The Case Of the Shrinking Leads

kelly_940_100713The Eagles offense has been shut out in the fourth quarter in each of  its last five games. Not since October 20, when Alex Henery kicked a 31-yard field goal three seconds into the period, has this unit generated points in the fourth.

The good news is that the Eagles are 4-1 over that five-game stretch. In back-to-back wins against Oakland and Green Bay, they were able to maintain a comfortable lead as they salted the game away. If you remember, they closed out the Packers with a 16-play drive that ate up 9:32 of game clock.

Things got a little too interesting late against Washington and Arizona over the last two weeks. The Eagles entered the fourth quarter up 24-0 on Washington and won 24-16. A 24-7 second-half lead against the Cards shrunk to 24-21.




There are worse problems than trying to figure out how to hold onto big leads -- at least it means you're getting big leads to begin with -- but it is an area that needs to be cleaned up before it comes back to bite them.

"I don't know if there is a common thread," said Pat Shurmur of the offensive dip late in games. "In a couple games we were playing we were trying to milk the clock. There have been times when we have been ahead and we have done a better job chewing the clock and moving the ball, and there have been a couple games that we didn't, and so that's what you work on."

Chip Kelly encountered a similar issue in the regular-season opener against Washington. His team was up 33-7 in the third quarter and held on to win 33-27.

A big question is whether the shift from up-tempo to a slower speed is a problem for this team. Are they still learning how to run an efficient offense when they get out of the up-tempo?

“No," said Kelly. "I mean, we’re always working on it but I think if you look at what we did in the Green Bay game and what we did in the Tampa Bay game, we’re capable of doing it and we have executed it. In two games we were very successful at it, in two games we weren’t good at it.”

Shurmur offered his take Tuesday.

"We're used to playing fast at times, and then we're used to playing for us what is a normal speed, being a no-huddle operation. I think we've effectively in a couple games done a good job of slowing it down where we're in four-minute mode. The challenge for us is to be efficient no matter what we try, whatever pace we try to play at."

Added Todd Herremans: "I don't think [slowing it down is causing problems]. If you look at the Green Bay game and the Tampa Bay game, we were able to effectively move the ball at the end of the game to run the clock out. We slowed it down and ate clock there. I don't really see it as a negative for us. In that last game it was probably just a little bit of a shift in momentum, and trying to get the momentum back when you are trying to run out the clock is a little tough sometimes."

There doesn't appear to be one answer for why the offense sometimes dries up late. A piece of it might be tempo-related; some of it can be attributed to play-calling, lack of execution or the defense's shift in approach. It's a multi-layered  issue, and one that has the coaching staff's attention.

"It’s something that we have to continue to work on," said Kelly. "There’s gotta be things to work on every single week and that’s something we’ll really address this week."

 

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  • MildEagsFan

    CACKAW CACKAW THE BIRDS R FLYING

  • Media Mike

    Play…………….Calling……………………
    tempo has nothing to do with it.

    • MildEagsFan

      Actually, it’s all about tempo. Play calling is rather irrelevant in this sport if you have been watching it for a while. Every team that has won the Super Bowl (more or less) in the last 10 years has been the team with the higher tempo offense. Just saying.

      • Media Mike

        So all of these 4th quarter f-ups would be avoid if we just played faster?

        • MildEagsFan

          What I’m saying is that play calling doesn’t matter one bit. Run or pass, 1st-and-10 or 3rd-and-3… it’s about tempo.

          • Media Mike

            It seems they’re failing to execute in the 4th quarter no matter what the speed.

          • MildEagsFan

            They took their foot off the gas pedal because they had the game locked up. They understood Arizona was no threat to them. Chip is notorious for not caring in the fourth when he’s up by more than one score.

          • Brian

            That would be foolish, and Chip’s not foolish.

          • MildEagsFan

            Foolish to acknowledge the superiority of his team? He does enough to get the win. No sense in wasting focus and concentration on building an even bigger lead. Chip understands that 3 points, 7 points, 21 points… it all counts as 1 win.

          • Brian

            Dutch?

          • MildEagsFan

            Excuse me?

          • Guest
          • Chris

            i guess my picture posted twice? Oh well, it was funny the second time too.

