Hoge: Eagles Offense Most Vanilla In NFL

kelly_400_102613Earlier this week, Phil Simms called the Eagles’ offense one of the worst five units in the NFL.

On Friday, it was Merril Hoge’s turn to go in on Chip Kelly and company. Appearing on 97.5 The Fanatic with Joe DeCamara and Adam Caplan, the ESPN analyst said he’s been unimpressed with what he’s seen so far.

“I think it’s the most vanilla offense in football,” Hoge said.


"In college, the bottom line is my athlete is better than your athlete. I'm gonna win a high percentage of the time. In the National Football League, it's about matchups. You have to do something each and every week to put your best guys in the best matchups you can create. And I will tell you this, every week when I plug in the Eagles' offense, it's the most vanilla. They start out with the bubble screen, they have the three wide receivers on one side, the option. But I think the thing that's probably most disturbing is it's starting to take its toll and you're starting to see the effects of a college system being applied to the National Football League."

Even after last week's clunker, the Eagles' offense is eighth in Football Outsiders' rankings, second in yards per game, third in yards per play and 13th in scoring.

The Eagles lead the NFL in pass plays of 20+ yards. DeSean Jackson is on pace for 84 catches and 1,393 yards - both would be career highs.

The Eagles' run game has stalled in two of the past three weeks, but LeSean McCoy is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and leads the league with 685 yards on the ground. Football Outsiders has the Eagles' run game ranked No. 1, but Hoge doesn't like what he sees there either.

"When they run the football, you cannot run on the perimeter in the National Football League and be consistent," Hoge said. "You may get there a couple of times. But right after the Chiefs played them with a certain structured defense, they eliminated that. They gave up one big run. The Cowboys didn't give up any runs to Philadelphia. And I know that Chip Kelly, I've heard he's about numbers. We try to get more numbers than they have in the blocking scheme, have five to their four. And what's interesting about the running game, because it's always lateral, there's always some delay element to it, there's nothing that's aggressive to the line of scrimmage.

"Adrian Peterson, that's why he's so dynamic is that they play to the strength of Adrian. And most running games in the NFL are downhill, they play in the middle, and you have to do some sense of that. And they have nothing. None of that. And defenses now, those linebackers just sit there and hover, and they flow and fly to the ball, it's hard for the offensive line to get to them. When you're delayed like a half-a-second to a second, your safety may not be accounted for in the box initially. But because you've delayed in the backfield so long, the safety gets there and there's nobody to account for him. They've got a bunch of college coaches. Do they have time to adapt to being better at creating matchups and understanding the NFL game? Only time will tell that."

Asked about the Eagles' personnel, Hoge said: "You still got what you got, and you gotta try and take advantage of that the best you can. And that's where I think his big problem is. He doesn't do that week in and week out. They've got a system. They try to play to the numbers game. But the league's not about numbers."

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

    Dumbest analyst ESPN has…and that’s saying something.

    He is also a notorious Eagle hater–has been for years.

    • Steve

      Yah. Picked the Eagles to go 6-10 the year they went to the Super Bowl. Can’t put much stock in anything he says.

      Also took away credibility when he said what the number 1 rushing offense in the league is doing doesn’t work.

      • Brandon Boykin, OLB

        He picked against them EVERY week! I remember the montage they showed of Merrill picking against them 13 times. I’ve HATED him ever since.

    • Max Lightfoot

      Not to mention those stupid custom suits and fat ties that make him look ridiculous. And don’t get me started on those ears.

  • poetx99

    this is without question (hoge) the dumbest article i’ve read this year.

    on another website we use hate (unfounded negative opinions) and hoge synonymously.

  • I am mike vick

    Peyton manning throws about 10 bubble screens a game. Guess there vanilla to huh??

  • JofreyRice

    it’s possible this is entirely true, yet doesn’t matter at all. So far, playing man has slowed it down, but never stopped it. The Dallas debacle was on Foles, guys were open. Playing zone coverage gets you killed. So even if it bores Merrell to watch, this “college offense” is still putting up points and yards against NFL defenses. Clumsy critique informed almost entirely by confirmation bias.

    • poetx99

      “Clumsy critique informed almost entirely by confirmation bias.”

      ^^^ this. how do you completely ignore the eagles’ statistical ranking. you can say the offense isn’t revolutionary, or back off some of the superlatives from earlier in the season. but you can’t say it doesn’t work. it is working week in and out. foles had to be extra terrible last week to NOT hit receivers. and this is still without us having a legit #2 WR on the squad.

      i always expect stupid from hoge, but this was even hogeier than usual.

      • Richard Colton

        Reilly Cooper not legit enough for you?

        • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

          No

          • Richard Colton

            I don’t think you appeciate how dynamic our #3 & #4 receivers are. Cooper and Avant could easily be the starters on a number of professional football teams. Off the top of my head: the Philly Soul, Iowa Barnstormers, Las Vegas Outlaws, Miami Sharks.

