All-22: Adjusting the Offense For Foles


Before the Cardinals game, when asked about the read-option offense, Chip Kelly took exception with the label.

“I don’t think it’s an offense,” he said, while also pointing out that the Eagles use the zone read, not the read option. “I think it’s a play.”

That distinction has been clear in the Eagles’ two games since the bye. The principle of using the quarterback’s legs to account for an unblocked defender has not been a major factor in wins over Arizona and Detroit.

By my count, the Eagles have used the zone read (or zone-read look; sometimes it’s a straight handoff regardless) on 13 of 141 plays the last two weeks. That’s about 9.2 percent of the time. Through the first eight weeks of the season, that number was 31.4 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

There are many elements at work here. A major one last week was that the Eagles played a lot more under center than they usually do because of the weather. On those plays, Nick Foles turned his back to the line of scrimmage, meaning there was no zone-read. But the week before against Arizona, the Eagles only used the zone read on seven of 73 plays, or 9.6 percent of the time.

The theory here – and we’ll see if this bears itself out in the coming weeks – is that the bye gave Kelly and his staff time to tweak the run game to better suit Foles. The idea of playing option football is still relevant, but because teams were so often crashing down their unblocked defenders on LeSean McCoy, the Eagles were forced to adjust in a variety of ways.

[Editor’s note: For the first time, I’m trying out GIFs here instead of straight screen-grabs. Advice/suggestions/feedback are welcome.]

One thing the Eagles are doing is using a tight end to account for the previously unblocked defender. For example, on this fourth-quarter run, Brent Celek is set up in-line and blocks the defensive end. Rather than Foles read the defender, the Eagles just block him with the tight end so he can’t crash in on McCoy and force the QB to keep the ball.

Celek - Eagles on Make A Gif

The Lions’ plan for defending the zone read was to use safety Glover Quin to account for Foles. Here, you see Foles carries out his fake, Quin is slow to react to McCoy, and the result is a 6-yard run.

“It’s huge,” Kelly said when asked about the importance of the tight ends in the run game. “Just because a lot of our plays are cutback plays. If the defense is flowing and we get him moving in one direction, LeSean has the ability or Bryce [Brown] to cut the ball back, but that means what really didn’t start at the point of attack ends up being the point of attack.”


The sift block, which we wrote about at length last week, was also on display against Detroit. James Casey has quietly been on the field for 34 snaps the last two weeks. He only averaged 5.7 offensive snaps per game before the bye. But the Eagles have recently taken advantage of his run-blocking experience.

Here, Casey sets up on the right side. The Eagles initially leave safety Louis Delmas unblocked on the opposite side. But Casey comes across the formation and takes him out.

Casey sift block - Eagles on Make A Gif

The Lions were defending the zone read with the scrape technique here. In theory, Delmas would crash in on McCoy, and Quin would follow behind him to account for Foles. But in reality, this was not a zone-read play. Casey’s block ruins the Lions’ plan.

Quin, meanwhile, still is accounting for Foles. By the time Polk hits the hole and breaks a tackle, Quin is in no position to help on the ball-carrier. The result is a 38-yard TD.

“Basically what it is is just a cut-off block on the run,” said tight ends coach Ted Williams. “And so consequently you can either line up over them and cut them off, which sometimes is very difficult. Or you can put them on the other side and just bring them back, which makes it a little simpler and adds an element of surprise to it.”


And then there are the packaged plays. We wrote about one of them earlier this week. But the Eagles continue to give Foles a lot of passing options if the run isn’t there.


On this fourth-quarter play, Foles can either hand it off or hit either of his two outside receivers. Riley Cooper runs a hitch at the top of the screen. Brad Smith basically turns and faces the QB when the ball is snapped. You can see both corners are playing off.


Eight of the 11 players on this call are blocking run. Foles, Smith and Cooper are the only exceptions.

