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How can the Broncos beat the Eagles?

It starts up front for the Denver Broncos, but Teddy Bridgewater has to do his part.

Following a statement victory over the Dallas Cowboys, the banged up Broncos have one last home stand before the a much needed bye week to try and recover before the stretch run to the playoffs. At 5-4 with five AFC West contests remaining, Denver’s young roster still controls their destiny. To make the most of the opportunity, Vic Fangio can’t afford an emotional letdown against the Philadelphia Eagles.

To dig into this week’s opponent, I reached out to my friend and fellow Broncos’ analyst Nick Kendell of Sports Illustrated’s Mile High Huddle. What follows are a brief overview of our talking points and notes.

Dissecting Dallas

A 30-16 win was certainly a surprise. What happened in the Dallas game?

  • No Reed meant Steven Weatherly played over RT and Jonatjon Cooper played over LT. Tyron Smith injury meant Terence Steele flipped from RT to LT and La’el Collins had his first game back after the suspension for substance abuse.
  • Zeke Elliot hurt his knee in the first half and was clearly playing through pain the rest of the way. Averaged 5.1 yards per carry with a long of 11. Broncos did not stack box and dared Cowboys to run the ball, so the fact Zeke couldn’t because of situation and injury really helped.
  • Noah Fant is the worst blocker in the Broncos TE room and putting Albert O into his role helped the ground game. Eric Saubert’s also a good blocker, even if he’s more limited as a receiver. Kudos to Shurmur for leaning into his tight ends with the Broncos’ formations and the liberal mix of split zone concepts.
  • Surtain and Darby looked very good and the Broncos leaned into it with a lot of man-match coverage and jamming. Fuller still gave up too much separation and definitely looks like he’s in decline, but he played tough at the catch point and could be a passable slot corner, at least until Ojemudia’s healthy.
  • Bridgewater and the Broncos’ passing game made the most of the way Dallas had to respect Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon carrying the ball. Tim Patrick in particular really stood out for his effort after the catch, as he was an instrumental in converting multiple third downs.

Broncos O vs. Eagles D

  • How can Shurmur make the most of his personnel against this Eagles defense?
  • 4-3 base, 4-2-5 nickel with a tiny bit of 3-3-5 thrown in. From what I’ve seen of the Eagles 3-3-5, it tends to look a lot like a 5-1 front with a nickel corner on the field.
  • The Eagles linebackers are pretty weak.
  • Fletcher Cox, Josh Sweat, and Javon Hargrave will all pose issues for the Broncos OL. After last week I want to say I’m confident that Calvin Anderson will hold up to Derek Barnett, but it’s a test to be sure. Sweat’s status is worth monitoring as he’s currently in the NFL concussion protocol.
  • Eagles use a ton of cover 2, 3, 4, and 6. Run less man coverage than the NFL average and it makes sense because their secondary is pretty shaky. Teams are just shredding them when they go to man. They’re also really bad in C4, but better than league average in 2, 3, and 6.
  • Eagles very rarely send 5 or more.
  • Eagles are giving up a ton of completions, but aren’t horrific as far as efficiency goes. They’ve been strong against passes to the right and right around league average vs. deep balls. Slay’s status may be huge for that though.
  • Philly’s pass defense got completely shredded by most of the good quarterbacks they’ve played, but beat up on Matt Ryan, Sam Darnold, and Jared Goff.
Eagles Coverage usage through 8 weeks (No week 9 data as of 11.10)
The Kneel Down / Ryan Weisman

Broncos D. vs. Eagles O

  • Eagles two most used personnel groupings are 11 (3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB) an 12 (2 WR, 2 TE, 1 RB) They are averaging over 5 yards per carry from both groups.
  • Despite all the injuries, this Eagles offensive line is quite good. While the tackles aren’t world beaters in pass protection they’re capable people movers and Philadelphia’s embraced a run-first mentality in recent weeks.
  • Jalen Hurts is quietly improving a decent bit. Still a limited QB, but he could be very dangerous against a depleted pass defense.
  • Run more Inside Zone than any team I’ve dug into this season.
  • Eagles run the most screens in the NFL.
  • For the season as a whole - Broncos have a hard time slowing down WR1s and 2s and may have to play without Surtain, who is dealing with a knee injury. If he’s limited or can’t suit up the Eagles will try and isolate Kyle Fuller in one-on-one coverage.
  • Dallas Goedert is Philly’s best weapon in the passing game and could be a test for Baron Browning and Kenny Young if they’re left isolated on him, but Fangio’s done a pretty good job against tight ends most of the season.
  • Philly’s personnel groups will mean it looks a little different, but it’d make sense for Fangio to lean into the gameplan the Broncos used against the Baltimore Ravens and force Jalen Hurts to carry the offense from the pocket.
Eagles run game concepts though 8 weeks (No week 9 data as of 11.10)
The Kneel Down / Ryan Weisman

Looking ahead

While the Broncos are 5-4, few expect them to make a real push for the Super Bowl. With that in mind, it’s a good time to take a quick look ahead to what this upcoming draft is starting to look like.

  • How bad is the quarterback class, really?
  • What position groups look strongest in the upcoming class?
  • Do any positions look like big needs for the ‘22 Broncos?
  • Why Teddy Bridgewater makes sense as a potential bridge to a rookie in 2022.