Kelly’s TE Focus Pays Dividends

It didn’t take long to figure out Chip Kelly‘s offensive strategy against Arizona. Have a look at the play-by-play from the Eagles’ opening drive:

1st and 10 at AZ 25 N.Foles pass short left to B.Celek pushed ob at ARZ 22 for 3 yards.
2nd and 7 at AZ 22  N.Foles pass incomplete short left to B.Celek.
3rd and 7 at AZ 22 N.Foles pass short middle to B.Celek to ARZ 6 for 16 yards
1st and 6 at AZ 6 N.Foles pass short right to Z.Ertz for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

See a pattern there?

“Yeah, we thought we would be used a little more in this game in particular because of the way they play their defense,” said rookie tight end Zach Ertz, who had a career day with five catches for 68 yards and two scores. “They put a lot of safeties on us in man-to-man coverage. We think that against any safety we can get open, and fortunately Nick [Foles] made some great throws today.”

Ertz and Brent Celek were targeted a total of 12 times Sunday and combined for nine catches and 97 yards. They accounted for all three of the Eagles’ touchdowns.

USATSI_7592694_168380503_lowres“I don’t know if exploit, but we thought they have got some really good corners, starting with [Patrick] Peterson, so trying to get [the tight ends] matched up on some safeties and some linebackers,” said Chip Kelly. “Just thought we had some plays in there to the tight ends, get them in base personnel and then try to take advantage of that and those guys did.”




That goes back to Kelly's quote from back in April right after he drafted Ertz about the benefit of mutiple tight-end sets.

"They bring little guys in, you run the ball. They bring big guys in, you throw the ball.”

This was the type of offense most envisioned after Kelly drafted Ertz 35th overall and signed James Casey to a handsome free-agent contract. (Casey did not post a catch in this game, but did draw a big penalty in the closing moments to help seal the win.) We are beginning to see the Eagles use more two tight-end sets as Ertz continues to develop. The rookie was on the field for 38 snaps against Arizona, his second highest play total of the season (He played 42 snaps in Tampa).

"He is a great player and is going to continue to get better," said Celek. "Every game you can just see him improve, improve, improve. He is going to be a great player in this league for a long time."

Entering Sunday's game, tight ends were averaging 84 yards per game against the Cardinals, per Football Outsiders. Only Denver (85 yards/gm) had been more generous. It's no surprise that Kelly decided to attack one of the only vulnerabilities in that Cardinals defense, especially since he was equipped to do it from a personnel standpoint. This was a game where Kelly's investment in the tight end position paid dividends.

"I felt like we had good matchups with our tight ends against [Arizona's] linebackers," said Foles. "Their linebackers are very talented, but they're bigger guys. They are very good at stopping the run and they have a big defensive line that really wants to generate pressure. I liked our matchups with our tight ends, and I thought they did a great job today."

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.

  • cliff henny

    So…this is what it’s like when Eagles’ coach does a better job, instead of promising afterwards to do a better job. very refreshing

  • BlockingBack

    How well did our hallowed TE’s block?

  • GEAGLE

    It’s getting easier and easier to predict what this team is going to do…and that’s not a bad thing. Andy was stubborn and at times irrational…Chip is a simple cat, he simply attacks opponents weakness. He looked at the awesome Arizone defense, and he identified a few weak links(that every great defense has), and he designed a gameplan that constantly attacked those weakness..

    Going into the game the exact words I used was:
    “powers is a pigeon waiting to be picked on, and you attack this sweet in the gut kindg hippo defense with your TEs”…surprise surprise that’s exactly what Chip did…it’s easier to predict what a rational mind is going to do…had Andy been coaching yesterday, he woulda stubbornly sent Desean deep all day against a top CB who was much bigger then him..square peg, round holes was a staple of the Andy Era…

    Wanna know what the Eagles are going to do this week? It’s pretty simple, study the strengths and weaknesses of the Lions defense and you will have a pretty good understanding of how we will attack them on Sunday…

    Sounds simple. But for 14years it was maddening how often we ignored opponent weakness and banged our heads against the wall trying to attack their strengths…

    I can’t be any happier with Chip…

    I haven’t looked at detroits team yet, but my initial thoughts for this week are less TEs and more 3wr sets….Arizonas defense had about 8 of 11 players who were stout and who you didn’t want to go after..Chip attacked the 3 weaker players…lions defense will present more opportunity because they only have about 6 stout defenders to stay away from, and 5 to pick on…

    • theycallmerob

      The lions give up the 26th most pass yards; -8 in TO differential (also 26th).

