The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles to move on to the divisional round. Todd Bowles’ defense came to play and played one of the greatest games they have played as a unit. The defense shut down the elite run offense and forced the Eagles to play with their opposite hand.
Setting An Early Tone
On the first drive, the Buccaneers forced the Eagles to a third and one, Sirianni dialed up a read option and Jordan Whitehead played it perfectly and met Hurts for a tackle for loss. The Eagles knew they couldn’t get down early, but still started their first drive with a three and out.
The Eagle’s run game is predicated on getting linemen in space. This is in an effort to win the numbers game, and they couldn’t get it going. One of their biggest runs came off an inverted veer concept, with Shaq Barrett being the read man, it resulted in a gain of nine. The drive ended very quickly though, as Jason Pierre Paul was able to split a double team from a receiver and tight end and disrupt Hurts.
Bowles Play Calling Takes Over
Down 14 on their third drive of the game, the Eagles found themselves in a crucial long third down, and Todd Bowles dialed up one hell of a play call. The right side of the defensive line had a 1-tech, 3-tech, and 5-tech. This puts the running back, who is pass protection on the left hip of Hurts. Barrett was isolated alone on the left side of the Buccaneers defensive line, and Antoine Winfield Jr. walked up. Vita Vea drops into coverage and Barrett finesses to the inside of the tackle, which puts the tackle out of position when Winfield Jr. comes on a blitz. Winfield Jr. just had to get past a running back who was late. Winfield Jr. gets to Hurts, making the Eagles punt to Tom Brady down 14-0.
Getting the Eagles down this early was an obvious recipe to win. Hurts were forced to go off-script and try to pass against this Buccaneers secondary. Going up 17-0 was essentially a death blow to the run-heavy Eagles. Bowles dialed up a perfect game plan to shut down the Eagle’s offense. He deserves a lot of the credit.
When reviewing the tape, it became obvious that Bowles doesn’t care how big or small you are. He is going find a way to make you succeed. Jordan Whitehead played everywhere including, slot, free, and linebacker. On early downs, Whitehead was used as a contain man, protecting the edge and pushing everything inside. This role for Whitehead was perfect as he was able to beat tight ends and force the play inside where the front seven made it work. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka was also used in a very interesting way, as he would line up in the interior and play as a spy to make sure Jalen Hurts doesn’t take off and run. He even forced a pass breakup on a critical third-down when doing this.
Jamel Dean– The Eagles loved to set up easy completions for Jalen Hurts, like screens and swing routes. These plays are successful if the receiver can block the defensive back on top of him. Dean played a physically demanding 60 minutes, including fighting through blocks from receiver and tight ends to shut these plays down. His ability to make what should be an easy play ends up going nowhere and even backward. This destroys any rhythm the opposing offense has.
Ndamukong Suh– Suh never seems to get the credit he deserves. On Sunday, he was moving guards into gaps and wreaking havoc every play. His play-in-the-run game never shows up in the stat sheet, but it definitely does on the scoreboard.
Bowles dialed up a near-perfect game plan and deserves the game ball. This game was a perfect encapsulation of what NFL front offices see in Bowles. The next game is the Rams, where last time the Buccaneers were riddled with injuries in the secondary, making their pass defense inefficient. If you take that game away, Bowles is 4-1 vs Stafford, including only 4 touchdowns to 6 interceptions.