• The 2023 Eagles offense throws the ball substantially SHORTER despite holding onto the ball LONGER and receives QB pressure MORE OFTEN.
  • The Eagles are throwing far more passes this year behind the line of scrimmage (28% vs. 20% last year) with poor results.
  • Jalen Hurts’ average time to throw on early downs in the first half is 2.95 seconds this year as compared to 2.63 seconds last year.
  • In 2022, the Eagles averaged just 25.9 seconds per play in the first half of games, ranked #1.
  • In 2023, the Eagles are averaging 29.7 seconds per play in the first half of games, ranked #25.

The Problem With the Eagles Offense

The Eagles have led at halftime in 6 of 12 games this year.

On average, the Eagles have been losing by 1.0 points at halftime in their 12 games, which ranks #17 in the NFL.

Through Week 13 last year, the Eagles led by 7.8 points per game at halftime, #1 in the NFL. They trailed at halftime in just 2 of 12 games.

Those deficits put a tremendous burden on both the offense and defense in the second half.

This inevitably wears the team out over the course of a game as well as a long season.

What the Eagles Offense Needs to Do

The Eagles must find a way to start games faster on offense to build a lead and coast to easier wins, as they did in 2022.

From an outsider’s perspective, I don’t know if the plays are coming in too slowly with a new OC or the team is not emphasizing speed on offense, but there is a general lethargy at the start of games that feels like it permeates every phase of the offense.

There is very little urgency offensively early in games. Huddles are slow, breaking the huddle is slow, dropbacks are slow, and the time before the ball is released on pass plays is slow.

The general vibe is “we’re okay” as opposed to a certain level of stress that should be present coupled with a resolve to jump out to a quick lead.

I’ll share stats on pace of play below, but I believe if the Eagles simply came out one game and said, “We’re playing with our hair on fire today,” and executed everything faster — potentially going no huddle, huddling faster, faster drop backs, getting the ball out of Hurts’ hands faster, or getting the next snap off quicker — the offense would find a spark and that spark will fuel the fire to get back on track down the stretch.

But as the below analysis will showcase, issues with time to throw, target depth, target location, and target position are glaring and differ greatly from the 2022 offense in addition to the general pace of play.

Fortunately, these issues are easily fixable if an effort is made to address them, which would allow the offense to play from a position of power in games rather than one of weakness.

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First Down Passing

Eagles first down passes in the first half of games:

  • 2022: 9.5 air yards/att, 2.67 seconds time-to-throw, 30% of att holding the ball for 3+ seconds, 30% pressure rate, 17% of att thrown at or behind line of scrimmage
  • 2023: 7.5 air yards/att, 3.04 seconds time-to-throw, 39% of att holding the ball for 3+ seconds, 39% pressure rate, 25% of att thrown at or behind line of scrimmage

The differences leap off the page along with the problems such numbers present.

The 2023 offense throws the ball substantially SHORTER despite holding onto the ball LONGER and receives QB pressure MORE OFTEN.

That combination shouldn’t exist.

If you’re passing shorter, you shouldn’t hold onto the ball as long.

If you’re passing shorter, you shouldn’t get pressured as often.

And yet that’s the Eagles’ first down passing offense in 2023.

Second downs are similar, but the problem is most glaring on first downs.

And because first down pass efficiency was such a staple of success for the 2022 Eagles, the massive drop in efficiency is crippling the first half offense in 2023.

Depth of Target

Let’s look at target depth on early downs in the first half.

Backfield passes have been bad, but they likewise were bad last year.

Passes behind the line of scrimmage:

  • 2022: -0.16 EPA/att, 35% success, 4.6 YPA, 82% comp
  • 2023: -0.11 EPA/att, 28% success, 3.9 YPA, 84% comp

Short passes have been much worse than last year.

Passes 1-10 Air Yards: 

  • 2022: +0.13 EPA/att, 52% success, 6.4 YPA
  • 2023: -0.12 EPA/att, 38% success, 5.3 YPA

Midrange passes have been the most efficient on early downs this year.

Passes 11-20 Air Yards: 

  • 2022: +0.47 EPA/att, 55% success, 11.1 YPA
  • 2023: +0.48 EPA/att, 59% success, 10.7 YPA

Deep passes have been terrible this year as compared to last year.

