All-22: How Foles And the Offense Rebounded

all22_400In the days leading up to Sunday’s game against the Raiders, Chip Kelly was asked what his message would be to Nick Foles to get him to rebound from the clunker against the Cowboys.

“Sometimes, as I told Nick, grip it and rip it, let’s go,” Kelly said. “He’s thrown a lot of really good passes since I’ve been around him, and he’s been really good with the football.

“The big thing for him is let’s just get him back in the flow. Let’s get in a rhythm. That’s the biggest thing. Can you get in a rhythm, can you get your feet set, can you throw the ball?”




Answers to those questions came against the Raiders: yes, yes and yes.

After losses to the Cowboys and Giants and a grand total of three points by the offense, Kelly emphasized that there would be no grand scheme changes. The concepts would stay the same, but the execution had to get better.

And it did. To the tune of 49 points in three quarters. So what worked? And why was there such a difference from the previous two weeks? Here's what we saw from the tape.

***

The two things that set Foles' performance apart from past ones were his ability to buy time with his feet and his willingness to throw the ball downfield.

Perhaps his biggest throw of the game came on 3rd-and-13 during the Eagles' opening drive. The Raiders were in Tampa-2, meaning two deep safeties to either side and a linebacker dropping to handle the middle of the field. Underneath, Oakland had four zone defenders.

The target on this play was Jeff Maehl, who ran a deep dig route from the left side of the formation.

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Foles did a great job all game long of moving defenders with his eyes and with his pump fakes. Here, he faked to LeSean McCoy underneath. That caused the linebacker to take one step forward. With Charles Woodson playing deep, that’s all the room Foles needed

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Foles had check-down options on this play. He could have easily taken a 7-yard completion, flipped field position and tried again later. But he didn’t. He faked, reset his feet and fired on-target.

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There were three defenders nearby when Maehl went up for the ball. But because the throw was accurate, the result was a 19-yard completion that extended the Eagles' drive.

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"There were some plays where he did a good job of looking guys off or pump-faking," said offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. That's part of what we do. But the quarterbacks develop a strategy on each play and each situation to really use that to their advantage."

***

The Eagles went with more '12' personnel (1-RB, 2-TE) than usual in this game. They also had success motioning McCoy out wide and going with an empty set. Still on that first drive, they faced a 3rd-and-3 in the red zone. Oakland was in man coverage, and the linebacker shifted to pick up McCoy.

In this first shot, the Eagles already have an advantage. The Raiders will be covering Brent Celek and McCoy with linebackers.

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The Raiders had seven in coverage against five receivers. They had one free safety and another help defender. Foles first looked to McCoy in the flat. The help defender, a linebacker (yellow arrow below) was drawn to McCoy. That left the middle of the field wide open for Ertz as Brandian Ross tried to fight through traffic.

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"It was man coverage and I ran a sit-over-the-ball," Ertz said. "My guy got caught up in Brent’s route so I was wide open and I just tried to turn upfield right when I caught it."

Kevin Burnett and Ross actually ran right into each other (apologies if you're having traumatic flashbacks to the 2012 Eagles). That gave Foles a couple good options. He could have hit Celek on the corner route, although Woodson was back there to help, or he could have gone with the sure thing to Ertz.

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He went with option No. 2. Ertz picked up a first down, and Celek got in the end zone on the very next play.

***

One play we saw in the preseason was the new-school triple option. Actually, it’s more like a quadruple option.

The play started here with double-stacks to both sides. But the Eagles were again in 12 personnel. They’ve got tight ends in front of receivers.

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Foles had four options: throw the screen to Riley Cooper, throw the screen to DeSean Jackson, hand it off or keep it himself. He combined options one and four.

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The defensive end crashed, so Foles kept the ball. That was his first read. But there was another one on this play. Foles kept an eye on the cornerback, Tracy Porter. If he committed to stopping the run, Foles had the option to swing a pass outside to Cooper. If Porter stayed home, Foles would continue running.

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Porter inched up, and Foles slung it to Cooper, who picked up 18 yards.

