Eagles defense is not losing sight of Chiefs sneak attack, however great Patrick Mahomes might be
PHOENIX — The Philadelphia Eagles Understand the threat
Patrick MahomesHe competed in his third Super Bowl Even at 25 years old, he can take on the world and fire off-platform throws and scramble to the outside of the pocket.
The Kansas City Chiefs He threatens quarterback with his arm and legs as well as his mind.
And yet — as coaches scheme for Mahomes and defenders prepare for the quarterback whom defensive end Brandon Graham says has earned his “GOAT” status — Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox The warning states that their eye discipline must not be limited to sifting through the misdirection and Mahomes or company cause.
Eagles defenders cannot lose sight of Chiefs’ run-game. Or they may fall for a sneak attack.
“We know he’s going to make some really good plays,” Cox said Tuesday afternoon from the Eagles’ team hotel. “(But) No. 1. We know they love to play football.
“If we all get caught up in them passing the ball? You can see that they are very efficient at running the ball if you really turn on the tape. And they do a really good job and have a couple good backs that run really hard.”
Cox stated that run defense and big plays will determine the outcome of the game.
A cursory look at Kansas City’s season seems to muddy this theory.
Fear the Chiefs’ run game? This Kansas City team led the league with points and yards. They also led the league with passing touchdowns, passing yards and passing yards. The Chiefs ranked 20th, meanwhile, in rushing yards.
The Chiefs actually passed on 59.5% plays during the regular season, and accounted 72% of their total yards via the air.
But Cox’s point clarifies when considering not the Chiefs’ overall production but their run efficiency. Kansas City’s 4.7 yards per carry ranked eighth-best in the league. Their 18 rushing touchdowns were good for seventh — both rankings far superior to their production.
Rookie seventh-round running back Isiah Pacheco led Kansas City’s ground attack with 830 yards and five touchdowns on 170 regular-season carries. Pacheco was the only running back in the league to have at least 100 carries. ranked No. 1 in efficiency per Football Outsiders’ “success” rate This measures yardage gained relative to yardage required for a first fall.
Pacheco gashed at the Jacksonville Jaguars For 95 yards in a 27-20 divisional win before the Bengals He was held to 26 yards on only 10 carries.
Clyde Edwards-HelaireWas a 2020 pick in the first round. activated Monday after more than two months on injured reserve While fighting a high ankle sprain. He’d tracked 302 yards and three touchdowns in 10 active games, averaging 4.3 yards per carry.
Mahomes was an escape artist who averaged 5.9 yards per try in a regular season. This included 358 yards, four touchdowns by ground and 25 first downs using his legs. He’s moved the chains twice more on six playoff carries, also extending plays in which he ultimately dumped a ball or unfurled a pass to a teammate.
The Eagles’ defense front will try to slow down that ground game. They will alternate between four- and 5-man rushes, while not straying from their ultimate goal of each winning their 1-on-1 matches.
“We throw a lot of different looks at teams,” Cox said. “They’ve got a lot of special players. … So it’s going to be tough.”
Mahomes, as usual, will be one of those tough players. He and his passing attack are not the only obstacle between the Eagles’ and their new Lombardi Trophy.
“That’s what it’s going to come down to,” Cox said, “Stopping the run and trying to eliminate their big plays.”
Follow Yahoo Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein