The Eagles Are Hacking the NFL, and It’s Not Just the Tush Push | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

Wake up! Sunday Night Football is over, and the Eagles have won, again.

Philadelphia took down the mighty Dolphins with a final score of 31-17, holding Miami’s offense to just 10 points. It wasn’t always pretty, nor was it the most beautiful aesthetic, even snooze-worthy at times, but that’s just the way the Eagles like it.

The Eagles won like they usually do — by dominating in the trenches.

Miami trailed by seven and moved the ball to the Philly 24 with 11 minutes left before Tua Tagovailoa threw an interception at the 1-yard line. Certainly not ideal, but in most situations, you’d expect a defense to hold stout, force a punt from deep, and get the ball back to the offense with great field position.

Not against the Eagles.

Philadelphia matriculated — and I do mean matriculated — the ball slowly down the field, running 13 plays over the next six-and-a-half minutes before punching it in for a touchdown to go up 14 with under five minutes left, and that was basically that.

For six weeks, the Dolphins have played football like a coalition of cheetahs streaking all over the field and winning with relentless speed. The Eagles act as a boa constrictor, slowly tightening their vice and sucking the very life out of the poor, hapless opponent.

Philadelphia’s style of offense can be boring and even downright demoralizing to watch. Just imagine how it feels to the team actually playing.

Philadelphia didn’t outlast Miami by being overly efficient, or at least, not in the usual way. The Eagles averaged 5.2 yards per play to 5.1 for the Dolphins. The problem is that Philadelphia ran 20 extra plays and ate up almost 37 minutes of the clock because the Dolphins defense could not get off the field. Check out Philly’s scoring drives:

  • 12 plays, 71 yards, FG
  • 9 plays, 61 yards, TD
  • 12 plays, 80 yards, TD
  • 8 plays, 75 yards, TD
  • 13 plays, 83 yards, TD


It’s not like Philadelphia throttled Miami. The Dolphins lost the battle but proved they belonged in the war.

There were times when Miami just ran right by Philly. Receivers ran free down the field past bewildered corners stuck in mud, and Raheem Mostert and the run game got going after halftime with some sweeping motion to the sidelines. This was not some disastrous result for Miami.

The Dolphins were down three offensive linemen, Jaylen Waddle was playing hurt and no De’Von Achane, the rookie RB literally averaging 12 yards per carry. The defense is still missing its best player, Jalen Ramsey, and Miami racked up 10 penalties to zero for Philly, yet Miami was driving with a chance to tie on the road in the fourth quarter against the defending NFC champs. All is not lost.

One thing Philadelphia’s defense never allowed Sunday night was the huge, back-breaking plays Miami has punished every other opponent with. Miami’s longest play of the night went just 29 yards — to Cedrick Wilson. Tyreek Hill had 11 catches for 88 yards. Jaylen Waddle had six for 63. Mostert ran nine times for 45 yards. Those are all efficient enough touches, if you did them play after play down the field.

But Philadelphia knew Miami wouldn’t. It’s like the Eagles said,  “We can do these boring 10- and 15-play drives up and down the field all night, and you can’t.”

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The Eagles break the way we understand football because they don’t even appear to be efficient. Outside of one 22-yard run, Philadelphia ran 33 times for 77 yards. Jalen Hurts ran 11 times for 22 yards. Kenneth Gainwell matched that 2.0 YPC on eight carries. Only A.J. Brown’s numbers pop. But it doesn’t matter.

The Eagles went 4-of-12 on third down, but that number is lying to you. Philadelphia also went 4-for-4 on fourth down, which means the Eagles actually went 8-of-12 on third down. They just used four of those third downs to set up the unstoppable Tush Push for easy fourth-down conversions.

Philly folks prefer we call it the Brotherly Shove, and I don’t particularly enjoy watching a rugby scrum a few times a game, but there’s no denying how useful it is. The Eagles are hacking football.

Entering Sunday, NFL teams not named the Eagles had reached 3rd or 4th down and 2 yards or less to go 803 times. They converted those plays into a first down (or touchdown) 413 times, about 51.4% of the time. They settled for a field goal 35 times. They turned it over 16 times and punted 82 more — effectively an opt-in turnover, freely giving the ball to the other team. That’s a lot of failure.

The Eagles have now faced 32 such 3rd or 4th-and-shorts. They’ve recorded zero turnovers, zero punts, and zero field goals. Only six times all season have the Eagles failed to convert once reaching that spot, just twice on a failed Tush Push. On Sunday, Philly was 4-for-4 on Tush Pushes and scored 17 points on those drives, including 2-for-2 on the late clinching TD drive.

Philadelphia has hacked the game.

Every other NFL team has to go 10 yards in three downs to get a new series. The Eagles only have to go eight. Get to 3rd-and-2 and it’s basically a free first down. The Eagles have literally made the game 20% easier on themselves — and that’s not even counting the goal line pushes.

Any guesses on the worst team in the league in those late down and short situations?

Why, the Miami Dolphins, of course! The Dolphins have converted only three times all season on 3rd or 4th-and-short, fewest in the NFL. Philadelphia topped that tonight alone and has now converted in 23 such situations this season.

Four weeks ago, I wrote that the Dolphins offense was breaking modern football.

The Eagles are breaking modern football by quite literally breaking modern football.

While the rest of the league is going the way of college offenses, constant motion, dazzling speed at every turn, Philadelphia has turned back the clock 75 years. They’re just running it right up the middle like an Army-Navy game. Heck, they’re not even running. They’re straight up pushing opponents down the field.

What would it look like if a team in another sport hacked the game like the Eagles?

On Wednesday, 7-foot-4 Victor Wembanyama will make his NBA debut for the San Antonio Spurs. Wemby can reach up and touch the rim flat-footed. What if Wembanyama could just reach up near the hoop and tap the ball toward the basket all night, possession after possession, tip after tip, until the Spurs scored nearly every time?

It wouldn’t exactly be pretty to watch, but it wouldn’t be illegal (nor unprecedented; see also Moses Malone) and it would give the Spurs a decided advantage over — quite literally — every opponent.

What if a modern baseball team perfected the bunt? Anytime it wanted, they could bunt perfectly down the line with any batter at over an 80% success rate, putting the batter on first and moving every runner up a base. Would it be fun? Heck no! But it would be successful. Some might even wonder if that team should just bunt, play after play, all night. Why not?

Hey, you know who this is all pretty fun for? Eagles fans.

I played baseball as a kid. I wasn’t very good once we started overhand pitch. I was afraid of the ball. But I did figure one thing out: if I could just stick my bat out and get a bunt down, those opposing middle schoolers couldn’t field a bunt to save their lives.

I batted 31-of-34 that season. I even hit a handful of doubles, triples, and even “home runs” as I scampered around the bases while opponents yakety saxxed the ball all over the field.

It was goofy, and I never actually learned how to hit a fastball. But it worked! And I sure had fun.

Philadelphia has hacked the game of modern football. The Eagles have mastered the perfect bunt. They can tip it in on every possession. They only have to gain eight yards versus 10 for everyone else.

It might not be fun to watch — but it works. And we’re gonna have to keep on watching it until somebody figures out how to stop it.

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