Kyle Brandt and his creative team are always coming up with cool ideas for segments like all those oner (one take) sketches throughout the season, but consulting the world’s most visible astrophysicist to figure out how to halt the unstoppable force that is the Philadelphia Eagles’ Brotherly Shove might take the cake.
You can always count on Neil deGrasse Tyson to break things down on a macro, mind-blowing scientific level but still make the information digestible. Tyson has done it again here in describing why the Tush Push is such a difficult play to defend against.
His simple proclamation in the end is, “I’m going to say the obvious: That is an extremely effective play.” How he arrives at this conclusion is much more compelling than I just made it sound, I swear. Just watch the video.
What’s fascinating most to me is, the point is often made that Jalen Hurts is the engine that makes the play work so well, thanks to his ability to squat 600 pounds in the weight room. According to Tyson, Hurts’ kaiju quads — cooler than calling him Quadzilla, no? — have nothing to do with why Philadelphia can’t be stopped when they need a single yard:
“It is irrelevant on this play, because he’s airborne. He’s got two pushers here, one on each butt cheek. […] The guys who are connected to the Earth, their mass includes that of the Earth, because they’re attached to the Earth. OK? And so if these guys [defenders] want to press against them, they have to press not only their own body weight, but the ability of the Earth to hold them in place.”
It’s also interesting how the Eagles, in reality, get a quarter-second head start on the play because the defense can’t moved until after the ball is snapped. That split second of an edge in momentum transfer, combined with the leverage Philly’s elite offensive line plays with, is a killer combination that demoralizes the other team. Another brain-exploding anecdote: Every time the Eagles run the play, Tyson says, they slightly change the rotation of the Earth.
Tyson wants the NFL to celebrate the Tush Push, rather than ban it. I mean, I was vehemently against it to start. It’s a total stat-padding gimmick for Hurts to inflate his rushing TDs and hopeful MVP campaign every year. However, the Eagles are in the midst of a horrendous collapse, so it may not be for long anyway. Understanding it more from Tyson’s scientific perspective gives me a greater appreciation for it to where I’ve come full circle and don’t want to see it banned, either. Never thought I’d see the day.
If you want a firm mathematical equation on how to prevent the Brotherly Shove, I’m sorry to inform you, but even the striving, solution-oriented intellect of Neil deGrasse Tyson can’t give opposing NFL defenses a straight answer.
“I’ve thought long and hard about whether you can defend against that…and I haven’t come up with…I don’t know!”
I also love the moment where Tyson picks up Brandt to illustrate how much of a disadvantage defenders are at when they leap over the line of scrimmage and try to stop Hurts in the backfield.
The defender is no longer connected to the Earth when he does that. Meanwhile, Hurts’ thicc 220-pound frame is coming at him, with two anchored-into-the-ground teammates pushing him forward.
What an incredible innovation and commitment to the bit by the Eagles coaching staff. I didn’t know the full origins of the Tush Push until now. I was about to credit Indianapolis Colts head coach / last year’s NFC champion Philadelphia offensive coordinator Shane Steichen for it. Didn’t realize it was years in the making and actually owes more of its roots to Nick Sirianni.
Many are speculating that Sirianni’s job is on the line if the Birds lose at Tampa on Monday night. It’s interesting to wonder how much worse off Philadelphia might be without the Brotherly Shove as a virtually guaranteed yard in critical situations — and without Sirianni’s insistence on going back to that well over and over again.
Glad I have Tyson in my life to validate what began as an agitating, cheap play that has now somehow earned my utmost respect. Also, I can’t help but look at Sirianni a little differently. Thought he was an idiot after his opening press conference. He’s taking all the heat for how bad the Eagles are right now amid a 1-5 stretch. Perhaps it’s more complicated than it seems.