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September 23, 2023

Turns out the 'tush push' is only 'unstoppable' when the Eagles do it

Eagles NFL
Goalline-sneak_Eagles_Vikings_Frese.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

"Tush push" TD

In recent years, the Philadelphia Eagles have relied heavily on QB sneaks on third- and fourth-down short yardage situations, converting on them at an extremely high rate. In 2022, they took their QB sneak efficiency to a new level by lining up players behind Jalen Hurts and pushing him over the line to gain for first downs or touchdowns.

They even did it on football's biggest stage against the Chiefs in the Super Bowl, which only brought more attention to it.

Hoping to stop it off of the field instead of on it, a number of other NFL teams unsuccessfully attempted this past offseason to outlaw the so-called "tush push."

"All I know is everything we're doing is legal and it works, and just because people do something that’s really good, doesn't mean it should be outlawed," Howie Roseman said at the NFL Combine in February.

"I think some defensive coaches are bringing that up right there," Nick Sirianni added at the Combine. "No, we'll play with whatever rules they have. I think that it was obviously a very successful play for us... but it wasn't the only thing we were doing off it, right? I think we had some exciting plays that came off it when the defenses were trying to stop the play that they thought was coming. That's what football is, right? 

"Hey, I don't get a vote. They don't ask me. I thought that there was a lot of hard work that went into it. There is a lot of the technique and fundamentals that go into it as far as how our guys block it and the specialty of our guys, like Jason Kelce."

Tush push detractors went away for a while, until the Eagles ran a pair of them for touchdowns against the Vikings in front of a national audience on Thursday Night Football Week 2.

Predictably, many of the national writers who have lobbied against the tush push took the opportunity to speak out about it once again, like NBC's Peter King for example, via @PHLEaglesNation:

"I am on record last year many times loudly saying it's an abomination. It's an idiotic rule. And the NFL has made, in my opinion, a terrible mistake in not legislating a rugby play out of the NFL.”

On his "New Heights podcast, Jason Kelce responded to King's comments:

I'll transcribe that for you.

Abomination? That's a strong word. That's an interesting quote. First of all, abomination is a strong word. Usually you'll hear that with like serial killers. That's like, against the Lord, right? Like what is the definition of abomination? This is ungodly? That's a strong word for a quarterback sneak play.

What do we want to outlaw it for? Just because it's a really, really, highly successful play? Or it's like, unfair.

What does [Peter King] have against rugby? If I'm a rugby fan, I'm like, 'Screw you, Peter King.' What's wrong with rugby? ... The NFL has already taken concepts from basketball and other sports. We run picks on certain routes. Technically we don't call them picks... Rub plays, whatever you want to call them. Triangle offense, we talk about angles and spacing, stuff like that. We already take concepts from other sports. Apparently Peter King just doesn't like rugby. He's just s****ing all over rugby like it's not a f***ing exciting sport. There's a s*** ton of people who watch rugby, Peter King.

The other thing I think is, if it's because we're really good at it, what else are you going to outlaw that other people are really good at? Are we going to outlaw, like, Patrick Mahomes can't operate a two-minute drill because he's the best in the world at it? Like, hey, get Patty on the sideline. This is unfair. This is an unfair advantage for the Kansas City Chiefs. We're going to outlaw, like, Justin Tucker can't kick a ball over 50 yards? Get him out of there. It's too automatic. It's not fair. He's too good at it.

If it's an unfair advantage I think you would see the rest of the league doing it at 92 percent. But as we saw Week 1, four other teams missed quarterback sneaks. 

Below is a video of three failed iterations of the tush push from Week 1:

And I don't know what this was, but it also failed:

"Yeah, not everyone has Jason Kelce, Landon Dickerson, Cam Jurgens," Nick Sirianni said on Saturday. "Not everybody has Jordan Mailata. Not everybody has Lane Johnson on the other side. Not everybody has that type of quarterback.

"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, which is where you get — you hear it and you're like, well, 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."

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