With two minutes left in Sunday’s game, Chip Kelly put the decision-making power in Nick Foles’ hands.
The offense had called 14 straight run plays. But after Bryce Brown got dropped for a 2-yard loss, the Eagles faced a 4th-and-12. They had the game in hand (up 34-20), but a turnover on downs would have given the Lions at least a slim chance of scoring, kicking an onside kick and scoring again.
The call, like many others in the Eagles’ playbook, gave the quarterback options. He would have to read a key defender and then make a decision post-snap.
Here’s the initial look.
The read-player is safety Glover Quin. Foles knows pre-snap that if Quin inches up, Celek will be wide open. If Quin hangs back, Foles hands the ball off to Chris Polk.
“I had seen what they were doing the previous plays we were in that formation,” Foles said. “The safety was playing on me so if I was pulling it, he was coming off. And that’s what a lot of teams like to do. That way they can account for everyone. So if he did that once again, I felt like if he came down, it was really Brent blocking on the D-End and trying to get up.”
Here’s a look from the other angle.
Foles takes the snap, and the defense reads run all the way. Why? Because the offense is blocking run all the way. It’s not a matter of selling it, either. All that the linemen know on this play is they’re blocking run. It’s up to Foles to pull the ball if he wants to. Even Celek is blocking the backside defensive end.
You can see Quin has his eyes on Foles in case he pulls it.
“The look was the look I had seen over and over again previously in the game,” Foles said. “They didn’t have a safety over the top over Brent to where it could really take away the play, so I just really tried to stretch the read and read the safety. He came down hard on the run and then I just let Brent go get it.”
Foles did a great job selling the handoff. Celek released from his initial block and went out into his route.
“It was a play where if they were gonna bite after I blocked the end, then I was gonna take off and Nick was gonna throw it to me,” Celek said. “As soon as I saw that safety bite and I hit the end, I knew we had it so I took off. And he threw the easiest ball ever to catch. And then I slid. I knew the game was over at that point.”
Added Kelly: “It was just a read play. If he had Brent he would take it. If not he could hand it off.”
The Eagles try to add in wrinkles to keep the defense honest – especially in situations where opponents are expecting them to run the ball.
“They’ll be aware of that from now on so they might let that safety linger a little more just in case Brent does release,” Foles said. “But that’s where you gameplan for those situations. You try to add something that they necessarily haven’t seen so it gives you options in that situation to really ice the game.”