Zone Read: Eagles-Cardinals, the Day After


“Those guys run about three or four plays in one play, and you just have to keep to your assignment and don’t let the play-fakes and motions confuse you.” – Tyrann Mathieu

The Cardinals’ rookie defensive back provided a pretty good description of Kelly’s offense. Give the quarterback plenty of options based on the look of the defense. Go back to the same concepts over and over, but dress them up differently. And try to put the defense in a bind.



1. I’m looking forward to re-watching the game and seeing how the offensive line protected. Foles was definitely hit a lot (five sacks, seven QB hits), but the sense I got in the locker room was that the Eagles were willing to give the Cardinals credit on many of those.

“They are very, very solid,” said guard Evan Mathis. “A lot of good players in a tremendous scheme. They were able to figure out what we were doing a lot, and we had to fight against that. It was an uphill battle.

“We had some breakdowns. I don’t think it was a ton. We wanted to be flawless. We want it to be he’s never on the ground, never sacked. …But there were a couple breakdowns. That’s a very good defense and hats off to them for playing a very good game.”

2. The Cardinals entered the game allowing 83.6 yards per game to opposing tight ends, second-most in the league according to Football Outsiders. So put this one down in the “should have seen it coming” category. Ertz and Brent Celek combined for nine catches, 97 yards and three touchdowns on 12 targets.

We know Kelly really likes tight ends because of their versatility. The funny thing after the game was that players gave different answers when asked about the specific matchup advantages.

“We saw a lot of man-to-man coverage from the safety,” Ertz said.

But Foles disagreed.

“I felt like we had good matchups with our tight ends against [Arizona’s] linebackers,” he said.

We’ll go back and look at the tape to see if the catches came against safeties or linebackers. But the varying responses are a good example of why Kelly likes tight ends in the first place. He’s said all along: size advantage vs. safeties and athleticism advantage vs. linebackers.

3. The senseless debate over what’s better – a pocket passer or a mobile QB – continues to rage on. I’ve said all along that it’s not an either/or proposition. If a QB can’t pass the ball, he’s not going to be successful regardless. But if he can pass the ball and has athleticism, that’s a plus.

Having said that, Eagles defenders clearly didn’t mind going up against a classic dropback QB after weeks of chasing down more athletic signal-callers.

“We understood that Carson was a pocket passer,” Williams said. “He was a guy that wasn’t gonna get outside of the pocket. He wanted to step in. We made the pocket a little tight for him.”

I asked Barwin if it was nice to not have to face a mobile QB this week.

“It’s real nice to know where a guy’s gonna be,” he said. “It’s real nice. He takes a step back and he steps up. It’s really nice to play against guys like that.”

4. Nate Allen came up with an interception in the first quarter for the Eagles’ second takeaway. The Eagles’ safety continues to play the best football of his career.

“He’s one of the hardest workers in the building,” Davis said. “It means a lot to him. I think he’s highly motivated because he hasn’t had the success, and everyone’s been on him for a couple years here. Everybody wanted him to be Brian Dawkins. And now I think everyone’s letting him be Nate Allen. He’s not Brian Dawkins. He’s Nate Allen. And he’s gonna make his plays his way and do it his way, and he’s a good solid safety for us.”

5. Introducing a new feature here titled: Why my job is weird.

The Eagles open up the locker room after practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Players stroll in and out, grabbing food, heading into the lounge, showering, etc. Sometimes you can interview a player before he heads in to shower. Other times, you have to wait until they come out.

Last week, I wanted to chat with Jason Peters. But the Eagles’ left tackle had just showered and was getting dressed. I figured I’d wait for him to put some clothes on before walking over. I BS’d with some other reporters for a few minutes, turned around to check on his status and found he had already left the locker room.

Waiting for a guy to put some pants on had limited my ability to do my job. How many of you can say you run into similar issues in your workplace?



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  • hillbillybirdsfan

    Love the way Trent busted his butt to make the position change. He’ll never be a great cover guy but it’s nice to see him get rewarded for his efforts. As usual, a great job by Sheil and Tim on the post-game coverage.

  • BlockingBack-BeanCounter

    Hands Down! In the No-22, looks like Graham is lined up as a 4-3 down lineman when he gets the sack. In the Numbers That Matter, credit Graham as a DE not as an OLB.

    • Adam

      Doesn’t look like his hand is down to me. Either way, our base defense is a 3-4 and Graham is an OLB.

    • PhilliePhanCT .

      Kendricks is blocking your view. Graham is squatting down low and it appears as if he’s a down lineman.

  • JettMartinez

    If the Smith play was just a Zone Read, why keep Foles in at WR? Why not just put Smith (or Vick for that matter) in with regular personnel? At first I though it would be some kind of lateral to Foles, who would then throw a forward pass, but if the revievers were all run blocking, that doesn’t make much sense.

    • anon

      so you don’t have to sub on next play.

      • Andy124

        Also, so they don’t know it’s coming before you line up.