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I asked Ertz what it was like to block on this play. One second, you’re trying to keep the DB away from Foles in the middle of the field. The next second, you’re trying to block for Cooper, who is near the sideline.

"It was man coverage so initially I just ran him off," Ertz said. "Then I knew there was two guys over there so he wasn’t really gonna throw it right away. And then I saw Nick kind of scrambling and then my guy kind of see the throw. He tried to exert himself. So I just pushed into him and try to finish the block.

"I just sensed the defender. It’s a tough block, but the coaches have done a great job explaining that to us, and I just executed it."

The officials and announcers were confused on the play, wondering if Foles had crossed the line of scrimmage. But that’s irrelevant since it was a backwards pass.

Obviously, there’s a sense of risk here. An off-target throw backwards is a fumble. But Foles connected with Cooper for what shows up in the box score as an 18-yard run.

***

Let's take a break from Foles to credit the guys up front. The offensive line played one of its best games of the season - specifically in pass protection. But there was one run play that probably made O-Line coach Jeff Stoutland salivate when he watched the film.

It’s a toss to Bryce Brown that picked up 8 yards, but there was a lot going on that made it stand out.

Here’s the look at the line of scrimmage. The Eagles leave the nose tackle unblocked. Todd Herremans and Jason Kelce are going to pull. Celek and Lane Johnson are going to block down.

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But my favorite part of the play was Jason Peters’ blocking assignment. He’s in charge of the deep safety, Woodson, on the other side of the field.

I’ll let the pictures tell the story here.

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Granted, Woodson is 37. But Peters is 328 pounds, coming off a pair of Achilles' injuries. Pretty good movement here for the big fella.

"I got the safety," Peters said. "It’s a toss play to the opposite side and I’m just trying to cut him off from making a play because if Shady [Brown] hit it up, he’ll be the only guy left. So I was just trying to get a block on him."

Peters tossed Woodson to the ground by the head. Woodson wanted a flag. Peters gave him the death-stare.

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There were other things going on here as well. Herremans crushed the defensive back, and Kelce manhandled Burnett, driving him downfield and completely out of the play.

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Kelly’s offense sometimes gets labeled finesse, but when the linemen are at their best, it can be a physical brand of football.

***

And we'll close with more on Foles. Protection is not always going to be perfect. On this second-half play, he bought time and did a great job keeping his eyes downfield.

Herremans got beat off the snap, but Foles climbed the pocket and got out of harm's way.

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He had a simple check-down available to Brown. But Foles continued to buy time, rolled to his right and saw Jackson wide open.

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On the move, he delivered a strike while getting hit.

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That’s a big-time throw. And the result was a 20-yard gain. The Eagles lead the NFL with 44 pass plays of 20+ yards on the season.

***

Overall, there were no grand scheme changes. The Eagles ran what they've been running, but had success this time around.

"We believe in our scheme," Shurmur said. "And we did not execute our scheme well [in previous weeks]. And we as coaches didn't give our players good enough stuff to work with, and we didn't play well in those two games.

"This past week, we ran the same scheme, we executed better, and the results were much better."

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  • Broadcasting Wisdom

    C’mon St. Nick, get us to the playoffs this year, that’s all I want for Christmas.

  • GEAGLE

    I think the improvements came down to a few things:
    1) FOles got back to being his accurate self
    ….
    2) Everyone on offense did their job and won individual battles which is what allowed FOles to show us what he had in him..
    ….
    3) Chip altered his offense to fit FOles.it wasn’t all read option, and we started to see different things in the run game, along with the obvious 12 personel..
    ..
    4) Tempo Tempo Tempo..FOles ran it to perfection and it took over the game. Not only were guys starting to tire, but guys weren’t sure how to line up at times and that’s what led to the breakdowns from the defense..which is why it’s a JOKE that people have the Gaul to downplay what the kid did saying that the raiders played bad Defense,,when in reality that was a good defense that we opened the gates of hell on and turned into a bad defense…if Nick can continue to run tempo like that, Chip will love him..