Foles pulls the ball and finds Smith, who does a good job one-on-one against the corner and picks up 13 yards.



Here’s another example of Foles being given options when he pulls the ball. On a two-point conversion attempt in the fourth, DeSean Jackson goes in motion behind Foles. The Eagles leave an edge defender unblocked. Foles can either hand it off to Bryce Brown or hit Jackson at the top of the screen if he pulls it.

DeSean Jackson on Make A Gif

Foles ends up handing the ball off to Brown. But look at how many defenders are accounting for Jackson and Foles.


The motion and different options pull three defenders away from the play. There was another corner accounting for Cooper, meaning the Eagles were blocking 7-on-7 on the run, which scored.


It’s tough to tell what’s game-plan-related and what’s weather-related. But since the bye, we’re seeing less zone-read and more options for Foles when he decides to pull the ball.

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  • Adam

    Hey Sheil, love the attempted at the .gif’s but they’re giving me motion sickness, haha. I personally prefer just the still images.

    edit: also some are broken it seems

    • ftotheyu

      Me too, I prefer the still pictures as well. Or maybe put in more frames in constructing the .gif so it doesn’t jump as much.

    • macadood

      I think stills + the gifs is perfect in combination. But yea, the gifs appear to need more frames in them because it’s a bit choppy as is.

      I think Chip Wagon started doing some gif things and they were just using video of the play converted to gif I believe, so it flowed smoothly and you can see the play develop real time, in addition to the key moment screencaps.

  • Rambler

    Just when I thought your analysis could not get any better, you start mixing in some GIFs. I think they definitely help see the development of plays. Maybe just a mix of half and half would be ideal. But please Sheil… no more improvements to your analysis. We do not want to lose you to some awful national sports machine entity.

  • cloisterwater

    I prefer the still shots as well. The gifs move too fast to really analize what’s taking place or on what image the play begins. It was worth a try though. Thanks.

  • Andy

    I like the idea of the gifs but they may be moving too fast and/or too rough. Maybe do a traditional post where you lay out what is going on in stills and then “put it all together” in a gif afterwards so we can see the play unfold after we already have an idea of what is going on/what to look for. Just a suggestion.

    • Cyrus Robinson

      I think that would be best. Stills showing the critical moments in the play, like the ones Sheil put in the GIFs, followed by a GIF showing the play in its entirety.

      • GEAGLE

        Yeah the stills really made it great..if you are married to keeping the GIF, keep it in addition to the stills PLEASE!

    • mtn_green

      Agreed stills then gifs. The gifs don’t need any labeling or modification, if reader gets lost they can look at the stills. Derek Sarley had a hard time with the plays from the beginning of the game as you couldn’t see the numbers it was hilarious.

    • DirtyWaters

      I would comment on this but my epilepsy started acting up watching the gif.

    • EricT

      The GIFs are about 1 second each. I would make them 2-3 seconds each minimum so the reader can absorb the content. In a pic, I tend to look at most players at every position on both sides to see how the play really develops and all that is involved. 1 second per pic is simply not enough time to absorb all that’s happening. Stills work well enough.

      I think the next better option would be slow motion replay. Don’t know if you have permission to do that or if it must be done manually with a series of screenshots pulled together into a short film.

      • Corey Dawson

        I think the slow motion replay would be more effective as well, which can be done in a gif with a series of more images and shorter time increments. This takes longer to make since there are more images to put into it, as well as more lines to draw. The hard part is all the lines and arrows, and figuring out how to make them flow well during a gif that is essentially a slowed down video. Due to this, it might be time prohibitive.
        For the current approach, I agree with the above posters that the time increment on the gifs is too fast. I’d double it.

        • Corey Dawson

          Another thought: The slow motion gif video could work well if you make it so you go through some “slow motion” with a bunch of shots and small increments, then freeze it for 2 seconds or so with the arrows, like in the shots above, in order to get the arrows in and show your point. Then, continue another 2 seconds in slow motion, or however long you need to go to make your next point. What I’m essentially saying is adding say a few frames at what amounts to 1/2 or 1/4 speed between the types of shots you have within the gifs above to make them flow better between shots. The hard part right now is tracking players between screen caps, and this would improve that.

