How Dean Pees defensive scheme looks against Shane Steichen’s offense

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The Eagles are in a similar situation as the Falcons — new regime, new offensive and defensive systems. Philadelphia hired former Chargers offensive coordinator Shane Steichen for the same role as he reunites with new head coach Nick Sirianni after working together in Los Angeles for four years until Sirianni left for Indianapolis. Steichen has been credited with helping nurture then-rookie Justin Herbert last season, which he will look to replicate with Jalen Hurts.

It’ll be up to Dean Pees and the Falcons defense to stop this potentially potent offense. I call it potentially potent because of Jalen Hurts’ mobility making this a sneaky difficult matchup. I fully expect Steichen and Sirianni to build an RPO-heavy offense (run-pass option) because of that running ability, but Sirianni — much like Arthur Smith — isn’t giving anything away. “I think you’ll see on Sunday the answer to that question,” Sirianni said to a question about forming an offense around Hurts’ strengths.

Similar to the Falcons offense, the Eagles offense will be initiated by the run with a heavy dose of screens and quick passes as an extension of the run game. “[Screens] are definitely important. Anytime you can get the ball to the quarterback’s hands quickly and create explosive plays in the screen game, that’s big,” Steichen said. The Eagles will try and take advantage of Dean Pees’ aggressive nature in this way.

The good thing for Pees and the Falcons defense is the bevy of athletes on the second level in Deion Jones, Foyesade Oluokon, and Mykal Walker. A quarterback spy will surely be put into this week’s game plan, which makes me feel like the defense will be in many 3-3-5 packages on second and third downs.

Those linebackers will be tasked with defending the middle of the field as the Eagles’ staff is sure to feature a heavy dose of targets to Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Pees will tee off on second and third downs if he can trust his linebackers in coverage against an extremely potent duo. It’ll be interesting to see how Pees balances his defense — defending the middle of the field and containing Hurts. He’ll certainly use a plethora of coverages and alignments.

I believe the key for this matchup will be for Pees to show pre-snap disguises to confuse an inexperienced Jalen Hurts. An example could be a 3-3-5 with all three of the aforementioned athletic linebackers on the field — one spying Hurts and two defending multiple tight end looks — with press-man coverage showing on the boundaries and Cover-2 showing on the back-end. Then as the ball is snapped, the corners bail into a Cover 3 look with one safety dropping in the middle third and the other safety dropping into the box to replace the spy. Obviously, the terminology varies, but the point remains: Pees will have to beat the Eagles offense pre-snap.

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