KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brotherly Shove, tush push, quarterback sneak: whatever you want to call the Philadelphia Eagles’ short yardage play, the Kansas City Chiefs are the latest team to challenge it on Monday night.
The rugby-style QB sneak that the Eagles use to have three players push Jalen Hurts forward has been nearly unstoppable since they debuted it under head coach Nick Sirianni.
The play surpassed 90% efficiency last season and is 21 of 25 attempts (84%), according to Sports Info Solutions this season.
In Super Bowl 57, the last time these two times faced off, the Eagles attempted the play six times and converted all six times including two for touchdowns.
On Thursday, defensive tackle Chris Jones joked that the Chiefs need to study rugby defense to combat it.
“They’re so good at it,” Jones said. “Unfortunately we haven’t watched any rugby style of defense yet but we’ll figure something out.”
“I guess they got the magic to how to get it down,” defensive end Mike Danna said. “What we can do is just try to get behind it and push our tails off.”
DE Charles Omenihu stated one of the biggest reasons for the play’s success.
“They got big [offensive] lineman,” Omenihu said. “They get low and Jalen [is] a big quarterback. They’ve perfected it, gonna have to find a way on 4th and 1 to stop that.”
The Eagles also have some wrinkles to the tush push. They have shown handoffs to running back Kenneth Gainwell and even pitches to Gainwell as well as switch-ups.
The Chiefs know that the key to stopping the short-yardage phenomenon that has some pushing for a ban of the play is to simply keep the Eagles from getting into short-yardage situations.
“First and second down are huge,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said. “To end up in those shorter third downs is really tough against this team. I mean, they’ll run it on a 3rd and 7 and then go for it on fourth down, we know that. So they keep you on your toes. So we just feel like first and second down was a key down for us in this game.”
The Eagles are right under the Chiefs in rushing yards per attempt at 18th in the NFL. But stopping Hurts and stopping the run is the key that the Chiefs believe will help their world-beating defense even though the Eagles’ skies are led by AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith.
Brown is second in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,005 and six touchdowns.
“Eliminate the run game,” Jones said about stopping Hurts.
“If we’re able to limit how many yards he gets per carry then I think we’re doing something good. Force hands in his face and take him down in the passing game. Get around him, overcrowd him. They have such a good offensive line who have done really, really well so far this year, so we have to come up with schemes and everything to affect Jalen Hurts.”