The NFC Championship game is returning to the City of Brotherly Love for the first time in five years, and with it, comes quite the intriguing matchup. The Philadelphia Eagles and San Fransisco 49ers were the NFC’s top two teams all season, and both teams feel like they have earned their place in this year’s NFC Championship Game… because they have.
The 49ers are one of the hottest teams in football, winning 12 straight games and riding one of the fastest-ascending names in the NFL. Their seventh-round rookie quarterback, Brock Purdy, has only started seven NFL games, but he’s won them all. This has caused the 2022 NFL Draft’s Mr. Irrelevant to draw praise as the greatest quarterback taken on the Draft’s third day since Tom Brady.
So is there a way the Eagles can hand Purdy and the 49ers their first loss together? It certainly seems like there is a way. While the Eagles’ have a high-powered offense behind their own superstar quarterback, Jalen Hurts, the crack in San Francisco’s armor lies in a spot that will require the Eagles’ defense to expose it.
Pressuring Brock Purdy is the Philadelphia Eagles’ key to beating the 49ers on Championship Sunday.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been phenomenal at bringing pressure to opposing quarterbacks all season long. Their pass rush tallied 70 sacks during the regular season before dragging Daniel Jones to the turf five times in the Divisional Round.
As you know, their 70 QB takedowns in the regular season were the second most by an NFL team in pro football’s history. The defensive line also featured four players who each earned 10 sacks or more in one season. That’s the first time in NFL history that has happened.
The Eagles’ defense also led the NFL with 97 tackles that resulted in a loss of yardage during the regular season while forcing 15 fumbles. First-year Eagle Hasson Reddick led the way with 16 sacks,11 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles. He’s no stranger to big plays, Just check this one out from his dominating showing in Week 4.
Philadelphia will need his play-making ability to to shut down Kyle Shanahan’s offense. There’s no doubt about it.
Brock Purdy has been great for the 49ers in his limited starts; however, as Pro Football Focus suggests, the level of his performance falls off significantly when he is pressured When kept clean, Purdy completes 73.3 percent of his throws, averages 9.1 yards per attempt, and has a passer rating of 115.7. When Purdy faces pressure, his completion percentage drops to 46.9, his yards per attempt falls to 6.6, and Purdy’s passer rating facing pressure is only a mark on 88.1.
That’s to be expected with a young quarterback. That’s a nice building block for Philly’s defensive game plan.
Brock Purdy’s playing style could play into the Philadelphia Eagles’ hands.
While there is a drop in Purdy’s performance when he faces pressure, it wouldn’t mean anything if the Eagles couldn’t find a way to get through the 49ers’ offensive line. Fortunately, it does not seem like this will be the case for the Eagles’ defensive line on Sunday.
The Philadelphia Eagles are among the NFL’s top three teams when the discussion turns to creating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They amassed 168 this season. That’s the second-highest total in the NFL this year, and they earned that toteven thoughhat the Eagles rarely sent the blitz.
Philly’s attacking style was on full display during the Divisional Round. Expect Jonathan Gannon to attack the Niners as well.
The 49ers’ offensive line might experience some difficulty versus Philly’s defensive line. The Birds are the class of the NFL in terms of both depth and talent. Four of the five offensive linemen starting in the NFC Championship have allowed 13 or more QB pressures this season. This includes two players who allowed over 20 QB pressures.
For comparison, the Eagles had four of their five starting offensive linemen allow 13 or fewer QB pressures. Only one player allowed more than 20.
Brock Purdy’s play style could also create opportunities for Philly’s defensive line. He holds on to the ball much longer than he should. Typically, he averages 2.84 seconds between the snap and the throw. That ranks him 25th among active quarterbacks.
What’s interesting about this is the longer reads aren’t a result of pushing the ball down the field. Out of 40 qualifying quarterbacks (those with at least 135 pass attempts this season), Purdy ranked 35th in air distance as his passing average equates to throws that typically connect 2.1 yards short of the first down marker.
While Purdy has done an incredible job this season and is undefeated as a starter after spending most of his season as the 49ers’ third-string quarterback, expect the magic to run out this Sunday. The Philadelphia Eagles possess a defensive line that can overwhelm the young passer. The rookie will have to wait to lead his team to the Super Bowl.