Inside Zone: The Foundation Of the Eagles’ Offense

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Before the drill begins, Jeff Stoutland shouts out a two-digit number, signaling the call to his offensive linemen.

He sets up a couple yards behind the line of scrimmage as Jason Kelce prepares to snap the ball, flanked by guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. With 16 offensive linemen in camp, Stoutland is in charge of the largest positional group on the roster. But that can be a good thing on days like this. Before it’s their turn for reps, a couple backups hold orange blocking pads and set up as down defensive linemen. Two more stand behind them imitating linebackers.

It’s an 81-degree day in early June, and the Eagles are on the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex working on the blocking scheme for a familiar call: the inside zone. It’s a play Stoutland ran frequently at his previous stop, Alabama. And it was Chip Kelly’s go-to-work play during his time at Oregon.

When Kelly made the jump to the NFL last year, the inside zone served as the foundation for an offense that set franchise records in yards and points. So there’s a good reason why Stoutland yells the same number for the same call over and over again during practice. The pre-snap communication has to be mastered. The footwork has to be flawless. The combination blocks have to be executed. And the second-level linebackers have to be driven down the field with authority.

“It’s something we work on every day,” said offensive tackle Lane Johnson. “It’s always gonna be our bread and butter.” Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: RB Training Camp Preview

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We have already covered the defensive linequarterbacks and outside linebackers. Now it’s on to the running backs.

The pressing question: Will Chip Kelly lighten LeSean McCoy’s workload?

On his way to setting the franchise record for rushing yards, McCoy led the NFL in carries (314) and touches (366). Only Chicago’s Matt Forte played more snaps. The Eagles added Darren Sproles in the offseason. Does that mean they want to give McCoy more of a breather in 2014? Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: OLB Training Camp Preview

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We started with the defensive line and quarterbacks. Now it’s on to the outside linebackers.

The pressing question: How much will Marcus Smith contribute as a rookie?

This is one of the bigger overall summer questions for the Eagles. Moving from college to the NFL, rookies’ heads are often spinning during spring practices. They’re in a new place with new teammates, new coaches and a new playbook.

That’s why Smith spent most of OTAs and minicamp getting reps with the third team behind Connor Barwin and Bryan Braman at the Jack spot. Once he returns to the practice field in a couple weeks, coaches will expect him to start showing progress. While the Eagles drafted Smith with an eye on the future, they expect him to contribute this season. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: QB Training Camp Preview

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We started with the defensive line. Now it’s on to the quarterbacks.

The pressing question: What will Nick Foles do for an encore?

In the coming weeks, you’re likely to see a lot of national pundits make bold statements like: There’s no way Foles can repeat his performance from a year ago.

Of course, that’s not exactly going out on a limb. The Eagles’ signal-caller had 29 touchdowns, two interceptions and posted the third-highest QB rating in NFL history. In all likelihood, there will be some kind of statistical dropoff.

Jason Wood of FootballGuys.com put together a good piece that showed just how rare Foles’ numbers were from last year. Even with some regression, he predicted a 4,065-yard season with 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. It might not seem like it given how Foles performed last season, but that would be fantastic production. Read more »

All-22: Double Posts In the Red Zone

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Chip Kelly doesn’t understand the typically accepted definition of the red zone.

“It’s always kind of been humorous to me where the line, the 20, became the official red zone,” he said during a PhiladelphiaEagles.com video last year. “It starts at the 20. And if you’re at the 21, it’s not a red zone.

“The red zone for us is the scoring zone. So what’s the yard to gain for us? And if we don’t score, can we put our field goal team out on the field and kick a field goal? Usually if it’s a good day, no weather involved, it’s somewhere between the 33- and 35-yard line. And that’s where the red zone starts for us offensively. For our defense, it’s the same thing.”

Regardless, one concept Kelly went to when the Eagles reached that scoring zone was double posts – a common red-zone call around the NFL. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: D-Line Training Camp Preview

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Leading up to training camp on July 25, we’ll have a position-by-position preview of the Eagles’ roster. We start with the defensive line.

The pressing question: Can Fletcher Cox make the leap?

Cox has been a productive player and shown off his unique blend of power and athleticism on several occasions. But he’s yet to put it all together. The third-year player has had three different defensive coordinators and three different defensive line coaches in his first two seasons. Now he gets some continuity under position coach Jerry Azzinaro. Cox demonstrated in 2013 that he could indeed play defensive end in a two-gap 3-4 after firing off the ball as a defensive tackle in a 4-3 as a rookie. Read more »

McCoy: Foles Was ‘Lights Out’ In the Spring

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

LeSean McCoy was honored Wednesday with the 2014 John Wanamaker Athletic Award.

And during the ceremony, he spoke with reporters on a variety of topics – one of which was Nick Foles.

“Nick, he wants to play, he wants to get better,” McCoy said, via CSNPhilly.com. “He’s playing lights-out even in camp, but he still wants to be at a higher level. He’s at that peak where people know him like, ‘Man, this Foles, is he that good?’ Because you see the stats, you see the numbers. I think this is the year he blows ‘em out like, ‘Yeah, I’m Nick Foles. I’m Philadelphia’s quarterback. I’m the guy.’ And this is the year he blows it away.” Read more »

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