Eagles Wake-Up Call: Birds Use Slow-Moving No-Huddle

Given that the Eagles’ offense is averaging just 16 points per game (second-worst in the NFL), you get the sense that Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg are willing to try just about anything to get Michael Vick and company on the right track.

Since Week 2, the offense has been using some form of the no-huddle throughout games – not just at the end of halves. What’s the reasoning behind the move? Well, not all no-huddles are created equal.

I went back and looked at last week’s no-huddle plays. The offense used it at some point on five of eight of their offensive drives. But in all, they only ran eight total plays without huddling.

Chris Brown of SmartFootball.com wrote an excellent piece on the no-huddle earlier this year. A couple of the advantages he mentioned were that it can tire out a defense and limit the opponents’ substitutions. But the Eagles’ no-huddle really has nothing to do with those things. Of the eight plays they ran out of the no-huddle last week, the Eagles actually changed personnel on offense seven times. And the defense had time to do the same. On most occasions, the play clock was under 10 when the ball was finally snapped.

If the Eagles are not using the no-huddle to speed up tempo, then what’s the point?

“It gives us more time on the play clock,” said Eagles right tackle Todd Herremans. “If we’re already up at the line, we don’t have to rush up and then see everything set up.”

That seems to be the real key here. The Eagles have worked all offseason with Vick on his pre-snap adjustments. They are also working with a backup center in Dallas Reynolds. And defenses are giving them all kinds of looks at the line of scrimmage.

The no-huddle allows the offense to get in place early and look at what the defense is showing. While the Eagles often times waited awhile last week before actually snapping the ball, there were a couple occasions where they ran a play quickly. It’s another way to keep the defense off-balance and dictate tempo. Given how often teams are blitzing Vick, anything the offense can do to gain an advantage in pass protection is worth a shot.

I’d expect to see the no-huddle used even more going forward.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Could the Eagles look to deal running back Dion Lewis? Could they get anything for him? T-Mac explores in his weekly mailbag.

Tim uses the All-22 to explain how Ben Roethlisberger out-smarted the Birds’ defense on a key third down in the fourth quarter. And I used the All-22 to look at what we learned about the Birds’ defense last week.

Will the Eagles turn to DeSean Jackson to return punts? We take a look at the option.

A day after choosing not to address it, Vick admitted to owning a dog.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie talked about the possibility of matching up against Calvin Johnson.

And finally, Brian Dawkins talked about a variety of topics, including dealing with depression, cutting alcohol out of his life and suffering concussions as a player.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

The Eagles only allowed one pass play of 20 yards or more against the Steelers. But Matthew Stafford and the Lions will look to test them downfield.

“We need explosive plays, whether it be through the run or the pass,” Stafford said, per the Detroit Free Press. “We don’t really care what it is, we just want plays of 20 yards or more and those equal points in this league. And the more and more you can do of those, the more and more points you’re going to score and that gives you a better chance to win.”

Bovada released its latest set of Super Bowl odds. The Eagles went from 20/1 to 28/1 after their loss to the Steelers. The over/under for Eagles sacks on Sunday is 2.5. Might be a little high considering the Birds have gone sack-less in their last two games. You can also bet on whether Vick will have a fumble against the Lions:

Yes (+150)
No (-200)

Which way do you go?

COMING UP

Reid will address the media as the Birds fine-tune preparations for Sunday afternoon’s matchup.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.