      Weaker back 7 in general.

      They also do the worst against QBs running the no huddle; 63.5% completion rate and 108 qb rating allowed. Our offense should match up well, or at least better than even the ARI game

      http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/det/2013_opp_splits.htm

      edit some more stats to play with:
      -Eagles defense has more sacks than DET (29 to 27). For all the great DL hype, their pass rush is as suspect as ours at times
      -tough red zone D (3rd best at TDs allowed, 38%)
      -tied with us at Yards allowed per play (5.6)
      -3rd best run D (82.7 YPG, about on par with ARI)
      -QBs average an 89.0 rating against (21st in NFL; we’re 14th at 83.6)
      -QBs complete 60.4% of passes against (Eagles D is close to that, 60.9%)

      • GEAGLE

        Thank you sir…for me, this is all about the Oline. Have a spectacular game and we put up BIGTIME numbers on this defense, but if our line doesn’t have a huge game! that front 4 can knock FOles out the game. Dangerous matchup, but IMO one that’s very winnable..

        Arizona was the best defense we would face the rest of the way…Detroit will probably be the best offense remaining on the schedule…win or lose, we gonna learn everything about this team in December….exciting times
        ..
        Nick stood in the pocket and took a bunch of huge shots from Caleus and Dockett..like a warrior the kid kept getting back up. Never got happy feet…a lot to like about yesterday…but I don’t want to see him take hone shots from. Dirty Suh

        • EaglePete

          I swear, there were times Nick was just standing in the pocket waiting for the WR to get open, like “cmon guys can someone get open here” O line played incredible game I thought. Nick is smart also, will take the loss of yards but wrap the ball up and go down. Just saw another QB yest not do that and fumble trying to do too much, happens a lot. Hes a heady play this Folesy, lovin it. CK showing he belongs just needs to improve on 2nd half adjustments I think but hey, I aint complaining about a team playing with leads.

      • cliff henny

        also, love getting dome offense out in elements. like to see offense home/road splits.

        • GEAGLE

          I like playing against a good QB like Stafford, but one who will give this hungry defense a chance to come up with Turnovers.

        • theycallmerob

          both run and pass are worse away from home.

          run- 4.5 ypc and 11 TDs (H), 3.9 ypc and 2 TDs (A)
          pass- (H) 62%, 8.0 YPA, 14 td/10 int/5 sacks. (A) 56%, 7.0 YPA, 14 td/4 int/10 sacks.

          and not like they played in terribly inclement weather- @ ARI (dome), WAS, GB in october, CLE in october, CHI, and PIT.
          PIT game should be out template- held Bush and Bell to 80 yards rushing combined, Stafford went 19/46 for 362/2/1. PIT isn’t exactly great either.

          http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/det/2013_splits.htm

          • cliff henny

            thanks! pretty typical for a dome team. stafford is just younger version of Palmer, he’ll throw a couple eagles way, just have to take advantage. not let johnson go ape-shit, kendricks needs to shadow bush. all doable, offense plays 4 quarters, winnable game.

          • GEAGLE

            Appreciate the intel Rob..saved me some work

  • GEAGLE

    Tony Romo 13-17 in the month of December. If Tony HAS to beat us on the final game to get in the playoffs he will choke! He will have a week of preperation with “can’t win the big one” looming over his head….FOles had all the pressure to perform in the world heading into Oakland…Romo can fail and he will get plenty of opportunities…people were waiting for FOles to have a tough time against Oakland so they could throw him in the trash? You simply don’t see more personal pressur than FOles had to overcome after the Dallas game, and FOles used that pressure to create and diamond of a performance. playoffs,nSB, BCS championships…to us, those are higher pressure situations, but ii can assure you FOles will never feel much more pressure then he felt after the Dallas game..and he overcame it!! Romo has had a long time and plenty of chances to have that type of pressure on hiss shoulders and overcome it…yet he still hasn’t been able to come up big, when all the pressure mounted…..our kid did it in his 8th NFL game.