    The 3rd down throw to Maehl, the Bomb he draped into Deseans arms, the anticipation on the TD throws to Cooper and Shady allowing them to catch it in stride. WRs NEVER had to slow down to catch his balls, most of the time they had to accelerate to make the catch, and it doesn’t get any better than that…it was like Roy Halladay pitching a perfect game

    • Vik

      Sorry, somewhat new here. Whats the meaning of FOles instead of Foles?

      • GEAGLE

        Autocorrect mistake

        • Pennguino

          It’s because you can’t spell FOles without the FO (Front Office) :))))

    • All Things Bad@ss

      “it’s a JOKE that people have the Gaul to downplay what the kid did saying that the raiders played bad Defense,,when in reality that was a good defense that we opened the gates of hell on and turned into a bad defense”

      Bingo. I see you got that Mayock “kid” thing workin’ too. Nice.

  • DirtyWaters

    This week is huge. Being able to go into Green Bay and beating a “good” team will do a lot for this team’s confidence. Hope they can string some wins together and make a run.

    • HowboutdemIggles

      I’m just waiting to hear how (if they win) that it still doesn’t count, because they didn’t play against Rodgers.

      • anon

        Counts less from an evaluation perspective but W is a W.

      • evanphilly

        Then the last 5 KC wins shouldn’t count because they have faced 3 second stringers, a third stringer and a fourth stringer.

        • HowboutdemIggles

          I’m just talking from a cynic standpoint. I agree a win is a win, but I’m done with guys saying he can’t play in the league, dude can ball.

  • cliff henny

    in a weird way, the Dallas NYG games might end up a blessing. comparing to defense, which struggled but worked/listened to the coaches, offense had such great early success, probably tough to keep them focused on small details. not that kelly didnt want to see 450 yds per game, but he probably knew the learning curve bounce back was going to happen. offense got a punch in the reality gut, went back to basics. anyone in sales sees this with almost every new hire.

  • Comprof

    This is why Sheil is the best and national commentators are unlistenable.

    • DirtyWaters

      The only bad thing about this site is cringing while reading “What They’re Saying”. Sheil, please don’t leave us and become one of “them”.

      • JofreyRice

        I hate to say it, but if there is any sense of justice in the world, Sheil will go national. Guy is ridiculously good.

        • G_WallyHunter

          Holy crap, all three of you could not have said it any better.
          This is way too good, Philly mag should bust their asses to keep these guys around.

          • BirdMan4407

            What are yall talking about!!!! Yhis is Shel site without him there is no birds24/7

    • https://www.skinnypost.com/ GayleSaunders

      Sheil puts in the extra effort. So appreciated. Such a #gamechanger for weekly Eagles content.

  • BlindChow

    I like that no matter the QB the Eagles are still getting the big plays. That’s good to see.

  • Phyxius

    I appreciate your work Sheil, it does not go unnoticed.

  • Dustan M. Howell

    An All-22 breakdown of how Nick Foles ( and the Eagles’ offense ) put up 49 points without mentioning a single TD throw ???

    Strange.

  • Scott J

    Keep gripping it and ripping it Nick!

  • mtn_green

    I created an account a month ago just to say my appreciation. Months later still in awe of how good the content on this site is.

  • jon h

    unbelieveable insight and article. Should be noted that the refs actually got the play wrong initially on the lateral as well.

  • Pennguino

    Two plays that I liked were in the first half. He tried to go with a short bubble screen but it was well covered. Instead he pulled it down and ran for a first down on the first one. On the second one he tried to do something and took a sack. But there was a holding call.

    That is just smart football not trying to force it.

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

    Great job as usual Shiel. ALL-22 always the highlight of the week!

    • Joe from Easton

      I’d say Foles’ seven TD’s was the highlight of the week this week, lol. I do love these All-22’s though. I can never wait until they’re out.

  • BleedGreenJames

    Great work again by Sheil. I was pretty harsh coming off the win that I didn’t believe it was that impressive (what with DBs falling down left and right) but I have come around and will admit I was pretty foolish in my initial assessment of Foles’ day. I still have to say though, I’m not convinced the franchise QB is on this roster yet. There was much more riding on the Dallas outing and that game still makes my stomach turn (especially the awful play where he suffered the concussion).