  • usmcnole

    I agree with everyone else about the gifs…hurt a little bit. But the analyis and this offense are both really awesome

  • TBS

    I love your All-22 breakdowns. I think I prefer the stills over the gifs. I can spend more time looking at each player’s assignment. Keep up the great work.

  • cloisterwater

    Oh, and I agree with everyone else on the analysis. Nobody online breaks down plays better than your all-22. Keep up the good work!

  • BostonianEagle

    Gifs are nice, but only when there is a flow to it. When it is so jagged and quick, it is hard to follow the play, especially considering the players are moving and I spend quite a bit of time figuring out where each player went. So either make the gifs a little larger (but not too large, because sometimes I like to read on my phone) by having more frames in there, or just slow down the movement a bit.

    • Broadcasting Wisdom

      Agreed with this.

  • Jay

    The GIFs are too choppy especially and then u have to figure out which is first and if you miss something wait until it comes back around…

  • Will

    [URL=][IMG][/IMG][/URL] A QB’s Best Friend…

  • Will


  • Joe from Easton

    I love these articles, but I’m not a fan of the GIF’s. I really enjoy breaking down the still images; judging how much ground players cover to reach their assignments and clearly seeing they’re technique in play. GIF’s are great for a highlight here or there, though. Just my humble opinion.

  • BlindChow

    One thing that might help with the gifs (assuming you don’t want to include too many more frames) is consistency in labeling and colors. Maybe leaving the players’ names on each frame would help sort out who is who, and if you use arrows, use them on each frame and make sure the color doesn’t change mid-gif.

    It does look like you did this on the last gif, so maybe you had the same ideas.

    Anyway, terrific analysis as usual. It’s great that in using the scrape exchange, the Lions allow Foles to “block” a defender, removing him from the play and letting McCoy burn them, without even needing Foles to actually run.

  • Will

    [URL=][IMG][/IMG][/URL] QB’s best friend a great run game…

  • Colin

    So just when the defense thinks Kelly is throwing rock he moves to scissors. Good sign that this isn’t the wildcat part two, no matter what Bruce Arians thinks.

    Nice job (as usual) Sheil.

  • Matty Boy

    I like the idea of gifs. But, I honestly like the stills a lot; they let you stop and see everything and how it develops frame to frame. As others said, keeping consistent labeling (colors, names) will help clarify the gifs. If they’re a lot more work than the stills, I would say it’s not really worth it, but that’s only my opinion. Is there any feasible way to make the gifs click-to-play? This would allow us to slow things down, and not be distracted by moving pictures while reading the analysis.

    Good analysis as always, and feel free to keep trying new things!


    Sorry, but the he GIFs ruin all your great work this case less is more and I’m really hoping you go back to the pics..thanks SK for constantly BRINGING IT!

    Back when all the idiots thought FOles can’t play for Chip, I warned that they were wrong and Chip could tweet his run game to make it a little more pro style if FOles comes in, and this is exactly what I was talking about…Nick FOles was in the game! and shady inside zoned his way to his highest run total of the season and the history of the franchise. To say that Chip Kelly couldn’t coach without a QB who was fast was the most disrespectful piece of garbage I can remember reading. Now people understand our coach is no stubborn egomaniac who is a product of some system…he is a brilliantly well rounded ball coach who will constantly morph this team to not only his personel, but also to the weakness’s of our weekly opponents
    People expected him to be this ego maniac who only cared about proving his system to the NFL..what a bunch of garbage that turned out to be…this man wants to win games, and preaches versatility yet was pigeon holes as this stubborn egomaniac who was basically the product of a certain system….boy were people wrong. Chip is a well versed winner and equal opportunity ASS whooper and HEAD Busta!!!