      • JettMartinez

        Ah! Good point, still getting used to the go go go mentality!

        • anon

          Yeah the Go-Go makes it more likely that gimmicks will work b/c D has less time to prepare. Not a terrible thing to try on 1st and goal.

  • PhilliePhanCT .

    Nice how Roc C. comes in for 2 plays and one of them is a PI that places the ball on the one. Thanks, bro. Nicely done, now…get off the field. Ugh. Kid has some upside, but you gotta know your time and place.


    Love this teams mentality. They don’t rest on their laurels, every week they seem more concerned with what they need to improve on, then patting themselves on the back….if you hear an eagle give praise! it’s praise for how a team mate played. you don’t even hear players talk about themselves. Coaching and Locker room is a major part of success…and we seem STRONG in both areas….really enjoying this season no matter how it plays out

  • Scott J

    Chung was terrible. Hopefully we’ll get Wolff back soon.

    • bentheimmigrant

      It’s like he’s blocking for the other team! That’s 2 TDs in 2 games because he’s tackled the wrong guy. Then he almost knocked Sconces out of the game.

      • cliff henny

        thought c-wills was going to knock chung out, he looked pissed. friendly fire chung

        • BlindChow

          Maybe they promote Coleman or Anderson. Surely they couldn’t be worse…?

        • theycallmerob

          the No-Man’s Landshark?

    • Scott J

      Now we know why he was benched by the Patriots. They were probably scared he might get a hit on Brady while he was standing on the sideline.

  • distantfires

    Thought Nate Allen was active throughout and had a solid game.

  • greenblood20

    Good solid win against a good, solid team. Need to finish better, obviously. Still shaking my head over the Brad Smith play on 1st down in the red zone. What were they thinking, honestly? It is like Andy Reid leapt into Chip Kelly’s body on that one…

    • EaglePete

      I thought same thing although to be fair, Smith just keep your eyes on the snap and stay within yourself there and it might get a few yards or at least work to a degree. Was totally on him, he took his eyes off the ball. Also, some of the run calls on 2nd and 17 at one point and an entire series that went 3 n out, 3 straight runs. Nit picking though.

  • theycallmerob

    Celek and Ertz combined have 14 rec of 20+ yds (7 each). combined, that ties the Eagles TEs with Vernon Davis and Jimmy Graham for most in NFL (2nd best “team” duo overall; Gates and Green in SD have 18).
    Love it, especially from a run-first team. both guys are blocking well too

  • theycallmerob

    with both ILBs back and healthy, can you tell us who’s wearing the helmet mic on that side of the ball? I assume that same person is making the calls? I thought it was Kendricks in TC and PS (being groomed for the spot), then it appeared Ryans took over (DL mention he makes the calls, and of course Kendricks missed some time).
    Just thought it was interesting Kendricks is in there for the dime package.

    also, slight typo– under the snap counts, where you mention all the players who were in 100%, you left Chung’s name off the list

    • anon

      It’s gotta be Ryans — Billy D has said as much.

      • theycallmerob

        I believe so too. Reckon Kendricks manages only the dime package

    • OldDocRoss

      ” under the snap counts, where you mention all the players who were in 100%, you left Chung’s name off the list”

      On at least a couple of snaps he was playing for Arizona, so doesn’t count.

  • jon h

    Great article Sheil.

  • OldDocRoss

    Jason Kelce consistently gives some of the most honest, intelligent post-game interviews around. One of the best things about this site is Sheil and Tim taking the time to seek out guys like Kelce rather than just speaking to the ‘name’ players.

  • maxm98

    My problem with our 4th quarter scheme is this:
    Our offense is based around numbers – 6 or less in the box = run the ball – 7 or more = pass it. We have no power running game as such.

    Yet in the fourth when we have a lead teams know we will run and yet we run anyway. We either need to stick with our philosophy and throw in the fourth or start running true power football. Otherwise this will cost us a game soon.

    • Scott J

      I understand Kelly saying he wants to run because if you throw and don’t catch the ball, the clock will stop, BUT…I think 3-and-outs are worse. First downs are more important than the clock. Besides, if we throw, the defense will have to back off from stacking the box. Sometimes Kelly reminds me of Reid where they think they’re the smartest guy in the room.

  • theycallmerob

    Great stat, courtesy of Kempski (link to the article for the explanation below)

    In reality, the Eagles are 10 of 13 (76.9%) in the red zone with Nick Foles, not 10 of 17. That would put them at 2nd in the NFL, behind only Denver.

    • Andy124

      He must have seen my post about redzone kneel downs de-yeasting Nick’s redzone %. I love this power I have.

      Thank you for sharing that. I don’t check twitter enough.

    • Joe from Easton

      Thank you, I was going to ask about this if someone hadn’t already brought it up.

  • europeaneagle

    Well I guess that means Cole is still my favorite player on defense, with Fletcher Cox not far behind. I was wearing my #58 Jersey to watch the game, seemed to work well for him. Does that mean I have to get Chung’s?