All-22: Kelly, Offense Turn To Sweep

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The Eagles’ offense took the field with 11:46 left against the Cowboys in need of a serious boost.

Chip Kelly’s squad had come up empty on six of its previous seven possessions and clung to a 17-16 lead with the division on the line. So Kelly leaned on what the offense does best: running the football.


The Eagles put together an 11-play, 60-yard drive that resulted in a 6-yard Bryce Brown touchdown. Nine of the 11 plays were runs. And one run in particular gave the Eagles a boost: a new sweep play from an unbalanced line that was just installed during the week, according to players.

Kelly has tweaked the running game throughout the season - most significantly adding the split zone during the bye. The play called for a tight end to block the backside edge defender, rather than having Nick Foles account for the defender with his legs.

Against Dallas, Kelly sought a perimeter run to take advantage of defenses that geared up to stop the split zone and the inside zone, the Eagles' bread and butter. While the offense ran the ball pretty effectively throughout the game against Dallas, the Cowboys had some success honing in on the inside runs and stopping LeSean McCoy and Brown.

"Sometimes they were stuffing the inside zone, so we had to kind of hit it outside and just give ‘em different looks," said right tackle Lane Johnson. "That’s what we did the second half."

Added Brown: "You’ve gotta be versatile. You’ve gotta be able to change it up, mix it up, keep the defense off-balance."

On the 11-play drive, the Eagles ran this particular sweep play three times for 19 yards. Overall, they ran it six times for 32 yards against Dallas.

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The first thing you'll notice is Johnson lined up in between Jason Peters and Evan Mathis on the left side. The Eagles have used the unbalanced line or "tackle-over" look all season long.

When the ball's snapped, Peters takes on the defensive end, and Johnson blocks down on the defensive tackle. Jason Kelce blocks down on the other defensive tackle, while Mathis and Todd Herremans pull.

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The other key element is James Casey, who has a tight split to the left. His job is to take out a Cowboys linebacker who is pursuing the ball-carrier.

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"That was a play that we had game-planned all week," Kelce said. "It allowed the outside receiver/tight end to come in and crack the inside ‘backer, kind of puts a wall on the defense."

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Peters escorts the defensive end downfield, Casey cracks down on the linebacker (with some help from Herremans), and Mathis gets out in space.

"I pull on that one, and my role is usually to block the widest defender," Mathis said. "And if everything else is taken care of, you usually get some pretty good lanes on that play.

"We run a lot of inside zone. To have the ability to take it really wide like that is good to have that kind of changeup."

The result on this play was an 8-yard gain.

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The Eagles came back to the sweep on Brown's 6-yard touchdown.

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One difference on this one. Instead of blocking the defensive end, Peters goes right for the safety. That means Mathis is charged with pulling and taking care of the end.

Meanwhile, Casey once again cracks down on the linebacker. Below is a better shot of where Casey and Peters are headed. This is a packaged play as well (or at least has the appearance of one). The Eagles have a screen set up to DeSean Jackson at the bottom of the screen with Riley Cooper stationed as a blocker.

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One more item to note: Take a look at how the middle linebacker cheats over to his right. Kelce is not usually pulling on this play, but on the TD run, he had to.

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"It wasn’t designed for me to pull," Kelce said. "The one time I did pull is because the backer who me and the backside guard were going to was so far pushed front-side that I had to pull in order to get him. I actually didn’t end up making it. I got caught by Evan."

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You see what Kelce means. Mathis gets pushed back into Kelce, who's pulling as week. In the above frame, it looks like the linebacker has a good angle to Brown.

But it's Casey to the rescue. He blocks his man into the linebacker and takes out two defenders.

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The defensive back wants nothing to do with Peters, and Brown has a clear path to the end zone.

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"I think what James has added to us, especially here down the stretch, and we know in December, now going into January, you're going to have to run the football," Kelly said. "I think James has been a big, big part of that."

If the Eagles want to make noise in the playoffs, the run game will have to continue to lead the way, and new wrinkles continue to be added.

"You have to have other runs," Kelce said. "Teams, like especially last week, that are trying to stop that inside running game, the ends are playing really hard inside, making it tough for [Brent] Celek and the tight ends to cut ‘em off. So you start to get some of those outside plays, it makes the defense play a little bit more honest."

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Thanks to the always helpful Chris Brown for the heads-up on the play above.

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Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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  • Will

    …Nice Sheil…Chip should have a few more wrinkles this week as well…

    • Always Hopeful

      Never thought I’d look forward to wrinkles every week :-)

      • Brian

        Reminds me of a punchline to a joke, involving an old couple…

  • Richard Colton

    “Instead of blocking the defensive end, Peters goes right for the safety.” – you almost feel bad for the safety

    • Mr. Wu

      I would imagine he had to change his drawers after that play

  • Mr. Wu

    Sheil,
    Thanks another great breakdown. Now turn off your damned computer and go spend the holiday with you family.