    • OregonDucker

      Good post GEAGLE. I think it is really important to emphasize the contributions made by the assistant coaches. Look at the Nate turnaround. How about the aggression and finesse of the DL. And Coop – what the hell?! You know, even if Chip slips on play calling, he has assistants that can help him correct the scheme and correct player execution.

      The Eagles are a scary team. No one, and I mean no one, wants to play them in the playoffs. Both Harbaugh and Carroll know Chip. They don’t want any part of his game.

      • cliff henny

        corection…Both Harbaugh and Carroll have been blown out by Chip.

      • GEAGLE

        Damn right brother ducker…interesting coop talked about how much playin centerfielder helped him track balls as a WR. He says, he always suggesting to just hit fly balls to our punt returners…

        Cary had some awesome comments talking about staying focused
        Ducker I thought you Oregon fans who followed Chip across the country to philly were crazy. Now I see you guys as crazy like a fox. Wise Wise men you Oregon fans proved to be…With the quality football Chip provides..I now, GET IT!!!

  • jabostick

    I like GIF’s when they play back as a video but those take a really long time to load. I’d agree with most here that, if the option is the 3-4 frame choppy GIF, the return doesn’t match the investment

  • Stuart Philp

    Would prefer smooth gifs instead of the stitched stills, but it does help see the play develop!

  • OldDocRoss

    Yeah, more a fan of the stills myself because they give you the time to see everything develop better. I guess you could have the stills then a link to the complete GIF for those who want to see the play unfold but I’m not sure they add enough value to warrant the effort.

    Either way, awesome work as always.

  • morgan c

    I liked the idea of GIFs in theory and appreciate the responsiveness. But in reality, they are harder to decipher. Especially the Casey block – impossible to follow. Video would probably be ideal, but pics are better than GIFs. Thanks.

  • poetx99

    stills, FTW. i definitely understand what you’re trying to do, but, as others have stated, the best way to accomplish that is to have the stills, as you’ve already been doing (and mastered, i might add), and THEN, for a few plays, complement that with a gif of the entire play (sans highlighting, unless you are using a telestrator type app which allows you to mark up the video).

    I know that this means more work for you. you already have the stills, marked up. the problem is that just piecing them together is very choppy and disconcerting. it would be less so, without the appearing and disappearing squares and arrows, but it would still be weird.

    there are apps that will allow you, of course, to create a gif straight from the video. and, likewise, there are a few that will even allow you to markup video (at worst, you’d do that, then convert to gif if you felt a certain play required dynamic markup).

    you continue to do a fantastic job, and i really appreciate that you did some self-scouting and came back with some new wrinkles after the bye, also.

  • skapadia

    Thanks for all the feedback. I think stills to show what’s happening and the GIF at the end is probably my best bet. Will try that out next time. -SK

    • chipologist

      U guys should do a breakdown of the defense in all of the categories and add some new to show how high we can climb in the ranks or just simply how much of a difference one yr made, something……I love this defense, they are badd of turnovers and the offense was tailor made to benefit a defense as long as u have to force the opposing offense to pass by making the chance u in the race to 40-50 points, that alone puts pressure on their QB. Great work guys!!!

    • dislikedisqus

      You have made a really awesome site.

    • Stay Classy, Philadelphia

      Not sure how he does (did) it, but Derek Sarley had started adding some pretty slick animations (HTML5, perhaps?) over at his blog:

      Perhaps you could do something along those lines.

  • Love the fact that they are mixing it up using Desean in motion there are so many options with Djax to not just utilize his speed for deep routes but now for now dump offs out of the back field and on bubble screens. He makes for a great decoy as well!

    • cliff henny

      it was a shame how Reid used d-jax by the end. i knew where jax was going to be from my couch 700 miles away, sure dc had a pretty good idea, too.

