ideas, velocity outs, nook routes, flat routes, bubble screens, and so forth.—something to get the ball on the perimeter. Not solely does Hurts see these throws extra comfortably, however he has greater than sufficient accuracy to be efficient.

The issue is, Hurts continues to be hesitant to make use of the center of the sector. Solely 46 of Hurts’ passes this yr had been marked as being thrown down the center. In opposition to a Bucs protection that has been shaky between the numbers due to middling protection from their linebackers and fixed accidents at security, this needs to be a matchup the place the center of the sector will be exploited, however Hurts might want to step up and show it.

The Eagles may wrestle dealing with Todd Bowles’ heavy dose of blitzing, relying on which facet of the Hurts coin comes up. Hurts has been a gash-or-be-gashed passer in opposition to the blitz. He ranks twenty eighth out of 31 qualifying quarterbacks in completion proportion in opposition to the blitz, which suggests he has struggled to seek out the straightforward approach out. Nevertheless, he ranks ninth in yards per try in opposition to the blitz, which suggests he has been capable of finding large performs on occasion. With the Bucs main the league in blitzing, although, it is easy to think about the sheer quantity of blitzes might get to Hurts until he is on his A-game.

All that being mentioned, the bottom recreation is the place Philly actually provides themselves a combating probability right here. Final yr, saying that for any workforce dealing with the Tampa Bay entrance can be heresy, however they haven’t been dominant this yr. The Bucs’ protection slipped to seventeenth in run protection from Week 10 onwards. A few of that’s injury-related, as is the case with a lot of the Bucs’ struggles this yr, however some gamers, together with defensive deal with Vita Vea, have simply not fairly been as much as par with what they had been final yr. That is a troublesome commonplace to take care of, so no one needs to be crushing them for it, however it’s the truth of the 2021 Bucs.

The Eagles’ run recreation is primed to provide Tampa Bay issues, too. Not solely does the Eagles offensive line rank fourth in adjusted line yards, however they’ll get away with stuff different groups cannot. First-team All-Professional middle Jason Kelce is probably the most athletic participant at his place, which allows the Eagles to make use of him as a puller and get him in area in a approach just about no different workforce can do with their middle. It is arduous to game-plan for a workforce with such a singular edge like that, by no means thoughts what Hurts brings as a runner and all the issues that presents for the Bucs. Tampa Bay’s non-Lavonte David linebackers do not need the sharpest eyes within the run recreation, both, which might make all of Philadelphia’s pulling ideas and possibility recreation much more efficient.

WHEN THE BUCCANEERS HAVE THE BALL

TB Week-to-Week Graph

This facet of the matchup affords much less pleasure. If something, a few key losses among the many Bucs’ ability gamers would possibly give an in any other case flailing Eagles protection a combating probability.

The discharge of Antonio Brown is the newest loss, however the Bucs are nonetheless with out Chris Godwin as nicely. Godwin suffered a torn ACL within the workforce’s Week 16 shutout loss to the New Orleans Saints. Even after lacking the previous few weeks, Godwin nonetheless leads the workforce in nearly each quantity receiving stat besides touchdowns, whereas Brown ranked second on the workforce in catches per recreation when he was wholesome.

On the one hand, that simplifies issues for the Eagles protection. Mike Evans is now the one broad receiver price his salt for a Bucs offense that sometimes majors in 11 personnel (three broad receivers). Cornerback Darius Slay needs to be allowed to shadow Evans each time the Eagles really feel compelled to take action with out having to fret about one among Tampa Bay’s different Professional Bowl receivers working amok elsewhere.

However, it isn’t just like the Eagles protection handles the remainder of what the Bucs can do very nicely. Tight finish Rob Gronkowski, although a transparent tier or two behind what he as soon as was, continues to be top-of-the-line handful of tight ends within the league. The Eagles’ linebackers can run a bit, however they aren’t geared up to squeeze home windows in zone or play tight to routes in man protection in opposition to somebody as bodily as Gronkowski. The Eagles completed the yr twenty seventh in go protection DVOA in opposition to tight ends, and Gronkowski is the proper of participant to show that weak point. Philly will get a small reprieve in that the Bucs are the least-frequent customers of play-action within the league, which ought to make issues a bit simpler for his or her linebackers, however that is not sufficient to tip issues of their favor right here.

