The Philadelphia Eagles offense added two players that will make their 12 and 22 personnel groupings a nightmare for the rest of the NFL.
The Philadelphia Eagles, defending Super Bowl champions, made two moves this past weekend that will be a significant factor in their chances to repeat. First, in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, Philadelphia selected former South Dakota State tight end Dallas Goedert. Philly traded up in the second round to get ahead of the Dallas Cowboys and added arguably the best tight end in the class
Tight end was not a huge need for the Eagles heading into the weekend, with top-three tight end Zach Ertz on the roster and they after they signed Richard Rodgers during the offseason. However, it is clear the Eagles have a plan going forward, and it is a good one. Adding Goedert can best be described as the rich getting richer because the dynamic of the entire offense may change with the addition of the 6-5 tight end.
Philadelphia is loaded with weapons on offense, ranging from wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and speedster Mike Wallace, running back’s Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement, and also Ertz at tight end. That brings up the second player they added, or for better verbiage, re-signed: running back Darren Sproles. The future Hall of Fame running back (do not @ me) is the perfect fit in the Eagles offense, but a torn ACL and broken arm forced him to miss the season in 2017.
Adding Goedert to the mix and bringing back Sproles gives the Eagles two of the hardest personnel groupings to defend against, 12 and 22 personnel. For those who are not familiar with those terms, 12 personnel means one running back and two tight ends while 22 personnel means two running backs and two tight ends.
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They are the two hardest to defend against because in the NFL has turned into a sub-package league. It is rare to see three linebackers on the field at once for an NFL defense. It is usually two linebackers and an extra defensive back. However, it is tough to bring an extra defensive back on the field when the offense has two tight ends on the field.
Usually, a two tight end set means the team is going to run the ball, but the Eagles now have the most dangerous two tight end set in the NFL. Both Ertz and Goedert can catch the ball exceptionally well. Ertz has improved immensely as a blocker and Goedert has shown he is willing and able to also block. It will be an adjustment for him in the NFL, but the Eagles and I hope he can improve as a blocker in the NFL just as Ertz has.
A formation consisting of Jeffery and Agholor at wide receiver, Ertz and Goedert at tight end, and Ajayi in the backfield may be something you see a lot of. This would be 12 personnel. It is likely the defense will stay in a sub-package here, which will allow Ajayi and the Eagles offensive line an advantage to take it to the defense. However, if they are getting the ball pounded down their throat, they will need to bring the third linebacker in, which will then allow Ertz and Goedert to likely be matched up on a linebacker. This is a nightmare for a defensive coordinator, but it isn’t their biggest nightmare.
That will be if the Eagles are in 22 personnel. You can sub Agholor out for this formation and bring in Sproles. That gives you Jeffery, Ertz, Goedert, Ajayi, and Sproles on the field. This is a running formation, but Philly will be dominant throwing the ball out of 22 personnel in 2018. It will be near impossible to defend 22 personnel against the Eagles. Defensive coordinators will have to decide how they want to live and die. I would guess that they will try to stay in a sub-package again and hope they win the upfront match-ups, but that is going to be hard against the Eagles. If that is the case, Ajayi is going to have a big year.
I would rather let Ajayi beat me than Carson Wentz, but Ajayi is more than able to beat you. Also, if they decide that the two tight end set is crushing them in the run game, bringing in another linebacker once again gives the Eagles mismatches all over the field. Either Sproles, Goedert, or Ertz will have a linebacker on them, and Wentz will be looking there first.
The addition of Goedert is enormous for the Eagles offense. Two tight end sets are a nightmare in the NFL, and then when you add in Sproles, it makes it even worse. Wentz is recovering from a torn ACL, but rehab must be a lot easier knowing when he comes back he will have more weapons than last season. Philadelphia’s offense was dominant in 2017, but look for them to be the best offense in the NFL this season because of their ability to be a nightmare in 12 and 22 personnel.