The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Redskins

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland RaidersAfter the Eagles’ 15-7 loss to the Giants in Week 8, Chip Kelly’s message to his team carried a tone of optimism.

The offense had managed just three points in two weeks. Outsiders were taking jabs at Johnny College Coach left and right. And the quarterback situation appeared to be a complete mess.

But Kelly wasn’t about to make any drastic changes. The focus would be on better execution, not the scheme.

“I think we stuck to what we like to do,” said wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

“One thing I can say about Chip is he’s not really into switching up too many things. He feels very confident and comfortable with the system and what we’re able to do out there. At times, teams do a good job of challenging us, but just sticking with it and getting the same opportunities and just knowing maybe one time they might guard us or they might be on our play, but as long as we’re able to keep grinding on it and stick with what we know to do, eventually it’s gonna open up.”

And it did. The Eagles put up 76 points in their next two games. They now find themselves in a first-place tie with the Cowboys, and the offense appears to be on a roll.

Through 10 games, the Eagles are the top rushing team in the NFL. And the offense has piled up 61 plays of 20+ yards. That’s tops in the league and 16 more than any other offense.

“We all have faith in Chip and this offense without a doubt,” said guard Evan Mathis. “And going through that lull, everybody just had to look within, look at the individual reasons on the plays why they were breaking down and not think that it’s just a concept problem because it wasn’t.”

Added rookie Lane Johnson: “After the Dallas game, we didn’t really have a good offensive game. We stuck to the plan. You don’t change what you do. You just have to start executing better and throw a few wrinkles in there.”

The wrinkles will be tested this weekend as the Eagles face the Redskins for the second time. In Week 1, there were offensive fireworks during a 26-point first half. Since that game, Kelly has been tweaking and adjusting on a weekly basis, but the core scheme on offense has stayed the same in many respects.

The Eagles still want to be a run-first team. When opponents try to take that away and play man coverage with a single high safety, the goal is to make them pay with big plays over the top. When teams play zone, the offense runs a series of packaged plays to put key defenders in situations of conflict.

There are other pieces too: tempo, unbalanced lines, 2-TE sets, moving players around to create favorable matchups and so on.

Asked how different the scheme is now compared to what the Redskins saw in Week 1, Kelly said: “Not much from a scheme conceptual standpoint. We’re going to add a formation here or tweak here. But usually during the week we’re tweaking things. We’re not putting in brand new packages and saying, ‘Hey, we gotta do this against this team.’ You just don’t have enough time during the week to rep all that stuff.”

Redskins linebacker London Fletcher says he sees a lot of similarities between what the Eagles did in Week 1 and what he’s seen on film in recent weeks.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a whole lot different,” he said. “Obviously they’re still running their zone read stuff with [LeSean] McCoy and their offensive line and doing all the different things that they do in the run game. I think some of the vertical passing game they’ve been able to get going, whether it’s Jackson or whether it’s Riley Cooper. That’s something that they’ve been able to get going now as opposed to in the first game. They’ve been able to get some more of the down-the-field throws. But as far as the concepts and the offense, a lot of it’s still the same, especially in the run game.”

That jives with Kelly’s overall philosophy. A practice obsessive, he believes in doing the same things over and over again during the week so that they’re second nature on Sundays. There may come a point where the offense needs significant changes instead of minor tweaks. And Kelly will likely decide on bigger adjustments when he has an offseason to reflect. But in the meantime, he’ll continue to harp on execution as the Eagles look to make a playoff push in the final six games.

“There’s two different approaches,” said center Jason Kelce. “You can have the one approach where you just throw a bunch of stuff at the guys and try and get in perfect situations with plays and whatnot against particular defenses, whereas I think Chip has a bunch of plays that work well off of each other and they all work against pretty much every team you’re gonna see defensively.

“The only thing that changes from week to week with us is a lot of the formation-stuff. We try to give defenses a different look. We really try to major in what we major in and force defenses to adjust accordingly.”


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  • theycallmerob

    “We really try to major in what we major in and force defenses to adjust accordingly.”

    Yea, screw that liberal arts approach to coaching. I’m glad our lineman are getting a Master’s in offensive engineering, and DJax and McCoy are already working on their Ph.D’s in defensive deconstruction.

  • anon

    haha Nate Allen! Earl Thomas who?

  • BlindChow

    Kelce: “You can have the one approach where you just throw a bunch of stuff at the guys and try and get in perfect situations with plays and whatnot against particular defenses…”

    Does anyone think he’s talking about Andy Reid here?

    • Adam

      Absolutely. First thing I thought when I read that. Maybe MM.

  • Explorer51

    Sheil, I think they seek Professor Azzinaro’s counsel…

  • nicksaenz1

    If Shady can get another 150+ yard game (preferably 200) he can likely maintain the rushing lead throughout the bye week…. Foles is going to have to get the ball out quick in this game with Barbre starting. Not a knock on Barbre, he played very well in GB, but I can see a lot pressure coming his way being the newbie on the line. Can’t afford for Foles to be getting crushed by Kerrigan/Orakpo….. I don’t discount this game as a gimme, at all, but I think it’s one we should win, even with the home field disadvantage. Keep Foles upright, make some lanes for Shady, and keep stopping the run and we’re tied for division lead, barring another Dallas meltdown.

    • theycallmerob

      Barbre did very well on Matthews. I doubt Kerrigan or Orakpo have played to that level yet this year, even if he was 1-handed. It’s not as if Peters was lights out on that side when he was starting, I honestly can’t say I saw much of a dropoff at all.