The Bucs additionally win the battle up entrance. Half of that’s due to the Bucs’ offensive line expertise; the opposite half is due to Tom Brady’s play model and effectivity. Tampa Bay has the very best proper deal with within the league (Tristan Wirfs) and maybe the very best middle (Ryan Jensen) and left guard (Ali Marpet). All of them are barroom brawlers, too, and can have zero hesitation bringing the battle to Philadelphia’s entrance. Mix that with Brady’s low time-to-throw, and that is how the Bucs end the yr first in adjusted sack price (3.5%).

Philadelphia’s typical strategy could not be capable of disrupt that formulation, both. The Eagles despatched the second-fewest blitzes within the NFL this yr, forward of solely the Las Vegas Raiders. Whereas that’s partially as a result of they belief their entrance 4, the Eagles ended the yr simply twenty eighth in strain price and now faces a Bucs offense that ranked first in strain price allowed. That may be a disgrace for the Eagles, as a result of Brady has quietly been mediocre when pressured this season, sitting at twenty third in completion proportion and fifteenth in yards per try amongst 31 qualifying quarterbacks. Except the Eagles differ their strategy to seek out methods to get some warmth, Brady might be going to be sitting comfortable within the pocket for a majority of this recreation.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Oddly sufficient, particular groups is the realm the place the Eagles have the clearest benefit. That has extra to do with the Bucs’ struggles than something, although. Tampa Bay’s particular groups items have all earned destructive worth this season, save for his or her punt return unit.

If the sport comes all the way down to a game-winning kick, the Bucs could also be in just a little hassle. Ryan Succop has hit 7-of-10 makes an attempt between 40 and 49 yards this yr, which is ok, however missed his lone 50-plus-yard try. Maybe he has so few makes an attempt from that vary as a result of the Bucs can all the time go for it and convert, however Succop went simply 1-of-3 from past 50 yards between the 2019 and 2020 seasons as nicely. Eagles kicker Jake Elliott, nevertheless, is 10-of-13 from 40 to 49 yards and a stellar 3-of-3 past 50 yards this season. Elliott has additionally but to overlook an additional level, whereas Succop has whiffed on three.

OUTLOOK

Elements of this recreation are extra encouraging for Philadelphia than they had been three months in the past. Their offense has actually discovered its footing, primarily at quarterback, whereas the Bucs haven’t fairly seemed just like the Tremendous Bowl lock they could have seemed like early within the season. Nonetheless, Hurts’ present incapability to assault the center of the sector as a passer, in addition to his volatility in opposition to blitzes, are going to make it robust for the Eagles to really go punch for punch on this one until they’ll have a dominant day on the bottom. That is actually within the playing cards, however it does cut back their margin for error.

The Bucs, on the opposite finish, have Brady, an impenetrable offensive line, and a protection that’s nonetheless good, even when not as dominant because it as soon as was. The Bucs’ margin for error is way wider, and they’re clear favorites on this matchup for good motive.

 

 

STATS EXPLAINED

DVOA (Protection-adjusted Worth Over Common) breaks down every play of the season and compares it to the NFL common primarily based on scenario and opponent. You will discover it defined additional right here. Since DVOA measures skill to attain, a destructive DVOA signifies a higher protection and worse offense, and a constructive DVOA signifies a higher offense and worse protection.

Crew DVOA numbers incorporate all performs; since passing is usually extra environment friendly than dashing, the typical for passing is definitely above 0% whereas the typical for dashing is under 0%.

SPECIAL TEAMS numbers are totally different; they characterize worth in factors of additional subject place gained in comparison with NFL common. Subject purpose ranking represents factors scored in comparison with common kicker at similar distances. All particular groups numbers are adjusted by climate and altitude; the entire is then translated into DVOA so it may be in comparison with offense and protection. These numbers are defined right here.

Every workforce is listed with DVOA for offense and protection, whole together with rush and go, and rank among the many 32 groups in parentheses. (If the DVOA values are obscure, it’s simple to only have a look at the ranks.) We additionally listing WEIGHTED DVOA (WEI DVOA), which relies on a formulation which drops the worth of video games early within the season to get a greater thought of how groups are enjoying now (defined right here).

Every workforce additionally will get a chart displaying their efficiency this yr, game-by-game, in response to whole DVOA. Along with a line displaying every recreation, one other line exhibits the workforce’s development for the season, utilizing a rolling common of the final 5 video games. Be aware that although the chart seems within the part for when every workforce has the ball, it represents whole efficiency, not simply offense.

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