          • Chris

            This holds true to this thread

          • G_WallyHunter

            Was just gonna say, this Dutch’s new handle?

          • cliff henny

            chip is fine…i dont trust the Eagles in general! take alot more than 4 in row to rid me of that

          • MildEagsFan

            Chip IS the Eagles. They’d be wasting away with the Redskins if anyone else was at the helm of this team.

          • cliff henny

            well, that’s what all this comes down too. most of have been watching eagles mess up in new and unthinkable ways for decades. when you see leads contantly eroding, it’s tough to not re-hash those old demons. it hasnt been the easiest of roads being an eagles fan over last 40 or 50 yrs, outside 7 with reid, couple with vermeil

          • MildEagsFan

            Chip puts them all to shame. The next few years, including this one, will be proof of that.

          • aub32

            I have to disagree. We would have been in some major hot water had that INT stuck. We weren’t up enough to relax.

          • MildEagsFan

            Look; either you trust Chip, or you don’t.

          • aub32

            How does my statement imply I don’t trust Chip. I bought in before the start of the season, and I guarantee he would have preferred to see the offense move the ball in the 4th qtr.

          • Maggie

            You mean like the Seahawks on MNF? Only scored once in second half, just like Eagles. Natural to relax with big lead.

          • BlindChow

            Yeah, and they went up 34 to 7. That’s 27 points for the Saints to overcome. The Eagles were only up 17 points in the second half. Believe it or not, that 10-point swing makes a huge difference.

            The Seahawks also executed a 7-minute drive in the 4th, which the Eagles have been completely unable to do the last couple games.

            Oh, and then there’s the matter of Seattle’s defense. Maybe just a little more reliable than the Eagles’ D…

            But otherwise, it’s completely the same, I guess.

          • Andy124

            I think maybe you’re both right.

          • GEAGLE

            Eagles defense hasn’t given up more than 21 points in over two months…it’s officially, reliable!!

          • anon

            But they did give up big leads in the second half — I don’t blame them but if we had Seattle’s D that didn’t give up any points then i wouldn’t complain, but that’s not the case.

          • bill

            I think you’re right, but there is one distinction that cuts the other way – Seattle was playing Brees and the Saints, while the Eagles were playing Palmer and the Cards.
            Overall, though, I agree with you. That’s why Wilson is in such a perfect situation for a young QB – there’s very little pressure on him. He really can play with no fear. Things that are obsessed over here (red zone %, 2nd half performance) are largely ignored there, and it all has to do with that D.

          • Clamdigger

            I think we all owe Andy an apology. You CAN pass 3 times at the opponent’s 5 yard line, you just have to do it fast.

      • Brian

        Where are the stats on ‘fast tempo = championships’? That would be cool to see.

        • MildEagsFan

          Just something I’ve noticed in my years following the sport.

          • djack10

            The Ravens play fast tempo?

      • anon

        Giants play fast? Ravens? I’d argue that tempo teams like Denver / Patriots have been losing.

    • Maggie

      Beg to differ. As someone wrote yesterday, if you keep coming up to the ine and snapping the ball on the same count, the defense will notice! There will be no surprises. Tempo is important when it changes!

      • anon

        That basically means our o-line can’t run block worth a d*** in pro style formations. Which may explain why we rely on so much RO. I don’t know if that’s true but that’s what i’m starting to think.

  • cliff henny

    kelly figured out how to get vick to stop turning ball over, cooper to play like legit #2 WR, Foles working on historic stats, pick any guy on defense outside F-Cox-most will agree they’re playing better than we expected (exclude Geagle-he had everyone in Canton)…pretty sure Kelly will figure out how to play with 17-24 pnt leads…all i know…is JUST KEEP GETTING THEM!!!