Passes 21+ Air Yards: 

  • 2022: +0.44 EPA/att, 38% success, 14.9 YPA
  • 2023: +0.06 EPA/att, 18% success, 8.3 YPA

But the Eagles are throwing far more passes this year behind the line of scrimmage (28% vs. 20% last year) with poor results.

And they are throwing the ball 11-20 air yards on only 17% of all attempts, down from 19% despite this being their strongest area of success.

Time to Throw

Jalen Hurts is taking substantially longer to throw the ball in 2023.

His average time to throw on early downs in the first half is 2.95 seconds as compared to 2.63 seconds last year.

The focus needs to be on getting rid of the ball faster.

Look at these metrics broken down by time to throw:

Time to Throw Infographic

Passes thrown quickly (in fewer than 2 seconds) are delivering efficiency and production at a much higher rate than they were in 2022.

Passes thrown after holding the ball longer (4+ seconds) have been bad, but were bad in 2022 as well, so limiting these as much as possible is ideal.

The biggest drop off in efficiency has been on passes thrown between 2 to 4 seconds, as shown above.

Part of the issue with these passes is obvious when you look at target depths as compared to last year:

Time to Throw Infographic

There isn’t a “midrange” pass thrown in the 10 to 20-yard range this season.

As Hurts is holding onto the ball from 2.5 to 3.5 seconds, he should have the time to push the ball beyond the sticks to attack the midrange of the defense.

But he is not this year.

His air yards per attempt when holding the ball for 2.5 to 3.5 seconds is just under 7.5.

That is HALF the air yardage from 2022 (15.0 air yards) on similar durations behind center.

This year, only 28% of his passes travel beyond the sticks when holding the ball for between 2.5 to 3.5 seconds.

That is 30% LESS than the rate from 2022 (58%) on similar durations holding the ball.

In 2023, the Eagles are not making the time spent behind center count toward a more productive passing attack.

Time to Throw Infographic

As a result of not throwing it deep enough despite holding the ball for the same time, fewer passes in that 2 to 4-second time frame are generating chunk yardage as compared to 2022, as the above graphic shows.

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Zone Coverage

Yes, the Eagles are facing more zone coverage on early downs in 2023 than they were in 2022.

But the production against zone coverage in 2023 is substantially worse than it was in 2022.

Eagles against zone coverage on early downs in the first half:

  • 2022: +0.11 EPA/att, 48% success, 8.5 YPA
  • 2023: -0.11 EPA/att, 34% success, 6.1 YPA

Against zone coverage in 2023, Hurts is taking more time behind center (2.9 seconds vs. 2.7 in 2022) before passing the ball but is throwing much shorter (5.8 air yards vs. 8.6 air yards in 2022).

And despite throwing substantially shorter by nearly three yards per attempt, Hurts is only completing 71.7% of passes in 2023 as compared to 72.3% of these passes in 2022.

Efficiency vs. man coverage on these early downs is down in 2023, similar to when facing zone.

The largest difference between the two in 2023, however, is the target depth against zone coverage.

In 2022, Hurts averaged 8.8 air yards vs. man coverage and 8.6 air yards vs. zone.

But in 2023, Hurts is averaging 9.5 air yards vs. man coverage but only 5.8 air yards vs. zone on these downs.

Target rates against zone coverage:

  • 2022: 57% WR targets, 23% TE targets, 16% RB targets (4% throwaways)
  • 2023: 47% WR targets, 20% TE targets, 28% RB targets (5% throwaways)

Against zone this year, the Eagles offense is checking down to RB targets far too often as compared to what they were doing in 2022.

Target rates against man coverage:

  • 2022: 73% WR targets, 12% TE targets, 11% RB targets (5% throwaways)
  • 2023: 62% WR targets, 8% TE targets, 4% RB targets (30% throwaways)

Against man coverage this year, Hurts is being exceedingly careful with the ball and throwing away passes at an enormous rate (30%).

Studying the film of these attempts, most come when he’s held the ball too long while staying in the pocket. Pressure begins to come, so he rolls away from it and throws it away.

In either case, while the Eagles are facing more zone on these dropbacks in 2023, that is not the excuse for why early down passing is not efficient.

The Eagles’ 2022 passing attack was still extremely efficient on early downs vs. zone.

Knocking off nearly 3 air yards per attempt against zone coverage this year as compared to last year is part of the problem, and the Eagles need to get back to attacking zone coverage rather than acquiescing to RB dump-offs.