    Dallas is NOT a better team than us. let’s go win this division and show them how at a real Big Time QB looks like…Win out right, and put on a show against Dallas just for fun!!..

    FOles has now more then half a season worth of games and he is still the top QB in the NFL followed by Peyton,Brees and Brady….at some point! a Fluke becomes Reality!!
    ..
    Nick has a long way to go before being talked about those QBs, but none of them coulda held nicks jock at this stage in Teir development with the exception of Brady. compare F oles to this point with Peyton 12 games into his career, and Peyton can’t even hold the kids jock. That doesn’t mean he is destined to be better than Peyton, but if he keeps working and gaining experience, we will have a Bonafide stud on our hands for a long time

    • Alex

      I didn’t see any FOles commentary after the first Dallas game, fruitcake. Stop being such a homer. A great win is a great win, and let’s just enjoy the ride and not get ahead of ourselves.

      • GEAGLE

        Sorry but you are beneath me, so this is all the response you get lol

        If you can’t debate because of football acumen, without taking personal hots then you are simply beneath me…go play that trashy game with someone else. Thanks and enjoy your day

    • mtn_green

      Relying on romo choking is a losing strategy.
      I think Dallas isn’t as good as their stats. Eagles slightly better(a lot of garbage time points, yards given to opponent, left on field to waste time)

      • GEAGLE

        I’m not relying on Romo to joke,..him on his best day with THAT team does NOT fear me!!
        ..
        As long as our offensive and defensive line is healthy, romo DOES NOT SCARE ME at all!!!
        ..
        But I think he has earned the putrid choke reputation and has had plenty of chances to change that perception. I don’t count on him choking…I count on punching him in the mouth and strangling him til he chokes!!

        • EaglePete

          I agree on his reputation, only thing Id say is this season he has a few recent come from behind clutch wins. Not the Romo I like to see, but that D of theirs is terrible. They dont scare me either, I just hope Romo hasnt found some kind of belief in himself, we still have December to have that come crashing down.

  • theycallmerob

    We think that against any safety we can get open

    I love that mentality. Keep it up.

    • BlindChow

      Well, they do practice against Patrick Chung…

      • http://www.aceandson.com/blog Richard O’Connor

        GJ Kinne on the scout team shuts them down though.

        • theycallmerob

          Kelly is saving him for the playoffs. His version of the m. night shymalan “twist”

        • PhilliePhanCT .

          Lol! Up vote for a GJ Kinney sighting,

  • theycallmerob

    Just thought we had some plays in there to the tight ends, get them in base personnel and then try to take advantage of that and those guys did.

    man, a coach who recognizes personnel/scheme, their liabilities, and the corresponding matchups to get our guys in position to make plays. I love it. I heart you Chip

    • cliff henny

      such a 180 degree change of how to build a team. Reid had a system and wanted to find the best players who fit that system. Kelly just wants the best players/max talent within his predetermined size and he’ll figure out the rest. sure Howie really appreciates the difference.

      • GEAGLE

        Interesting that they called a play for your boy James Casey at the most critical moment

        • cliff henny

          actually, i like casey the player…when talking about casey, more putting pretend GM hat on and discussing salary cap. say they draft Lyoria in 6th, why wouldnt they go with Ertz/Lyoria combo and free up 7m? there’s some cap room, but it’s not that much, some will need to be freed if want Byrd, cooper, maclin, maybe a FA cb.

          • Andy124

            Think he’ll be available then? I’d be pretty excited about that.

          • cliff henny

            right now, yes. see what happens after workouts and interviews. with extra 5th, if he’s there, and kelly wants him, take him. it’s not the poyer we had him 2nd rd grade bs, lyoria was sure fire first a yr ago.