    • GEAGLE

      Not everyone lol

      • aub32

        Everyone except Casey Matthews

        • GEAGLE

          Vick
          Celek
          Nate
          Coleman
          Damaris
          marsh
          Gaethers
          Trent Cole
          Barkley
          Soap

          But yeah, everyone else I woulda sent to canton

          Two guys I REALLY REALLY was high on and I really hope to see play in Eagles because I can’t help but to wonder What if they were playing when watching these games are:
          1) Jason Phillips who is basically a 260lb version of Colt Anderson
          2) Rejus Benn…with the way Cooper and Desean have played, I would almost be more excited to get a healthy Rejus back! then Maclin…I think we would be flat out Scary with big targets like a healthy Rejus!Cooper and Ertz to compliment Desean

          • cliff henny

            was only poking fun at you. give you credit, up till last 3 or 4 games, you were the only one talking about defense. i know i wasnt. i thought eagles would be 5-7 win team, be in ton of 42-38 shootouts, losing a bunch late.

          • GEAGLE

            I know mate..you always kept it respectful with me..

            I’m a defensive guy who is rarely concerned with offense but I’m starting to really really want a Julio,Fitzy,Marshall,Dez!Demaryious, V Jax type to pair with Desean,Ertz,and Coop….problem is we can’t pay Desean,coop and Trade for THAT type of guy because we would have to dump too much money into one position….so we are going to have to draft our special BEASTMODE WR who is gonna get his no matter what…There is NO consensus top 5 WR in THIS draft…so who is going to be the NEXT SPECIAL Franchise WR to come out of college?
            ..
            I really need to see FOles have a Vincent Jackson type with Coop, Desean and Ertz complimenting him…how do we get that guy cliff? I’m not good with projecting WR from college to NFL, it’s a position I never played

          • cliff henny

            figuring in where eagles will draft, unless Mike Evans falls and he wont, Landry out of LSU is perfect for this offense. think if he’s gone in 2nd, 3rd look for Moncrief out of Miss. some people really likeBenjamin ourt of FSU, he is Beast-mode but not around LOS, he like using size and speed 10+ yards down field. Landry is everything, speed, routes, possession, returner, can catch screnes and run thru tackles. all 3 work.

          • GEAGLE

            Who would you compare him to at the next level? Wouldn’t be surprised if we start adding LSU kids consistently…
            ..
            I know most of these WRs games, i have a good grasp on the range they will be drafted in….but WR is a position that I struggle figuring out how it will translate from college to pro.
            ..
            I believe Evans is LEGIT and that he will be a David Boston,Anquan Type…
            ..
            I know I would be happy if we drafted Evans,Sammy,Moncrief!Landry! PSU Robinson,Odell
            I know they will be productive NFL WR that with good coaching can help us, I just have a hard time figuring out which will be that Demaryius Thomas type of Stud(since their is no top 5 Calvin in this draft) true number 1 WR, or which will be good #2’s at the next level….

            take for example Sammy watkins..I know I would want him on the eagles but will he be a Maclin or can he grow into a Brandon Marshall type of Dominant WR?…..If we take a WR in rd 2 and 3, I’m fine with him only being a good number two. But if we draft him I’m round 1, I need him to be a better harder to stop WR than Desean Jackson. Maclin I view on par with Desean. if we take one in the first, I need him to be better than that…who besides Evans has a chance to be better than that?
            ….
            a guy like Allen Robinson has been a big explosive playmaker at college, a kid like him will be a good NFL player. You draft him, and atleast you can conundrum on him beng a solid Mike Williams Type, but we need to find that Mike Williams type who you get lucky and turn out to be Vncent he ackson…I have a good grasp on most of the WR skills with the exception of the kid Colemanmfrom Rutgers, and the underclass end from Fresno state. Who some having climbing all the way to #12…

            Unless we are talking about OT,OG,TE,DL,LB,S,CB…I defer to someone else when translating from college to pros

          • EaglePete

            David Boston, theres a blast from the past. That dude had bigger arms than most lbs. He never really panned out though, maybe it was injury or bad teams, I forget.

          • GEAGLE

            He had some good years, but probably didn’t have the career he could have

          • Andy124

            I’m whichu. Anytime I watched him play I was wishing he was an Eagle.

          • Richard Colton

            I know this – we won’t be drafting Mariotta this year. Neither will anyone else.

          • GEAGLE

            Music to my ears

  • B-West

    Would huddling help anything? Seems like getting to the line so quick and then just waiting around is awkward. Can’t be fun in that stance for the o-line, and everybody gets very stagnant.