          • poetx99

            you got me there. lingerie league, too. and, fwiw, i don’t hold it against cooper. he’s stepping up and doing the best he can after we lost our true #2 and potential #2/#3 in maclin and benn.

            and he’s played better over the last 2 weeks. hopefully that can continue. and also, hope djohnson can get some snaps and a chance to make people whiff in space. love avant’s route running, hustle, blocking, etc. but we need to switch it up some to get a more dynamic presence on the field from time to time.

          • #7

            Ouch

  • BQNinja

    Yeah, the 1-5 Vikings really played to AP’s strengths by having him run it 13 times last week and 10 times the week before…

    • nicksaenz1

      That crap cost me a fantasy matchup.

  • 1972

    I didn’t even read the article once I saw who it was about.
    Zero credibility, sucked as a rb and sucks worse as an analyst.
    He watches the tape? Who gives a damn?!!!!
    And since were on analyst, Jaws has been flip flopping like a fish out of water lately too.
    He loves to talk about precision passing. Hey Jaws, how precise were those picks you through in the superbowl!!!! F.O.H like he was some great Qb. I cant stand him and Dilfer preaching like they were great qb’s

  • poetx99

    he’s mad because he was a fullback. the eagles’ offense is shitting on his legacy of averageness. nobody outside of his family ever bought a hoge jersey.

    i’m impressed that his eagle-hate has spanned regimes, though. that’s impressive.

    • 1972

      Shitting on his legacy of averageness. LMAO!!!! thank you. That was my laugh for today

    • Johnny Domino

      Say what you will, but he has been successful enough of late to afford a much better hairpiece.

  • Josh Jordan

    Hoge is a low life Hack!!

  • Weapon Y

    ESPN is like a bunch of sharks. As soon as they catch even a whiff of blood in the water, they’ll pounce on the Eagles. It’s been this way for over a decade. There’s just something about ESPN that really hates Philadelphia. Let’s put this way: If Chip Kelly was the head coach of the New England Patriots, I doubt you’d hear them talking about him the same way.

  • 1972

    Im disappointed with De camara and Caplan . They didn’t even challenge what this idiot was saying. They should have asked him why theyre top ranked in yards and rushing. Or why his lame ass position is obsolete in todays Nfl

    • GEAGLE

      The disappointment was them inviting him on their show…how does ANYONE in THIS city give this dope a platform and publicity?

  • SeaDucks

    I’m dumbfounded. Is it possible to be any more in contradiction of the facts? That’s like Saying Steve Jobs lacked any creativity or sound business judgement. Apple is just a generic run of the mill “me too” company. Just like Chip Kelly and the Eagles are Vanilla.

  • Dutch

    Despite the expectations of the Eagles offense, they’re still playing short handed without Maclin opposite DJax. It’s impossible to compare our best athletes against the opponents best because our best isn’t on the field together.

    However, this is an argument that can be resolved if Kelly puts Damaris Johnson on the field for more than fielding punts and kickoffs.

    • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

      I keep wondering why the don’t use johnson more. I suspect it’s the thought of losing something in blocking and therefore the run game.

      • Dominik

        Johnson isn’t showing anything in the return game. I hope Roseman and Gamble look for a replacement next year.

        Why do you want a guy in your regular offense who doesn’t even get Special Teams done?

        • Richard Colton

          Johnson is one of guys I thought would surprise or take a step forward. He’s given us nothing all year. Add him to the list with Casey and Brown.

      • dollamakeuholla

        That’s exactly it! the way they call plays it can be a run or pass on any play so you can’t put him in because you don’t know when you will need blocking…. and Johnson aint blocking

  • Gary

    Should’ve seen this coming: The offense has a game where they don’t put up points and the talking dickheads spew their “See? College boy’s offense is garbage” bullshit.

    I think it’s pretty simple: These guys like Simms and Hoge have been around the NFL a long time so when they see something different (not that Chip’s offense is radically different; it’s set up to keep the defense off-balance and get playmakers the ball with room to work, like any good offense), it’s automatically bad. It doesn’t matter what the statistics say about how effective the offense is, it just isn’t good or it’s too “vanilla” because they don’t like the way it looks (by the way, I’ll take a top 10 offense that’s completely plain all day long). It’s pathetic “analysis.”

  • Justin

    God, Chip is just an awful coach. Can you believe he hasn’t even won a playoff game yet, let alone a Super Bowl? Worst coach EVER.

  • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

    O_o

  • Will

    Hoge the Old Pittsburgh RB? I think he may have had 1 to many concussions.

  • Adam

    I was joking about the Florio angle last time, but c’mon Sheil.

  • knighn

    First Simms and now Hoge. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen two football analysts be more imaginative about their stupidity.