          • theycallmerob

            still kinda bummed about poyer, could really use secondary depth….for a 7th rounder, he had a lot of promise. reminds me of coleman a lot- performed well in college, good grit/heart/technique, but just lacking in NFL talent and athleticism.

          • cliff henny

            bet kelly wanted to PS and make him into safety. eff’n Banner.

          • Richard Colton

            Think we’re getting a starting TE with a 6th round pick? Just because we got lucky with Celek in the 5th doesn’t mean they grow on trees. Anyway – I think if Lyoria has a combine like we think he’s going to have, he’ll go a lot higher than 6th. He can address his “thanks for making me 3 million $$$” fruit-basket to Honey Badger and Vontaze Burfict.

          • cliff henny

            right now celek is glorified blocking TE making 4m, who’s catches are getting less and less. see how far along ertz gets, but might only need blocking TE, and yes those guys can be found later in draft…certainly not of lyoria’s talent. sometimes tough cuts need to be made to free cap. cant believe i’m typing it, but need to find a way to resign coop. maybe renego celek, but casey’s a 4m 3rd stringer never player, that makes little sense. harbor could do same for 700k.

          • theycallmerob

            rather use that late round pick on a slot guy- looking at you, campanaro. Simply flip Ertz and Celek on the depth chart next year. Give Celek bit of a pay cut. Bring in a late rounder or UDFA for nothing more than depth and a year to learn. Aside from LJ, Chip didn’t force any of the rookies into starting before he deemed them ready (very gradual increase in snaps at first)

          • Richard Colton

            I’m not opposed to TE Lyerla. And besides, who knows him better than Chip? Just think that where we’re slotting him is a bit of wishful thinking. I’m calling it the “Colt” rule for ’14 Mock Drafts – you can’t slot Lyerla to the Eagles with anything less than a 5th.

      • Tony

        While he uses his player’s strengths a bit more, Chip most certainly does have a system that he wants his players to fit into and buy into. You don’t see any out-of-shape linemen on his team, right? You see the occasional stunt and one-gap blitz from D-linemen, but they are primarily playing a 2-gap defense.

      • knighn

        What’s interesting at this point in the season:
        After 3 losses, the KC Chiefs don’t seem so far ahead of the Eagles, do they? KC has got 4 potentially tough games coming up: @WSH; @OAK; IND; @SD. Notice: 3 of 4 are on the road. As I said before this season it will be interesting to watch these other 3 teams with strong Eagles ties:
        – KC – Reid (9-3)
        – CLE – Banner – good job fleecing IND! Now go get a QB! (4-8)
        – JAX – Gus Bradley – our almost coach (3-9)
        I only have sympathy for Bradley.

        • BlindChow

          At this point, Washington just doesn’t seem tough anymore.

          • knighn

            If the Chiefs go into that game with that mentality, they might get rolled. As the Eagles learned in two games vs WSH, you have to play them for a full 60.

        • Andy124

          You forgot San Diego. I wanted McCoy more than Bradley.

          • knighn

            I was “ok” with McCoy. Never got the impression that he was anywhere close to being the coach. It seems like he’s got Rivers playing better – got to give him credit for that.

        • cliff henny

          see what happens in 2 yrs when reid’s doing it with his guys. i figured he’d have a decent reg season w/ tat defense, also got really fortunate with a bunch of early season backups. was rooting for big red, but after 8-0 vs 3-5, not going to lie, national media slobbering all over him and a smith got to me. glad they are 1-3.

          • knighn

            My mentality on Reid: he is a very good coach, and he is a very flawed coach. I never thought he was a “great” coach so the national perspective on him was somewhat annoying. “Oh, the Eagles are going to regret letting him go.

            Sounds like Reid is being a little smarter in KC – sticking to coaching instead of trying to be the GM. It will be interesting to watch that situation unfold in KC over the next few years. I think Reid will interject himself in personnel decisions a little too often… and history shows that he is more likely to be wrong than right. Call me selfish, but I don’t want him to succeed. If he was ever capable of winning the Super Bowl anywhere, he should have done it here. He had 14 years to get it done. He didn’t, so he shouldn’t be doing it anywhere else.

