With 9:50 left in the first quarter of the NFC Championship game, Miles Sanders ran the ball up the middle and into the end zone on an RPO from 6 yards out … untouched.
With 1:40 left in the second quarter, Sanders got the ball again on another RPO to the outside and dashed for a 13-yard touchdown run … untouched.
With 21 seconds left in the first half, Boston Scott took another RPO handoff to the right side at the 10-yard line and scampered in … touched only at the 3.
Three touchdowns, 29 yards, and only one contact with a defender against a 49ers defense that was ranked first in the NFL in EPA per rush attempt allowed during the regular season. Overall, the Eagles ran for 148 yards and four touchdowns against the 49ers, with a large part of this success being credited to the dominant performance of the Eagles’ offensive line.
The Eagles were able to dominate the 49ers’ defensive front just like they were able to dominate their opponents all season. Their offensive line accumulated the most Blocking Total Points in the Total Points era (since 2016) duting the course of the regular season. On top of that, Jason Kelce, Landon Dickerson, and Issac Seumalo all came in the top five in Blocking Total Points on an individual level, and Lane Johnson was second among all right tackles.
The success of the Eagles’ offensive line from an individual standpoint comes from experience in Kelce and Johnson (eight combined All-Pro teams) and a decorated young guard in Dickerson who fell to the second round of the 2021 draft after tearing his ACL at Alabama.
Taking this talent and pairing it with a good scheme shot the Eagles up to first in EPA per rush attempt this season. Not only do they rank first overall, they rank at the top in just about every way one can think to attack on the ground.
They rank first in positive run percentage in both gap and zone scheme runs, while ranking 16th and 19th in usage, illustrating the balance. They also rank fourth and second in positive run percentage against a stacked and light box, respectively.
They are one of the best teams in the NFL utilizing the RPO game, ranking second in EPA per rush attempt. Their RPOs had a lot of success against the 49ers, especially on the scoring plays.
Let’s Take a Look
For example, the first touchdown the Eagles scored in the NFC Championship showed a combination of a good push from the line and a scheme that resulted in a big hole for Sanders to hit for six.
As a called RPO, 49ers linebacker Fred Warner had the responsibility to keep eyes on Jalen Hurts if he were to keep the ball. As seen below, he flows towards Hurts after the handoff takes place.
After the handoff is when the linemen get to work. A Kelce-Dickerson double team on the left and a Seumalo-Johnson double team on the right created walls that paved the way for Sanders to get into the end zone. The double teams started at the 6-yard line and ended up going all the way to the two-yard line.
The Eagles’ O-line has been moving defenders around like this all season and is one of the main reasons as to why they made it to the Super Bowl. They will certainly be a big factor if they go on to win.
The matchup against the Chiefs’ front will be a step down in class from the 49ers in the trenches matchup. Even though they will have to deal with Defensive Player of the Year finalist Chris Jones, the Chiefs’ front seven ranked just 22nd in Total Points per 60 plays per The Trenches Tool. Even if the Chiefs try to line up Jones at different spots – as they did against the Bengals – the Eagles don’t have a glaring weakness where he would be able to take advantage.
In terms of blown block percentage, the Eagles have a significant advantage, especially in the run game. They allow the second-lowest blown block percentage on runs and fifth-lowest on passes, while the Chiefs generate the fifth-lowest on runs and 12th-highest on passes.
The Eagles’ pass blocking hasn’t been as good as their run blocking, but they still rank in the top 10 in Pass Blocking Total Points per 60 plays. Thanks to Chris Jones, the Chiefs rank seventh in Pass Rush Total Points per 60 plays, so that matchup is a little more even.
If the Eagles are able to stay on their schedule offensively, they have an opportunity to exploit a major advantage up front via the run game. They have been able to do this all season as one of the better offensive lines of the past seven years, and there are no signs of slowing down now.
James Weaver contributed to this report