    Foles now has a chance to go on an absolute tear, beginning with a shell shocked Packers squad that just lost the best player in the game. This is his chance. The defense is vastly improved, and Dallas is no world beater.

  • Will
  • nicksaenz1

    “Peters tossed Woodson to the ground by the head. Woodson wanted a flag. Peters gave him the death-stare.” That’s beautiful.

  • theycallmerob

    Enjoyed this quote from Tommy’s game review:

    “Had Shady go in motion out wide on several plays. Mostly he was a decoy, but did end up catching a TD on that play eventually. When players focused on him, Foles went elsewhere. The one time the defense ignored him, Foles and Shady made them pay.”

    saw this in the all-22, too. great to see one of Chip’s bedrock principles working to perfection- making defenses account for all players at all times

  • Johnny_P

    It’s apparent to me that Foles is not “Mr. Checkdown” he actually tries to make the big play. This speaks volumes to the success of a quarterback in the NFL. You saw him do the same exact thing at Arizona.

    • Wilbert31

      Have you met Dutch?

      • Johnny_P

        No, who is he? Like some elusive Heizenberg type character?

        • Wilbert31

          LOL. Vicious hater of Foles. States over and over again that Foles can’t throw more than 10 yards downfield. Proved it over and over again in college and last year. It’s obvious. If he comes around, you’ll know it. He’s been very absent lately though…

          • Johnny_P

            I’ve seen that name Dutch thrown around, but haven’t really paid attention. I once doubted Foles’ arm too, but now I’m a believer. The big test is for Foles is to play a game in a December divisional game in Metlife or the Linc and see how he performs with less than ideal conditions (higher winds, colder temps, potentially snow). Let me take this one step further: I think the Eagles organization holds off on drafting a QB next year if and only if Nick Foles leads the Eagles into January and notches a wildcard win.

      • Joe from Easton

        Dutch has not been around lately. Sad really.

      • #7

        Dutch will be back.

        • Joe from Easton

          Yea, after an average or worse performance by Foles talking about, “I told you all he’s too inconsistent. Look at this; 7 TD’s last week and only 2 this week? IDC if we won, we wouldn’t have it Raaaaaahgas was playing.”

  • southy

    2 things:

    1) Those comments from folks that Kelce is an undersized Mudd guy that isn’t strong enough. What was that again?

    2) I’m surprised they didn’t show the 7th TD pass to Coop. That subtle pump fake to create space in the corner was brilliant.

    • Joe from Easton

      Point #2) – They broke that down on philadelphia eagles dot com. It was awesome to see in still frames. Cooper knew he was open as soon as Foles pumped. The DB literally stopped and did a 90º turn towards the hashmarks and Cooper just threw his hand up and ran for the corner.

  • https://www.skinnypost.com/ GayleSaunders

    So refreshing to see our players execute and “doing their job” once players buy into what they’re doing it opens up the offense with all the extra options to each play. Glad to see Ertz get involved and evolve as a pro. Skys the limit with him.

  • #7

    Nice job Shiel. The National folks will be in touch soon….

  • morgan c

    Question about Foles crossing line of scrimmage:

    I know it was irrelevant because it was a backward pass, but I thought the rule was the QB’s entire body must cross the line of scrimmage for a forward pass to be illegal? Doesn’t anyone remember the Giants game a few years back where AR challenged a Manning pass? I thought the pass was confirmed as legal because, while the ball passed the LoS, Manning’s entire body had not?

    Any clarification here?

    • Sean

      The entire body has to be past the line of scrimmage when the ball is released for it to be ruled illegal.

      If I recall correctly, Manning’s HEEL was behind the LoS on that play resulting in a legal forward pass.

    • Joe from Easton

      You’re right. I was losing it in my living room listening to those inept announcers. They weren’t right at any point during their rambling, incohesive assessment of that play. In fact, I couldn’t help but think that, “anyone in the TV audience is now dumber” when they finally moved on to the next play.

  • poetx99

    great breakdown as usual, sheil. and really nice work on the toss to b brown showing the OL getting up on db’s on the front and backside of the play. fantastic.