All-22: Blocking At the Second Level

kelce2b_400Going into last week’s game, the Raiders were the only team in the NFL that hadn’t allowed a run of 20 yards or more.

Meanwhile, Bryce Brown’s longest run of the season had only been for 9 yards through the first eight games. But late in the first quarter, Brown found a huge lane up the middle, got outside and picked up 32 yards for the Eagles’ longest run play of the day.

It’s one of the Eagles’ most popular plays: an inside zone read combined with a bubble screen to the perimeter (to be clear, I don’t know if Foles actually had the option to run here, but you get the idea).

The Raiders have three defensive backs on the Eagles’ three receivers. That sets up six in the box. If Nick Foles can “block” the edge defender, it’s hat-on-hat blocking.



The edge defender, Kevin Burnett, stays at home. The Eagles  – Jason Peters, Evan Mathis and Jason Kelce, specifically – do a great job, and Brown has a huge hole off the bat.


There are certainly times when the unblocked defender will just crash in on the running back, but that doesn’t happen here. He pays attention to Foles.

“Bryce has got a two-way go,” Kelce said. “He can either go to the right or to the left on that zone play. I’m just trying to stay in a relationship with Bryce so that [he’s behind me] when I fit the block. Because if Bryce is to my left, and I try to fit the block, the guy’s gonna slip me to the inside. And if I’m behind it, he’s gonna slip me front-side.”


Kelce did not have to block a defensive lineman here. He went straight to the linebacker. In the above frame, it looks like the defender is going to be able to get off the block and get to Brown.

But Kelce does a great job of maintaining his block. The key is squaring up and staying between the defender and Brown.


The Eagles constantly aim to get running backs set up in one-on-one matchups against safeties. That’s what happens here. Brown breaks Charles Woodson’s tackle and gets outside.

“We were in really good sync so that when I took the guy on, I was able to square him up,” Kelce said. “And then when he tried to go this way, then Bryce just fits off of that.”

On the very next play, Kelce was again tasked with getting to the linebacker on an inside zone run. But this time, he wasn’t able to square him up.


“There were a couple times in the game where I went too far,” Kelce said. “And then they’re able to get behind me.”

“If you remember the one play 94 made down in the red zone, I was too far in front so that when I come up on him, he slips me back side.”


Here, it looks like the run has a chance to pick up big yardage. Peters is going to switch off to the linebacker. And Mathis is doing a good job on the defensive tackle. But Kelce’s too far out in front of Burnett.



The result was a 4-yard gain that had a chance for much more.

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  • Adam

    Kelce: “I’m just trying to stay in a relationship with Bryce”

    Well Jason, I saw Bryce out at the club the other night with Mathis, even though Mathis is supposed to be seeing Herremans. Oh and did you hear Riley and Cary were walking down South Street the other night?! DeSean told me, he heard from Marcus Vick.


    • Eagles4Life

      Despite the extreme corniness of this joke, I laughed audibly lol.

    • G_WallyHunter

      Mathis is the best guard in the league for 2 years now, he can take anyone he wants to the club

  • DEBO 215

    Love these, keep it up!


    Best block of the day was when peters ran all the way across field to take the safety out of the play..I rewound that play and watched it like 10 times…Mathis is just a stud. He is soo damn money that we don’t even have to spend time talking about it…I wonder if a contender would give up a late first for him…not that I would want to trade Mathis! just curious about what his value would be league wide.

    • poetx99

      that’s a great point about mathis. we just ASSUME he’s going to handle his business and, as you say, it doesn’t even need to be talked about.

      i don’t know that we’d get a 1st for mathis — his skill set is pretty scheme dependent. don’t get me wrong, he’d be good in a power run offense, but in a zone blocking type scheme his athleticism really shines through.

  • GEAGLE would eagles fans feel if they aquired Jonathan Martin? What about incognito?

    • Brandon

      Might take a flyer on Martin as a backup for a low salary. No thanks to Incognito.

    • anon

      Tough. Our environment would do well for Martin. But i’d rather have a team full of incognitos than martin’s. That said maybe Martin just didn’t like MIA and he’d to better in a different environment.

      • GEAGLE

        Yeah i see it the same way as you…I don’t care about Ritchie’s play..I care about him getting Nasty and physical with Cox,Thornton,Logan and the LBs every day in practice…that dude has to add a notch to a teams toughness level…

  • Token

    Oregon vs Stanford about to start on ESPN. Marcus Mariotas toughest test of the year.

    • Token

      Well, sadly it doesnt look like MM is the next RG3. In terms of a rising star I mean. I remember watching RG3 during his last year, you could just see the guy stepping up to the next level. He set himself apart. I think it was a game against Oklahoma? he won in the last seconds.

      Against UCLA, MM didnt look great.

      Tonight, so far at least, the moment looks too big for him. He has cost the team atleast one TD. Probably 2. Its times like this where the mechanical problems can really hurt. His throws are just off.

      Like the kids skill set. But its games like this you gotta see what a guy is made of. Lets see if he can take a deep breath and get back on his game.

      • anon

        Yeah just going to comment there. They’re killing the crappy teams, but as soon as they play a legit team looks really ugly.

        • GEAGLE

          It’s ok, we have a Nick “the Rain maker” Foles!

          • anon

            Haha it’s not the scheme really just seems like Oregon plays soft. Not getting after loose balls, not tackling or breaking tackles, just too much finesse — like they are playing touch ball.

            My other comment was going to be how bad Vikings D looks — especially secondary.

          • GEAGLE

            Yeah never see me drool over Teddy,Marriotta,Manziel,Boyd…they probably have nice futures, but I never viewed them as the rg3/luck prospect that is a can’t miss so you can trade your draft away to go get..
            I honestly wouldn’t trade FOles straight up for any of them…I know what type of pro FOles can be,..I have no clue about any of them..I don’t view any of them as can’t miss

        • Token

          I realize the scheme is heavy run based. But, if they really have a elite QB….then I think they flat out run the ball to often. Theres a lot of situation where MM is put in a 3rd and long when the run is sniffed out. It works better against bad teams that arent as big and physical I guess.