09/26 08:36 CDT The Philadelphia Eagles' 'tush push' is becoming the NFL's most
The Philadelphia Eagles' 'tush push' is becoming the NFL's most unstoppable play
By ROB MAADDI
AP Pro Football Writer
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) --- The most unstoppable play in the NFL was on full display
under the bright lights Monday night.
When the Philadelphia Eagles need a yard, they often resort to the "tush push. "
Quarterback Jalen Hurts lines up under center with two or three players behind
him. He takes the snap, the offensive line surges forward and Hurts gets a big
push from behind.
It almost always works. Even when it doesn't, the Eagles do it again.
Hurts was stopped short of the end zone on third down from the 1 in the third
quarter of a 25-11 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. So
Philadelphia went for it on fourth down. Tight end Dallas Goedert, running back
D'Andre Swift and wide receiver A.J. Brown provided the push from behind and
Hurts crossed the goal line for a touchdown that made it 20-3.
In the fourth quarter, the Eagles did it successfully for the fourth time
against the Buccaneers to extend a drive that chewed up the final 9:22.
Philadelphia had tremendous success with the "tush push" last year on the way
to reaching the Super Bowl, going 37 for 41. Opponents hate it because they
can't beat it. Enough complaints by other coaches led to discussion about
potentially banning the play, but the NFL's competition committee didn't come
up with a rule to be put to vote that would prohibit it.
The Eagles can do it as often as they wish this season. The play has been legal
in the NFL since 2005 when the league removed the language in the rule book
that prohibited pushing offensive players. But no team has taken advantage of
it quite like the Eagles under coach Nick Sirianni and Hurts.
It helps having a quarterback who can squat 600 pounds and a dominant offensive
line that features All-Pro center Jason Kelce, Pro Bowl left guard Landon
Dickerson and All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson.
"Obviously it's a play that we've had a lot of success with over the last few
years and it's just a physical play," Goedert said. "Jalen does a good job
finding the weak spot of the zone. They were trying to jump over the pile today
but I was ready for that in the back. If we need a yard, we're gonna get a yard
with our O-line. ... Jalen is gonna fight for it."
On the sneak that resulted in a TD, Goedert put his arm around Hurts and tried
to lift him in.
"I was yanking him for sure," Goedert said. "They say you can't pull, but I was
The Buccaneers tried a different strategy by having defensive linemen leap over
the offensive line to try to stop Hurts.
"We've seen it with linebackers, but their nose tackle was trying to jump over,
too," Goedert said. "It's one of those things where once they get their feet
off the ground, it's better for us, so if they jump, we're going to get that
(forward) movement for sure. It's a risky play for them. I think they need to
get (Steelers Hall of Famer) Troy Polamalu to time it up perfectly. That's the
only shot they got."
Dickerson summed up the key to success.
"Execute your assignment," he said.
In a copycat league, other teams have tried it. The Colts, Jaguars and Bears
failed their attempts in Week 1. Nobody matches Philadelphia's success rate and
"Not everyone has Jason Kelce, Landon Dickerson, Cam Jurgens. Not everybody has
Jordan Mailata. Not everybody has Lane Johnson on the other side. Not everybody
has that type of quarterback," Sirianni said last week. "We noticed that last
year when people were making maybe some big deals about it. There are a lot
that are unsuccessful. ... But there is clearly a talent to it that our guys
have, because it's not as --- maybe it's automatic right now for the
Philadelphia Eagles --- but it's not automatic around the NFL.
"I get that some people are complaining about it, but stop it. Stop the play.
It's not as automatic as people think as we're seeing across the NFL. Our
players make it work, right? Frankly, us as coaches aren't doing anything.
We're calling the play and the players are going out there and making it work.
Now, we did a lot of studies on everything in the offseason to help ourselves
be even better at it, but it's about those guys up front. It's about Jalen. I
think we would be pretty successful without the push, but we're just pushing
them sometimes to give that extra thump."
The Eagles even tried to fake a "tush push" in the third quarter, perhaps to
give defenses something else to consider. Hurts started to drop back, but he
stumbled and was tackled for a loss.
"I don't think it's stoppable two plays in a row. I think we had one or two
here and there," Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said. "That's a lot of weight on
both sides. It's a great play that they got. They crafted it. The offensive
line coach does a great job. They have a big athletic quarterback and you got
push behind so it's going to be tough. But we knew that going in."
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