      • Exactly! With a guy who is a burner(quick step) utilizing Djax to move the chains on short routes is a nice little added wrinkle. He at least keeps the defense honest. Yea Andy got incredibly predictable at the end Cliff!

        • GEAGLE

          Not just Desean! but imagine the career Westbrook could have had in this system..I know what a west coast offense is, I know it’s a passing league, but Reid’s use of the run game! or shall I say lack there of, was almost as criminally negligent as what he did to our organization in terms of coaching staff and personel..

          If I think about it enough, I can probably shed tears of Joy because we finally run the ball, and play defense..
          Celek was asked about his improved blocking and he said his weight also has a lot to do with it. when he was having 70 catch seasons and ALWAYS running pass routes it was harder for him to keep on weight and he would get down to low 240’s at times playing for Reid..He acknowledges improvement in is technique but he says a lot of it has to do with not always running routes like he would under Reid:
          “In a west coast offense, short passes is your run game. NOW, our Run Game, is OUR RUN GAME(while he gives Spadaro this look that says we will punch you in your mouth and stamped you NOW)”… much to be happy about, but to have a coach that believes in running the ball is like a GIFT for having to endure these past 14 years of heartbreak!

    • Corey Dawson

      Watching the first few plays of the game, I think this was a major part of the gameplan going in, utlizing him in different ways. The snow made them put a lot of it on the backburner for another day. Next time they face a team with whatever they were trying to exploit there, we’ll see it again.

  • Will

    This was just great to see live… just when you think you got Shady he’s gone…

    • Will

      This is a side shot to really appreciate Shady’s move…and off to the races for a TD…

  • Soybot

    love the gifs. you have to watch them cycle a couple of times to really grasp the concept, but for me it’s far easier than scrolling down and looking at multiple pictures.

  • jon h

    I prefer the stills.

  • southy

    Great example of the defense outsmarting itself. Accounting for Foles with a safety is a terrible idea. If the LBs get caught up in the wash, McCoy takes it to the house because you wanted to make sure Foles would be accounted for.


    Man, I don’t think Kendricks is getting the props he deserves. Since the raiders game he has really grown into this scheme. I’m so excited to see him this time next year. I know fans question him…but I’m as close to CONVINCED as one can realistically be that he is going to be really good player for us. When can we offer him an extension? I hope We can extend him before he really comes into his own so we can avoid another Cooper situation. I totally get why we didn’t extend him before, but it’s proving costly. I don’t think he will hold our feet to the fire financially, but we could have gotten him so much cheaper had we extended him a year ago..but considering his play at the time and the inevitable coaching change that was in our immediate future, you totally get why he wasn’t extended and it’s hard to really call it a mistake

    • cliff henny

      good questions, been so long since they’ve extended a 2nd rounder. know he’s signed thru 2015. think it’s just 1st that have the 5th yr option teams pick up after 3rd yr.

      • GEAGLE

        RIGHT when the hell do we get to extend 2nd rounders? And Desean doesn’t count because we still had dirty banner mentality when it came to treating him…I should know the answer to this question with all the talk about Wilson being underpaid and not being able to extend him yet, but I’m drawing a blank. If we can’t extend him til after next season, it’s gonna cost us lol…Ideally we could extend him next September, but I doubt that’s possible.

        • cliff henny

          after 3rd yr, but it would be an extension, he’d play the 4th yr 3.25m. they can give signing bonus, but it’s a mandatory 4 yr contract.

          • GEAGLE

            Yeah we are screwed lol…before NEXT season ends, Mykal will prove to be a FORCE and a major major versatile weapon for cool ass Billy Dee…just seeing the difference in his play from early October to his past few games is staggering, and he isn’t even close to being the monster he is destined to become under the tutelage of coach Minter and Meco’s mentoring

          • cliff henny

            problem he’ll have is battling boykin cox and foles, maybe even curry, for money. good problem to have, but will slow down free agency signings. after this up-coming free agency period, should be quiet for couple years at least, busy re-igning our own studs.

