1. John Harbaugh recently chronicled his entire workweek in an ESPN The Magazine feature. Harbaugh noted that he spent three nights a week on the office couch at the team facility.
“Sleeping at the office is about maximizing my time,” Harbaugh said. “I can get more done if I eliminate time I’d spend driving home. Plus, if I come home too late, chances are I’ll wake up my wife.”
So, what about Kelly? Does he sleep over at the NovaCare Complex?
“Oh no, Chip doesn’t spend the night here,” said tight ends coach Ted Williams.
Williams is in his 19th season with the Eagles. He previously coached under Andy Reid and Ray Rhodes. Reid, he said, would spend nights at the team facility.
“When people do that, they do it for one of two reasons,” Williams said. “First of all, they want to. If you’re gonna spend the night here, that’s because you want to. The other part is you could get caught up in trying to do too much. And most coaches will tell you this: You get your job done, you finish your work, leave. Because life goes on. You can’t live your life 24 hours a day doing the same thing day after day after day. It’ll kill you, in my opinion.”
As for his overall time spent at the team facility, Williams said it’s not really any different with Kelly than it was with Reid.
“You can slice it up any way you want to,” Williams said. “It really ends up being the same amount of hours. It’s just packaged different. We do it a little more fast-paced here than I’m used to. But at the end of the day, it’s the same amount of time.”
2. There’s been a lot of talk this week about how Brent Celek and Riley Cooper low-fived in the end zone on Celek’s touchdown against the Cardinals.
Earlier in the week, Celek said: “We were just high-fiving saying, ‘good luck on the other side’ type of thing. We high-five on all those all the time.
“It’s kind of part of that play, gotta give him a high-five on the way to the route. Good luck on the other side.”
Today, Kelly added: “They like each other.”
The Eagles were using the mesh concept. Back in the day, 10-year-old Sheil called this one “cris-cross” when he was playing football in the neighbor’s yard.
The idea is simple: When the defense is in man coverage, two receivers run crossing routes, create some traffic, and hopefully one runs free. So why the low-five?
“So there’s no defender that can come in between ‘em,” explained Zach Ertz.
Apparently it’s as simple as that. The two players want to maintain spacing so that they don’t run into each other, but they want to be close enough so that a defender has a tough time sneaking through.
3. Earlier this week we looked at a new wrinkle the Eagles added to their running game.
But Kelly and his staff instituted some other tweaks too during the bye. One of the team’s popular packaged plays that they’ve been running since Week 1 combines a run option with a pop pass to the tight end and a WR screen. Here’s the look from the Tampa Bay game.
You can see above that the Eagles had three receivers to the left. Nick Foles had the option to hand the ball off, throw the pop pass to the tight end or throw the screen to the perimeter. The outside receiver to the top of the screen serves as a blocker.
But against the Cardinals, the Eagles changed it up a little. All three receivers run pass routes. Cooper has a 5-yard hitch. Jason Avant runs a slant instead of a screen. DeSean Jackson, the inside receiver, still runs up the seam.
Foles reads linebacker Daryl Washington. If he cheats up to stop the run, Foles can pull the ball and pass it. If he stays at home, Foles can hand it off.
The guess is the change in the role of the middle receiver is to maintain a degree of unpredictability. Teams have plenty of tape on the Eagles, and the Birds run a lot of the same concepts on a weekly basis. Here, if safety Rashad Johnson cheats up to lay a hit on Jackson, the slant to Avant would give the Eagles another option.
As it turned out, Washington stayed at home, and Foles handed the ball off for a 6-yard gain.
I asked Avant when he turns into a blocker on this play.
“When you see him have the ball in his hands,” he said. “You don’t know if you’re gonna get it or if he’s gonna get it.
“We try to put in new stuff every now and again.”
Update: Friend of the blog Coach Flinn provided some additional insight on this play.
@SheilKapadia Nice change up with Seam by #3 & Slant by #2 • Puts MLB in different type of conflict but attacks the same area
— Brian Flinn (@Coach_Flinn) December 6, 2013
@SheilKapadia Mike LB has to play shotgun run, seam route from the TE right at him & then Slant coming from the Slot all in the same play
— Brian Flinn (@Coach_Flinn) December 6, 2013