        • Maggie

          Unfortunately for Gus, it will take more than 1 year to build a contender from the wreckage that is the Jaguars.

          • knighn

            Yes. That is part of the reason why I have sympathy for him. He ended up going to JAX and he was so close to being the Eagles HC. I wonder how the Eagles would look right now if that actually happened!

          • Adam

            Who he would have hired as an OC would be a massive factor. But could anybody have the offense humming as well as Chip has this year? I’m really not sure. With our line and skill position guys it was a match made in heaven.

    • GEAGLE

      So true…but my fav part about Chips is how the national guys and old school NFL people all hate on hm…I get a kick out of it…
      ..
      That TD play to Ertz was gorgeous play design..Faked the toss to Shady, that took Washington and dansby out of the play because they went with Shady, and the big tat all Ertz had a ton of room to work with in the right corner..FOles threw beautiful ball that the Honeybadger had no chance at getting his hand on.. That was the first time we ran that play this year and it worked to perfection

  • djack10

    doesnt chip kelly seem more prepared than the other coach every week? even in the games we lost?

    • anon

      not in the second half, but he’s doing a great job generally.

      • Adam

        It’s not all play calling. It’s execution too. Players have said that in the 2nd half after they have the lead they tend to get lax.

        • anon

          Yeah i meant being able to adjust in general.

  • PhilliePhanCT .

    I can’t be the only one who was alternatively yelling at Celek to get down AND keep going on that first pass/catch during the first drive. Almost had a heart attack!

  • mtn_green

    Eagles run defense is awesome. Last few years they’ve been terrible.
    Are raiders the only team to have a 100 yard rusher against eagles?

    • theycallmerob

      yup; awesome stat. And faced some great running backs and running offenses (WAS x 2-Morris and RG3, Morris did hit 93; KC- Charles hit 92; DEN- knowshon; TAM- Doug Martin, OAK- Pryor, GB- Lacy)
      Excited to see how we do against Bush, Forte, and Peterson. Big test of where the D is now and going into next year (so damn young!)

      • Andy124

        Love that you count Pryor as a running back. I believe my PSU guy has wrested the job from him full time now, no?

        • theycallmerob

          I’d imagine just as much as Foles has here. Somewhat sad they couldn’t finish on Thurs, as a Scranton kid I bet he hates DAL :)
          Think there are fans in OAK hanging onto Pryor based on fool’s gold performances, inconsistent passer ability, yet extreme running ability and athleticism? deja vu…..

          • Andy124

            So athletic quarterbacks have lost their jobs to non-athletic passers in Philly, Tampa and Oakland this season. Wave of the future indeed.

          • BlindChow

            Also, Joe Webb is getting blackballed in Minnesota. Especially after totally dominating that playoff game last year!

          • theycallmerob

            shh, don’t tell shah!

          • Andy124

            They just don’t want anybody at QB that can threaten Ponder’s job, that’s why they’re moving him to WR.

  • PhiEagles14

    I think that next week’s game against the Lions is the biggest challenge we are going to face for the rest of the year- sure they turn the ball over tons but that doesn’t stop them from shredding people over the top… There run defense is legit and they have a great coverage linebacker who I believe is leading the league in picks. IF we win this one, i truly believe we can run the table into playoffs… I would love to see Foles break Manning’s TD record, just gotta play smart football. All in all it was an awesome win on Sunday- kinda glad they didn’t blow them out at the end of the day… Keeps us that much more hungry and gives us that much more room to improve, we are hitting our stride but haven’t topped off yet… Remember fella’s this is just year one… just year one… :D

    • anon

      have you seen the Cowboy’s schedule ROS? We could win out and still not make it. Hopefully skins can help us out

      • theycallmerob

        If we win out, we’re guaranteed to make it. NFC East champs.
        Also, I’d say their schedule isn’t that much easier- they can’t stop Brandon Marshall or Forte, and they’re playing @CHI at night (dome team).
        Rodgers may be back. And WAS hates them with a passion.

        I’d say DET is tough for us, but we have CHI at home. MIN and WAS are about equal.