          • GEAGLE

            Yes sir, which is exactly why I’m expecting some quality this free agency period. Under Lurie/banner/Howie, they ALWAYS added two TOP free agents every 3 years or so..Andy probably had like 3 different teams when he was here and our FO gave him star free agents for every one of his teams(4 year window)….you have to think they will get Kelly the serious FA help and NOW is the EXACT time to do it, when you already have a playoff foundation in place, leaders and a culture established..and like you said, if you don’t do it this year you won’t get a chance to when you are busy retaining all the studs our coaches will manufacture..that’s why when I look at the stars at our positions available on this years market, Byrd really stands out to me..if you don’t want to sign Byrd, but you want to sign the best at a position we need, your other choices are probably:
            Decker WR
            Jimmy Graham TE but saints probably do whatever it takes to keep him
            Lamar Houston DE
            BJ Raji NT/DE
            Orakpo OLB
            Verner CB

            Looking at that list, and who realistically won’t be retained by their current team, IF the eagles were to try to Add the BEST at a position of need this year, how would you list them in order from most likely realistic target, to least likely either us not being interested or their current team retaining them? My Guess would be:
            1) Byrd. 100% leaving Buffalo, and you can’t find a better compliment for Wolff
            2) I guess Orakpo. he has to be frustrated with the mess in Washington and they don’t have the best cap situation, hasn’t played great but I am confident we have the coaches to get a lot out of him
            3) Verner…young, shutdown stud that every team would love to add
            4) Decker..good Chip Kelly size to block, Hard for Denver to retain
            5) Raji because I don’t think Oakland will let lamarr Houston go
            6) lamarr
            7)’Jimmy Graham….no shot in hell that Drew Brees and Sean Peyton let him leave

            I persnally would kind of be surprised if we don’t target Byrd,Ward or Clemons at safety because safety has the most talent on this years market an and it’s a need… while at other positions there is a major drop off between the talent of the top guy avalable and the 2nd and 3rd guy on the market, but it’s nice to completely trust our decision makers and I would understand if they don’t make that splash because they trust so much in our young players and expect to have to extend so many of them

    • Andy124

      Good question. I want to say after his third season, but that might only apply to first round picks.

  • Scott J

    They move too fast.

    • cliff henny

      no matter how good writers tim and sheil are, even they cant slow the Eagles offense down

  • Scott J

    The media (mostly national) pigeon-holed Kelly as running only a read-option offense. Kelly said from the beginning he can adapt his offense to different defenses and his players skills. And he has.


    Today Nicky the Saint is humbly talking about “his burning desire to be great”..
    he “loves the days when he leaves Novacare knowing that him and the team got better that day”

    • Andy124

      you’re always talking about Foles saying this awesome thing and McCoy saying this awesome thing. Formally requesting you provide links to these awesomenesses all the time 70% of the time.

      • BlindChow

        GEAGLE’s creeping around outside the locker room with his ear up to an A/C vent.

        • Andy124

          Well he needs to bring his cell phone, stream it, archive it and link it.

  • Steve

    Kind of wanted to be able to pause the GIFs, which really just gets us back to stills. I think the still, still, still, GIF plan is probably a nice improvement, but if I had to choose between GIFs and stills, definitely picking stills.

  • Chip’s adVisor

    I’m all for the GIFs but these are terrible. I think you should at least try another round of higher quality GIFs and then put it to a vote. The poor quality has influenced the debate.

  • Steag209

    Prefer the GIFs, that way I don’t have to keep scrolling back and forth between the pictures to see the development of the play

  • Rico

    Here’s my suggestion for the gifs:

    Keep your still-frames where you circle key components of the play, but in between the still frames play the actual footage in slower-motion.

    So, basically it’s a gif of the game footage at a slower speed, with 3-second freeze frames where you point out the important parts of the play.