Super Bowl LVII: Philadelphia Eagles Paths to Victory
One of the annoying storylines the last two weeks has been that Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni is merely a caretaker for one of the most well-constructed rosters in recent memory.
No one will deny that Sirianni appeared in over his head when he took over in Philadelphia. Still, he has come a long way since then and has led the Eagles to a 14-win season and an NFC Championship. Save for a few times this season, Philadelphia has been the clear-cut best team on the field. Yes, the roster construction is elite. But Sirianni and his coaching staff have helped unlock the potential of that roster, specifically Jalen Hurts.
Coming into the season, Hurts was a big question mark. Now he’s an MVP candidate and one win from a Super Bowl. In addition, Sirianni’s coordinators, Shane Steichen and Johnathan Gannon, both received head coaching interviews and might even land one of (if not both) the remaining gigs in Arizona and Indianapolis.
Calling Sirianni a caretaker and minimizing his role in Philadelphia’s rapid ascension is just lazy and wrong.
But for as dominant as the Eagles have been this season, they have their work cut out for them on Sunday. The Chiefs have been to three Super Bowls in four years and five AFC title games in as many years. Andy Reid is the savvy veteran coach, and Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in football.
Still, all the Eagles have to do is keep doing what got them to Phoenix, and they’ll have a good shot at raising a Lombardi Trophy on Sunday evening.
Front Seven Feast
The Chiefs’ offense has gone from a four verts display of Mahomes’ play-extending abilities and rocket arm to an offense that feasts in the intermediate and getting yards in space in recent years. More so now than ever with Tyreek Hill traded last offseason.
It’s no secret that Mahomes to Kelce is the beat to the drum to which the Chiefs offense marches. Mahomes and Kelce do their best work in the short to the intermediate game, with Kelce getting yards after the catch.
Beating that formula requires an elite pass rush. This Eagles unit will go down as one of the best in the league’s history when it comes to elite pass rushes. The Eagles’ pass rush has parlayed a historical regular season performance into an equally impressive postseason performance, boasting an 87.6 team pass-rush grade (PFF).
Philadelphia enters the game with eight sacks, 45 pressures, and an astounding 85.7 percent pass-rush win percentage in the postseason. Haason Reddick has been on another level and leads the way with a 91.2 pass-rush grade with 3.5 sacks, 12 total pressures and a 34.2 percent pass-rush win percentage.
Reddick is my pick for Super Bowl MVP on Sunday, but he’s not been alone this postseason. Javon Hargrave also has an elite pass-rush grade for the playoffs, boasting a 91.0 mark with a 25.7 percent pass-rush win percentage.
The Eagles’ defense is littered with playmakers who can get after the quarterback. They’ll be in great shape if they can do what they’ve been doing all season.
(Jason) Kelce Time
The Eagles have a simple bread-and-butter formula on the other side of the ball. Philadelphia’s offense builds the offense inside out, from the rushing attack to go ball deep shots outside the numbers.
As I wrote in the Chiefs’ path to victory story on Saturday, the Eagles have the NFL’s best rushing attack that draws opposing defenses into the box. Their short-to-intermediate passing game adds another layer, almost lulling defenses into a slumber with a basic up-the-middle approach in both the run and pass game.
Then they take their shots deep to A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, usually outside the numbers, taking advantage of Jalen Hurts’ undeniably good deep ball accuracy.
The Chiefs’ secondary has played exceptionally well this postseason, and they did so against a Bengals team featuring Joe Burrow throwing to Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.
That said, running the ball inside will be a key for the Eagles on Sunday. According to PFF, the Eagles have a 91.4 offensive grade running up the middle behind center Jason Kelce. In addition, Philadelphia has a 94.0 offensive grade on PFF running inside zone run place behind Kelce and a 91.9 run blocking grade.
The Eagles’ offensive line has an outstanding 83.0 overall grade on inside zone runs. Still, the design behind Kelce is significantly better.
So, while Travis Kelce is the key to success for the Chiefs’ offense, his brother Jason will play an equally significant role for the Eagles.