How the Eagles Neutralized JPP and the Giants’ Rush

From Jimmy Kempski of Blogging the bEast:

In the first quarter, Jason Pierre-Paul beat Demetress Bell soundly around the edge and got a piece of Michael Vick’s shoulder pad.  Vick was able to duck out of JPP’s grip, and he raced around the edge with DTs Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard in pursuit for a gain of 3.  That was the only legitimate pressure JPP got on Michael Vick the entire night.

During the telecast, NBC’s Cris Collinsworth said that he asked Michael Vick what his reads are against the Giants when he walks up to the line of scrimmage.  Vick answered, “Jason Pierre-Paul, and Jason Pierre-Paul.”

I was curious how much added attention the Eagles paid JPP Sunday night, so I took a look at all his snaps when the Eagles dropped back to pass.  By my count, the Eagles dropped back to pass 35 times.  On five of them, JPP was not in the game.  On one, JPP dropped into coverage.  That left JPP with 29 opportunities to rush the QB.  On the graphic below, here’s what JPP faced.

Some notes on how the Eagles were able to slow JPP and the Giants pass rush:

  • Of the 29 pass rush opportunities, JPP had 1-on-1 matchups with Todd Herremans or Demetress Bell on 16 of them (55.2%).  Giving one pass rusher extra attention on 45% of his rushes is a significant amount of attention to give one player, but it was far less than I had anticipated.  As noted above, Bell was beaten once, but that was it for the entire night.  I thought the Eagles offensive tackles did a stellar job handling JPP 1-on-1.
  • To my surprise, the Giants didn’t try to get very creative at all with Pierre-Paul.  They moved him to the left side on some obvious passing downs to make room for Osi Umenyiora at RDE.  They also only tried running just one stunt with JPP all night.  That was about as creative as it got.  I thought for sure the Giants would try him on the interior, trying to get matchups on Dallas Reynolds or Danny Watkins, but that never happened.
  • The Eagles threw more quick passes than they normally do, which helped neutralized the pass rush to some degree, but there were certainly times where the Eagles took shots down the field, and the Giants pass rush was blocked up nicely by the Eagles’ OL.
  • The Eagles ran the ball.  That probably can’t be stated enough.  Take away Vick’s 6 rushes, and the Eagles ran the ball 30 times.  That’s the best counter to a great pass rush, especially if the running game is working.  Play action passes did not work against the Cardinals Week 3 because Arizona didn’t buy that the Eagles were going to run.  On Sunday, JPP was was slowed on a number of occasions by play action passes.

For at least one matchup this season, the Eagles shut down one of the best players in the game.