Should the controversial play be allowed?

Outside of the Travis Kelce-Taylor Swift saga, one storyline has dominated the NFL news cycle this season: the “tush push.” Also dubbed “the brotherly shove,” the tush push is a new take on the classic quarterback sneak that the Philadelphia Eagles have perfected, much to the dismay of opposing fans.

It starts out like any quarterback sneak—a quarterback lined up under center in a short-yardage situation. However, this variation features running backs in the backfield actively pushing the quarterback from behind, hence the name. Many compare the play to a rugby scrum.

The Eagles have been nearly unstoppable running the play this season, operating with a 92% success rate in short-yardage situations. As a result, fierce debates ensued on sports talk shows and social media. 

Advocates for the play cite a number of reasons as to why it should be allowed. Simply put,  it’s the fault of the defense if they can’t stop the offense. By rule, the play has also been legal since 2005 when the NFL reversed its stance on allowing offensive players to be pushed by teammates.

Since the play is legal and the Eagles have nearly perfected it, one might think that every team could be as dominant running the same exact play, right? Not exactly.

While other teams like the New York Giants have tried to replicate “the brotherly shove,” the Eagles are by far the best at it. According to ESPN, four teams attempting the play have failed on their only attempts; however, the overall league success rate is 81%.  

So what makes the Eagles so successful? 

Philadelphia fans most commonly cite Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts’ ridiculous strength and the talent of their offensive line. Hurts, who stands 6’1” and weighs 223 pounds, is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams, especially considering he squats 600 pounds. 

Those against the play have made their voices heard arguing player safety and questioning its fairness. Putting players in a rugby-like scrum can lead to an increased risk of injury. Although the league won’t have enough injury-related data until the season is over, the New York Giants saw two players get injured running it in week four against Seattle. 

Others argue that the play puts the defense at an unfair disadvantage. 

Former NFL superstar Richard Sherman spoke out against the play on X (formerly Twitter) saying, “My problem with the tush push is the @NFL literally banned defensive players from pushing other players into the offensive formation on FG and PATs because it was a “Health and safety issue” but now it’s ok because it benefits the offense?”  

Similarly, fans and former players have argued that the tush push simply isn’t a football play. Despite the history of the sport being largely focused on smash-mouth, ground-pound football, fans argue this is turning the sport into rugby. 

Eagles offensive tackle Jordan Mailata, who played professional rugby in Australia took issue with this comparison. 

“I think you’re doing a disservice to the sport and the players that play rugby. It’s got nothing to do with the pushes, it’s got something to do with the QB who can squat 600 pounds,” Mailata said.

Despite the ongoing debate, it is likely the play will be examined by the NFL Competition Committee and outlawed next season. However, even without “the brotherly shove,” the Eagles should be just as dominant running a traditional quarterback sneak behind Hurts and the best offensive line in the NFL.