Passing Between the Numbers

Despite throwing the ball much shorter, Hurts is still finding efficiency passing outside the numbers on early downs.

  • 2022: +0.04 EPA/att, 42% success, 6.9 YPA (10.4 air yards/att, 64% comp)
  • 2023: +0.16 EPA/att, 38% success, 6.4 YPA (7.2 air yards/att, 74% comp)

But the Eagles are generating very little success throwing the ball between the numbers this year.

Even if you eliminate inefficient passes thrown behind the line of scrimmage, look at the comparison by year when Hurts throws between the numbers and beyond the line of scrimmage:

  • 2022: +0.66 EPA/att, 78% success, 11.8 YPA (10.2 air yards/att, 77% comp)
  • 2023: +0.02 EPA/att, 50% success, 8.1 YPA (9.5 air yards/att, 75% comp)

Fortunately for the Eagles, this is an easy fix.

The biggest reason for a lack of success here is that far too many of these passes are thrown to running backs. With Dallas Goedert injured, the few TE passes have been extremely inefficient, as well.

If the Eagles focused on targeting wide receivers over the middle of the field, they would have far better success.

Look at the splits on these passes between the numbers based on target position in 2023:

  • WR targets: +0.46 EPA/att, 66% success, 10.0 YPA (12.1 air yards/att, 79% comp, 29 att)
  • RB/TE targets: -0.83 EPA/att, 20% success, 4.5 YPA (4.4 air yards/att, 67% comp, 15 att)

The Eagles’ efficiency on these RB/TE targets is massively worse in 2023 than it was in 2022.

And while the WR targets are down slightly in efficiency vs. 2022, they are not down substantially:

  • 2022 WR targets: +0.76 EPA/att, 69% success, 13.1 YPA (12.0 air yards/att, 75% comp)
  • 2023 WR targets: +0.46 EPA/att, 66% success, 10.0 YPA (12.1 air yards/att, 79% comp)

The Eagles must call more plays designed to attack defenses over the middle of the field with WRs and reduce the frequency with which they are trying to use their RBs and TEs.

Pace of Play

In 2022, the Eagles averaged just 25.9 seconds per play in the first half of games.

That ranked as the #1 paced first half offense in the NFL.

This year, the Eagles are averaging 29.7 seconds per play in the first half of games.

That ranks #25 in tempo.

The significantly slower first half tempo feeds into what feels like a general malaise and complacency when watching the Eagles offense at the start of games this year.

How to Fix Struggling Eagles Offense

It is easy to overlook issues and not address them when the final results are positive.

The Eagles, sitting at 10-2, might feel like there is no need to shake up the offense or improve anything since what they’ve done has led to success.

But we know final win-loss records can be extremely deceiving.

A good team will constantly look for ways to improve, even after a win.

And that’s what the Eagles must do because they are not close to being the same offense they were in 2023.

And while one of the easiest stretches to close the season awaits the Eagles, with games against the Giants twice and Cardinals following back-to-back tougher games against the Cowboys and Seahawks, the Eagles will be tested in the postseason.

They must begin the process to improve their offense as quickly as possible.

To start games, the passing attack needs to be more sudden and aggressive.

They need to get the ball out of Jalen Hurts’ hands faster.

They must target the intermediate area of the field more and throw more frequently beyond the sticks.

They need to target WRs more over the middle of the field and reduce RB targets.

Additionally, they should operate with greater urgency. That could come from a faster pace of play coupled with improvement in the overall rhythm and tempo of the passing attack.

Remove the calmness and introduce more aggressiveness and purpose behind these early down pass plays in the first half of games.

With a focus on trying to jump out to leads earlier in games and a strong first half of aggressive play designs, calls, and execution, the Eagles will be in better shape to win games early, seal them late, and stay healthier in the process.

Don’t Miss Out On Our Historic Season

2023 has been Warren Sharp’s most profitable season betting on the NFL in the last decade.

To celebrate, we’re offering our readers a FREE WEEK of our betting & fantasy package, including sides, totals, props, predictions & game previews

Last week, Warren was 8-1 on elevated plays, 6-2 on sides and totals & hit four longshot props

Over the last 6 weeks, Warren has gone 37-13 (74%) on elevated plays & 34-18 (65%) on sides and totals

Historically, Warren has his best results late in the season, so it’s a perfect time to get on board with FREE WEEK.

» Learn more about this FREE WEEK offer!