    At least with a huddle, you could break, jog to the line and keep the amount of time from lining up until snap similar. Plus, lining up so early gives the defense all day to look at the formation. And Chip rarely changes up much with ‘check with me’ thing. He might motion Shady to the other side, but I think that’s the most I’ve seen.

    Huddling… Should I even be talking about this? Feels wrong under the new regime. Haha

    • Brian

      I just had the same thought. Seems more ‘normal’ to get to the line and snap in rhythm.

    • GEAGLE

      Nah…opponents should ONLY get to substitute when we NEED to substitute.

      I also happen to think one of the strengths of Nick FOles and Jason Kelce is their ability to read defenses pre snap…Why waste time in the huddle, when that time can be spent on FOles and Jason analyzing the defense! making the proper checks and getting everyone else on the same page…FOles is really starting to become good at it…I saw him send guys in motion! force Arizona to tip their hand, then Kelce bark out the proper assignments and us go on to flawlessly pick up some exotic blitzes from a top defense like Arizona,.

      We will see more and more what a weapon Nick’s QB brain will develop into…did you guys hear his comments about the mental database that he is building? I adore this kid and can’t wait to see how much he continues to grow Over the next two years…he is definitely ahead of Where Peyton manning was presnap 12 games into his NFL career

    • Andy124

      If our guys are in their stance, their guys have to be in their stance too, and our guys are more conditioned for it. I don’t really see much benefit to huddling in this situation. Even if we didn’t want to keep them in their stances for that long, they could just stand at the line.

      They’re getting a look at our alignment, but the reverse is true as well, and imo, more meaningful.

      • G_WallyHunter

        Good point with the stances and conditioning, probably really screws with the DL when you get them to stand on their 3 or 4pt for 10+ seconds.. THEN the play comes, beauty

      • BlindChow

        We’re getting a look at their alignment, but it hasn’t been helping much. At least not against Washington and Arizona.

        Kempski did make a good point about it helping to hide when they’re going to snap the ball. I’d like some more hard counts thrown in though, since they’re just standing around anyway…

        • GEAGLE

          You don’t think it’s been helping much? Their is NO WAY we would hae picked up the blitzes so well against that tough defense to put 24 points on the board if FOles and Kelce weren’t so good presnap that they could identify who Zona was binging and check our guys into picking it up properly
          ..
          pre snap at the line of scrimmage, is one of FOles and Kelce biggest strength IMO…ad they are both so relatively inexperienced at it on this level, that they will only get better at it

          • Brian

            Then explain the 4th quarter. Just tossing ideas around.

          • GEAGLE

            Human nature…

            How many times do you see a team that is up by 14 points or more all game, and then they stop scoring, and their opponents get those meaningless back door TDs late? Lol an entire NFL gambling industry is practically built on that human nature….
            ..
            You have seen TOO many games where a team looks like it’s destined to win by 17points, give up those back door points against a team that was struggling to score all game, and the team only ends up winning by 7 points….

            When you have a big lead, it’s human nature to let up..we simply weren’t as sharp as we were in the first half. a heck there was a play where half our Oline went the wrong way…when do you see us make those type of glaring mistakes when the score is close? when you have too big of lead it’s very difficult to not let up…the first half we play pedal to floor, which is how we are trained to play, all we are focused on is putting points…later in the game when you are trying to protect a big lead the formula changes because killing the clock becomes a part of your thinking. We simply haven’t mastered yet continuing to put up points, while also killing the clock…but there is NO doubt that we will learn sooner or later. These coaches COACH us UP, they won’t tolerate watching the same exact mistakes for 14 years…there are some things like playing with the lead that we have to clean up and improve upon before we become the second coming of these greatest show on Turf…but we will get there with these coaches and this QB…

            We are so far away from being a finished product…forget what we did to Greenbay, Tampa is a heckuva run defense and we pounded it down their throat for 9 minutes,,we will get to the point where we can be more consistent at it, but this is all a learning and developent process…just because we are further along than everyone thought it doesn’t mean we are a finished product…we have a long ways to go, and plenty to work on

          • Brian

            I wouldn’t be concerned if it was ‘junk time’ that we were allowing scores. We were not far from being tied, or losing, on Sunday. That’s not junk time. I’m not screaming for anyone’s head, but it would be nice to outscore our opponents in the second half, more often.