  • Byter

    It tells you all you need to know that he picked a team that has no QB, a great RB, whose only offense is to hand the ball off to that great RB, and is 1-5, as his shining example of an NFL caliber running game and offense. Next, he will be telling us how great Washington’s defense is. I think those large knots in his ties are stopping blood flow to his head.

  • Engwrite

    I like it when anyone in the national media has a negative comment about the team or its players. I much prefer it to their fawning over them.

  • Loke1988

    I used to really despise Hoge’s point of view. When did he start making sense?

  • Block215

    As a fan of this blog and you two guys, why even waste our time with nonsense like these four letter network losers who have hated from the door. Dont even post bs like that.

  • RaiderDebo

    This is really disappointing. I’ve always liked Hoge. His hatred for Tebow is hilarious! But this is the goofiest article I’ve ever read.

  • #7

    That’s ESPN for you. Hype you up to tear you down

  • GEAGLE

    Why give this idiot publicity? He is like the “Dutch” of ESPN

    • Richard Colton

      how do you know he isn’t Dutch?

  • Token

    Two QB prospects coming up on ESPN right now. Oregon vs UCLA.

    • damrvrhunter

      Thanks Token! Espn jumped the shark 5 years ago, only tune in for game telecast. Haven’t watched sportscenter in 3 years.

    • Token

      .

    • cliff henny

      really liked hundley coming into this yr, but this is 4th game of his i’ve watched, cant say i’m seeing hype. issue could be the 4 or 5 freshman he’s playing with. physicals are certainly there. mariota made 1 nice throw, other than that, it’s been pretty easy stuff. barr is a beast, but going top 5, cant see packaging enough picks to get there. huff could be a player too. forget who posted it, walterfootball had him in 3rd going to eagles. i’d take him in slot

      • Token

        Hundley should not come out. Hes got a ways to go. Really struggles withpressure or the appearance of pressure. Mariota didnt really need to do anything this game. They just ran it well. He made mostly good reads. Couple off throws. He needs some work on mechanics i think.

        Boyd is a bum. And i heard he said something about pressure getting to him? No thanks.

      • SeaDucks

        I was also paying close attention to both QB’s and (trying my best not to be biased), I believe Mariota is the smarter QB. He’s off on a pass here and there but will not be forced into bad throws, he’s got surprising speed for being so tall, but yet runs it only if he has to. Hundley made too many desperation throws and seemed like he was more easily unnerved. Likely doesn’t matter thought, the chances of us getting either aren’t so good. Is there an Over/under on that?

  • SoCalEaglesFan

    It’s not easy to take our lumps. Most fans realize the Eagles aren’t a very good team at the moment and that was the realistic expectation for 2013. Being a rebuilding team means some national media types will take their shots from time to time. In a couple of seasons it won’t matter either way. Either Kelly does turn the franchise around and wins (wins are the only way to silence critics) or he doesn’t finish his five year contract and we start this whole thing over again… but hopefully with a little better roster.

    Kelly’s system has done better than I expected. I expected 6 to 7 wins this year at most and they are on track to hit that number if not more.

    I’m not going to care too much about national pundits taking pot shots at the team while we’re rebuilding. If Hoge or others don’t realize we’re in rebuild mode, that says more about him than Kelly.

  • Media Mike

    Hey Merril, remember (oops, maybe you can’t due to concussions) that time you couldn’t shoot a single show outside leading into the Superbowl in 2005 because every Eagle fan in Jacksonville live-trolled your shows?
    Merril Hoge is just about the dumbest piece of Pittsburgh trash to ever walk the planet. And that’s saying a lot because all of Pittsburgh (and their fans) are trash.
    F U Hoge.

  • ztom6

    The Eagles run a zone running attack. Yes I agree that’s “vanilla”, but it happens to be a proven successful flavor in the NFL even it there’s nothing fancy about it. And I agree the Eagles need to bust it up the middle more and grind out some bread and butter yards. But is that on the Eagles playcalling or is that on McCoy trying to be too cute at times?

    • Jerry Pomroy

      I think that’s more on McCoy, considering Kelly applauded Shady for doing a good job of “running downhill” today. Which basically means squaring up & attacking the LOS. It’s also been documented that Chip has talked to McCoy about his running & doing less “dancing” in the backfield.

      I personally think Shady is even more deadly when he attacks the LOS, then uses his athletic ability to make guys miss once he’s reached the 2nd level of the defense. When he consistently tries to bounce outside, it allows the defenders to key on trying to bust straight through the line or run wide which takes away from his strength. That being juking guys outta there cleats that try to tackle him straight on.

  • ftotheyu

    I can’t believe Merill Hoge has a job with a national network. I don’t care necessarily that he’s always anti-Eagles (I guess everyone has a bias), but the guy is a pea brained idiot. Give me a year to read up on the league and develop my network, and pay me half of what he gets to appear on ESPN, and I promise you I’ll represent their shows in an intelligent manner.