        • anon

          You’re right if we beat dallas we make it. I mean even if we tie dallas we might not make it.

          • PhiEagles14

            Here is my take… I think we can win every game- the difference between the lions game and the bears game is that Chicago can’t stop the run if their life depended on it… because of this… it helps Foles and the passing game immensely… get shady going they will load the box then we will burn them on the screen/play action game.

            Im not focused on the Cowboys, they will do their own thing and we will do ours… we take care of our end and we will be fine…

            Another bonus if we win this game, this could push us to the three seed compared to the four… man i never thought i would hear myself saying that a month ago.

          • anon

            yeah if we beat bears / lions gotta be 3 seed. need sf / carolina to start losing.

          • theycallmerob

            but…..what if DAL (division) and the birds (WC) make it? SF or CAR may take at least a loss coming up- SF has SEA and ARI, CAR has NO twice. Both may finish 10-6.
            If Eagles go 3-1, also 10-6. Wouldn’t they get it by virtue of conf. record?
            go to DAL for the divisional game? yes please

          • PhiEagles14

            yah they could- i just don’t see Dallas winning 2 out of 3 against (Bears, Packers, Birds). I mean they nearly lost against the raiders who’s QB was watching the thanksgiving game on a couch in Scranton last year.

          • PhiEagles14

            49ers will lose next week to the seahawks, if the cardinals pull an upset in week 17 and win out we can have a rematch first round of playoffs with the cardinals back at home… now that would be nice :D

          • Brandon Boykin, OLB

            I wouldn’t be so sure about that 9ers loss. Game is at Candlestick, unless I’m mistaken. I’m not saying it won’t happen; I’m simply saying that I wouldn’t be so sure.

          • PhiEagles14

            Seattle is built to beat SF. Of course it isn’t 100% but i’d bet on the Hawks. The secondary will pick apart Cap… it will be a close game; a pick on the final drive will seal it. Then we will all have to endure a week of Richard Sherman talking and talking and talking and talking….

          • G_WallyHunter

            If we tie Dallas they get the Division, we’d be fighting for a tough wild card spot. Need to win out to win division outright

          • knighn

            Not even worried about DAL. I looked at their last 4 games. I looked at their team. I looked at their history with Romo in December. By the time the Eagles play them on Dec 29, it is quite conceivable that the Eagles will have the division wrapped up and DAL will only be playing for a “moral victory”.

        • Token

          Having both Detroit and Chicago at home is big. Playing in Chicago always seems tough. And they have a terrible field. I think we can win one of those games but probably not both.

        • Maggie

          I would be a little cautious about Minnesota. They do seem to have knack for comebacks and, of course, AD.

          • Richard Colton

            agree. Minnesota in between Bears & Lions at home has an Admiral Ackbar feel to it.

          • Andy124

            Well done.

            They do seem to be playing a little better lately too. Only 1 loss in their last 4 games, and that to the team with the best record in the NFL right now.

        • Mike Calabrese

          Rob, from my understanding if both us and Cowboys win outuntil week 17, and we win week 17 they would win division. First tie breaker is head to head and would be 1-1. Second tie breaker division record. Cowboys would be 5-1 we would be 4-2. Hopefully Rodgers comes back for Dallas and wins or Chicago finds way to beat them.

          • theycallmerob

            Both teams are currently 7-5. If both win next 3, arrive at week 17 still tied playing for the division

          • Mike Calabrese

            Stupid me. Your right man. I did a scenario before where both went 3-2 and I think for some reason i made that my mindset. Sorry I really didn’t think that one through.

    • Andy124

      I agree that they’re the biggest challenge left. But I also think Arizona is better than Detroit. Detroit’s offense is a step above Arizona, but their defense is two steps down.

      Remember, Detroit lost to TAMPA BAY and Pittsburg the two weeks prior to whipping a mentally broken Packer squad and they lost to the same Cardinal team that we just beat, but before Arizona was playing their best ball. Their biggest wins are a 1 point squeaker over Dallas and a pair against a severely defensively challenged Bears team.

      Not to say we should be heavily favored, but I like our chances.