          • BlindChow

            When the opposing team scores in the 4th quarter, the announcers should be too busy talking about the Eagles’ next opponent to bother commenting on the action at hand.

          • GEAGLE

            What makes me think that it’s just human nature, letting up,needing to learn to play protect the lead mode better is the fact that we score on the opening drive of the 3rd…that means, that h of time adjustments isn’t the issue…they made their adjustments at half time, and we immediately score…and then things slow down….

            Also, we run the HURRY UP, because it gives us advantages…we are just getting good at running it and taking advantage of the opportunities it creates for us..so are people REALLY THAT surprised that we aren’t a completely well oiled machine already that can just steam roll teams without the advantages it creates for us? Give it some time, and it will come…

            We all want this to be some finished product because we are tasting success, but it’s NOT…it’s still just stage 1, the foundation…their will be wharts and things we need to improve, right now, this just happens to be one of them…problems under Kelly don’t linger for 14 years..,it’s a safe bet to say this is an issue that will be corrected soon!!

          • BlindChow

            Actually, I read a game analysis that suggested Kelly didn’t let up in the 3rd quarter–he called plenty of pass plays, but the problem was Foles started missing wide open guys, like in Dallas. I’m guessing the All-22’s will show that this week.

            Makes me wonder if he got knocked on the head again at some point and got flustered…

          • Brian

            He definitely missed some throws, that he normally makes with ease. He was getting hit more often in the late third and fourth quarters. Probably just hurrying his throws, thus not getting his feet set. Easily corrected. I guess the question is, what did Arizona’s and Washington’s defenses do differently, than Green Bay’s?

          • GEAGLE

            In fairness, his team mates didn’t really let Him get in a flow. When he would make something happen, the next play would be Bryce running backwards for 8 yards, or Avant getting a shady run called back killing what Rythem we were trying to get going…although it could have just been a product of a good defense buckling down and getting comfortable…he could have been taking less risk, over throwing balls or under throwing them away from the defenders to be extra cautious not to turn it over knowing that he has the lead….it’s could literally be like 5 tiny, correctable things that all equaled up and gave the cardinals that extra inche they needed to start having success..football is funny like that, theorizing why is interesting, but I don’t think this is something we should be too concerned about. Now if we see this in 2015 after guys are really comfortable in this scheme and grown up then we have a PROBLEM!! Right now it’s not a problem, it’s just something to clean up and improve on

          • Brian

            Then there’s this From PFF… – “Nick Foles continues to struggle with pressure. On 15 pressured dropbacks he went four of ten for 41 yards(52.5 QB rating) and took five sacks.”

            Of course, that doesn’t take coverage, or how quickly he was under pressure, into account.

          • BlindChow

            We put points on the board during the uptempo portion of the game, not the stand-around-at-the-line-of-scrimmage portion, which is what we’re talking about.

          • Joe from Easton

            A little Saturday/Manning chemistry there?

          • GEAGLE

            Showing early signs…FOles and Wilson are the only QBs from their class to make drastic second year improvement..

            We treat Kelce like he is an 5time veteran probowler who has been running our line for 8 years when in reality he only has a season and a half of game experience..and about 8 months of experience in this offense….the fact that we treat him like he is an 8year veteran is a testament to how awesome he is…but in reality we haven’t even seen the best of Jason Kelce yet, and that’s a beautiful thing because the dude has been pretty gnarly since day 1

        • Andy124

          Absolutely not helping, you’re right. But theoretically not hurting either. Funny thing is, we’re fixated on two instances primarily which puts back in the old ‘small sample size’ box. I’m happy to spectate and see what happens… as long as they don’t start throwing different QBs in there. :)

  • GEAGLE

    I’m not very concerned by this…we are a better team than people thought, but we still have much to improve on. Closing out games just happens to be one of them..keep in mind that guys like FOles,Shady,Kelce, Mathis….these guys haven’t gotten that much experience playing with leads in the 4th quarter since coming to the eagles..I think this is jus one of the things we need to improve on, and fortunately I trust in the coaching these guys will get, and I trust that our weak spots will continue to improve. Next season, I expect more 4th quarters that look like Tampa and GB, then 4th quarters that looked like Arizona….