      • nicksaenz1

        Like I said, he looked good at GB. I thought he played very well. I’m just of the mindset that, if I’m a DC and notice there’s a backup on the line, I’m going to try to exploit that and see if I can confuse him/overload him, especially since it’s the QBs blindside.

        • Brian

          Then Chip takes advantage of the lineman’s over aggressiveness/lack of discipline.

          • Jerry Pomroy

            Yup. If they’re dumb enough to keep shooting wide up field, we’ll have a field day with inside zone runs to that side & I’m sure you’ll see Celek chipping the LB & releasing looking for the hot read.

    • Adam

      Did my own little All-22 on the first snap for Barbre that game. Not sure how well it’s going to look as I did it in paint.

      It really stood out to me and I’m surprised no one broke it down this week.

      This was the TD to DJax, and it was Barbre’s first snap of the game so they came right at him. He had the DE coming at him with a slight delayed blitz from the safety. He initially blocks the DE and see’s the DB coming.

      • Adam

        He blocks the DE then drops off his block perfectly times it to pick up the DB blitz, which gives Foles time to climb the pocket and hit Jackson for the TD.

        • Brandon Boykin, OLB

          Good job Sheil, er, Adam.

          • Adam

            If only I were as handsome.

  • Johnny_P

    This game has all the trappings of a statement division win by the Eagles at home, thereby shedding the “cant win at home” label and building the notoriety of Nick Foles. Foles needs to prove that he can pull out wins in November/December (in the elements) against divisional foes. Test #1 comes Sunday.

    • anon

      No. That was the Dallas game. We are a better team in all phases than the skins; this is a should win for us and a statement game for them.

  • jabostick

    I think Allen deserves extra props. Not only has he improved significantly but he’s done so in the face of Philly Fan criticism and pretty much being our poster boy when the D played poorly.

    I imagine that takes some big time focus and perseverence

    • Richard Colton

      Dude, I always knew he’d get it turned around, lied everyone here.

      • Adam

        I’ve actually never given up on him. I just couldn’t ignore that rookie season before he got hurt, he showed some flashes of being a really good player. Caught a ton of flak earlier in the year for saying a change of scheme and a coach with half a clue might is just what he needed.

        Not saying he’s made up for his miserable years here or that he’s lived up to the 2nd round bill, but I think he might turn out alright.

    • nicksaenz1

      I’d have disconnected my internet if I were in those shoes. Make sure I couldn’t hear/read what people were saying.

  • Adam

    I think there will be riots in the streets of Philly if Nate Allen gets resigned this off-season. I hope he does.

    • Jerry Pomroy

      I wouldn’t be opposed to re-signing him at the right price. But I would still look to add another young safety to develop and increase the talent pool at the position or possibly challenge to start.

      Based on the 3-4 concepts, I think they’ll be looking to add top-tier talent at WOLB & CB. If they can draft studs at just these two positions, the D is well on its way to making a huge leap fwd.

  • Adam

    People laughed at me when I said Azzinaro was Chip’s consigliere, but I still think it’s a very accurate description.

    If things don’t work out with Billy, I wouldn’t be shocked in the least if Azz was promoted to DC. I think Chip wanted to get him some NFL experience before he did anything like that.

    • bentheimmigrant

      Better still would be Billy moving on to a HC job after next season…

    • Mr. Wu

      well lets hope it wont be Jeff Stoutland

      • Wilbert31


  • This isn’t a game about what happens offensively. They should easily put up 30+ on the Skins, Shady should have a big day. Offensively things should be fine.

    Defensively is where the story is going to be told and where the game will be won or lost. Rg3 is looking more like his normal self and Morris and Garcon are forces to be reckoned with. That bend don’t break defense will likely be tested heavily Sunday.

    • EaglePete

      absolutely. That beind said, I think were all waiting for a good offensive game at the Linc since SD.

    • OregonDucker

      I think our D might generate some turnovers. They’re feeling good about their gap responsibilities and I think will try some “extra” things.

    • theycallmerob

      It’d be great if Garcon was the only receiving threat, but the TE (j reed) has come on strong. he worries me the most on that O

    • Richard Colton

      how will Shady have a good day if Foles is the QB? You predicting a Willis Reed entrance for Vick?

      • Still a willfully ignorant jack@ss I see. At least you’re consistent.

        • Richard Colton

          Awww. Come on. Admit when you’re wrong. or log in as one of your other personalities and downvote me.

  • Justin

    I think the most impressive thing about the way this team is playing right now is how young so many of our guys are. Look at all these rookies and second year guys stepping up.

  • Brandon

    Hate to nitpick, but why do people keep saying Carmichael played well? He gave up 100+ yds to Jarrett Boykin. Backup or not letting up 100+ receiving yds (to Boykin who is also a backup) is not “playing well” where I’m from. I just hope Fletch can come back soon, I see Carmichael getting abused more and more the longer he has to play.

    • theycallmerob

      They sold out to stop the run; yards are overrated. Plus, 36 came on the non-catch. And a starting safety was out. I’d imagine if fletch doesn’t play this week, he’s back after the bye anyway

    • Justin

      How many touchdowns did he give up?

    • Adam

      I’d check those stats. He gave up 5 completions for 59 yards.

      • Brandon

        Where you getting that from?

        • Adam

          Pro Football Focus

          • Brandon

            Ah got ya. I don’t have a subscription to them.

          • UKEagle99

            What do you have a subscription to? I’d drop it it. Roc played OK but it wasn’t Rogers pulling the trigger. Give him a decent chance before we throw him under the bus. One game a career does not make…apparantly.