    We were in control against Arizona for 55 out of 60 minutes…that was a top opponent we had the lead against for an ENTIRE game…no matter how great we become! opponents will always have their moments against us…back door TDs given up by a team that’s been in control the entire game is soooo common, and I seriously doubt we will be getting shut out of fourth quarters much longer,,,there will ALWAYS be problems we need to take care of, and things we need to improve on…

    if one of our biggest problems right now, in the middle of a 4game winning streak is learning to play with a lead lol, That’s a problem I welcome!!!!

    I promise we will score in the 4th quarter against the lions…

    • MildEagsFan

      This is what I’ve been trying to say. People need to step back and relax. A win is a win, who cares if they relinquished a big lead to a small one. Kelly would roast anyone who mentions this to him as if the world is coming to an end.

      Matt Bradford is gonna light up the secondary next week though. That I can GUARANTEE.

      • Explorer51

        It’s Stafford, and don’t be surprised that he throws a couple of picks as well.

        • MildEagsFan

          Purposely misspelled his name as a sign of disrespect. But thanks.

          • Explorer51

            Sorry dude, missed your intent.

          • G_WallyHunter

            Oh, of course.

    • Explorer51

      Agree, big time, with your first sentence. Also, I’d much rather have a problem of handling leads in the 4th than how to consistently get leads in the 4th. I have confidence that CK and his staff will figure this out, game by game and certainly in the off-season…something I would never have said for AR and his guys.

  • JofreyRice

    Pretty cool that keeping a large lead is one of the Eagles big problems.

    • Andy124

      Indeed.

    • G_WallyHunter

      Ya, who woulda thunk this would be an article title come December?
      Nobody on this blog

      • cliff henny

        i remember joking about after 1st washington game. general consensus was 33-7 was probably 1 time deal.

        • G_WallyHunter

          haha ya “Oh it’s just washington, they suck”

          • cliff henny

            i said that too…and sure worse…who knew? like foles, was pretty sure his ceiling was competent back-up. i never mind being wrong, when new information presents itself, i’m happily willing to adjust my outlook.

          • G_WallyHunter

            aren’t we all happily willing to adjust this year, gotta love it

      • BlindChow

        We’ve been losing big leads for years. Remember that San Francisco game in 2011? Damn you, Ronnie Brown!!!

        • cliff henny

          remember all of ’11 games?

          • anon

            That was depressing

        • DirtyWaters

          Damn you Maclin, horrible fumble. Damn you Michael Turner, crazy run. Last year killed me. Detroit, Pittsburg, Carolina. All 4th quarter leads. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch.

        • JofreyRice

          It’s the safeties, IMO. Big plays, late in the game, when the opposing offense is throwing on 3 or 4 downs. I believe good safety play prevents that kind of thing.

          • BlindChow

            We’d actually probably play better if we used just 10 men and kept Chung on the sideline.

    • Token

      Never would of thought itd be a issue at the start of the season. Getting 4 wins seemed optimistic back then.

      • JofreyRice

        yeah, I thought best case scenario, they’d have 6 wins, and Kelly’s offense would be humming along–that they’d work on building the D up in the offseason, with some hopeful signs about the future. I don’t think any rational person imagined the Eagles would be in this position right now.

        • Brian

          I have been irrational before, and I’ll be irrational again. 10-6 seems attainable now.

  • BlindChow

    I think it’s because Foles runs slow.

    • Andy124

      Definitely.

  • Maggie

    Just a thought. How much did the Seahawks score in the second half on Monday night?

    • Andy124

      7.
      Same as the Eagles. :)

    • anon

      7. But how many points did they give up in the second half.

  • miketd1

    We need to throw more in order to keep the defenses from stacking the box and selling out on the run. My adjustment: (In the 4th) If we are up 1-8 pts, run conservative offense on our half, normal on their half (passing game is risk vs. reward). 8-10 pts, run normal offense on our half, conservative on their half (play for FG, 2 score game). 11-17 normal offense until 4 min mark, then go conservative (go for knockout). 18+, conservative offense on our half, normal on their half (passing game is risk vs. reward, play field position game).

  • Scott J

    Forget about the clock. Keep the pedal to the metal.