    Signed
    Birds24/7 nation

  • Scott J

    Casey’s been doing a lot of blocking so defenses don’t see him as a scoring threat. I bet Chip will design a couple of plays where he’ll be wide open in the end zone. Maybe Saturday night?

    • GEAGLE

      Very well could be, especially facing Safeties and LB’s that struggle in coverage..Casey has been HUGE

    • OregonDucker

      Yep, this is the Chip way – constantly show a “tendency” then hit ‘em with a variation that scores a TD. He loved to do this to Harbaugh – frustrated the heck out of him.

  • Andy

    James Casey has done a great job blocking since the bye. Good work James.

  • G_WallyHunter

    does anyone else feel like they’re dreaming or something reading over these All-22s, I’ve said this before but my golly these concepts are crazy creative. Almost gives you butterflies reading it.

    Jeeze was Lurie ever spot on here, him and Howie worked their asses off, keeping that line in the water tryin to catch the biggest musky of them all, and he finally bit. Now us fans are looking at (probably, arguably) the smartest offensive (pretty much overall) coach in the league. I don’t care if it’s only his first year, it is evident that he’s got a step on most.

    Easy for me (us) as a fan to say that, most of us are homers (Geagle, hehe), but I’d put money on many others with different rooting interests claiming the same thing, this guy is a GENIUS. THANKS FOOTBALL LORDS
    Now just bring on the -13 degree weather and make Brees and his 6 feet and small hands PAY!!!!

    • GEAGLE

      Yesterday I heard that Howie was really responsible for landing Chip….Chip was actually said to be leaning towards Cleveland initially and Howie really was instrumental in landing Chip…..awesome reporting Laconfora

      FYI, I’m not a homer I’m a prophet :)

      • Max Lightfoot

        So glad that Chip didn’t go to Cleveland and work for that idiotic Joe Banner. That place is a career crusher for certain. I admit that at the time I favored Gus Johnson (DO YOUR JOB!!!!!!), but Chip has proven to be an outstanding choice. Go Eags!

        • GEAGLE

          I was team GUs as well….so glad Howie knew better

          • Always Hopeful

            I think Gus is going to be alright too. It’ll be interesting seeing how their careers develop. Chip obviously landed in the better place to start, but I think Gus will be good if they give him time.

          • Maggie

            I think Chip’s most important moves were the choosing of assistants and co-ordinators.

          • Always Hopeful

            He’s made very good choices, like AR in ’99. Chip also had more “goods in the cupboard” than Gus did.

          • UKEagle99

            Yet Billy D and Pat Shurmur were frowned upon by most. Azz, Minter & co were pew pewd for being mainly college coaches… My point? When the hires were made, no-one was doing cartwheels, they wanted NFL names!

          • Max Lightfoot

            Absolutely!

          • Max Lightfoot

            I agree – they seemed to play with more spirit at the end. Gus will have a tremendous defense there in short order, I believe.

        • Will

          I was rooting for Chip, anyone Bill Belchek is taking notes from is worthy of a HC job. That website Ducks.com sold me on Chip…It’s simply amazing the turn around in this club in 8 months…Remarkable….Just like AR said ” Sometimes change is good”… Howie struck Gold with his choice of HC no doubt…

      • Token

        As a general rule, dont believe anything that guy says. Chip was never going to Cleveland. Hes not a moron.

      • Adam

        That’s damage control by Banner. He’s got LaCornhole-a in his back pocket

    • OregonDucker

      Yeah, I finally talked Chip into taking the job. Andy’s call was icing on the cake. ;-)

  • addicted2mula

    Its crazy how this year they have more passing yards than any time with AR heaving passing ass

    • GEAGLE

      Remember when Vick first got hurt, nIck played well but Chip said Vick would still be the starter when he got healthy? But Chip said sure if FOles goes 100 out of 100 and throws 27 TDs he can win the job…Ironically how many TDs did FOles finish the year with?…….27!!!

      • Brian

        Ironically, I’m hoping for 100 out of 100 and 27 tds on Saturday night.

  • Dave

    On that picture of the td run where Jackson is lined up behind cooper…it looks like there could be a hot route read where foles throws a quick slant to djax as cooper blocks down. The safetyooks like he may be able to make a play in this alignment. But if he were cheating towards the middle…it looks like it could work. Is this something that could possibly be designed? And if not, is it something foles could eventually evolve into…making that hot read…like I’ve seen manning etc do countless times.

    Thoughts?

    • Brian

      It depends on Foles being able to master reading the defense while he’s at the line. Considering that this is his first season in this offense, based on the results, I’d say it’s very possible.

    • JJSki

      Cant hit the slant if Cooper blocks, they’ll get flagged for having a blocker downfield.

  • theycallmerob

    Boy, remember when people (myself included) thought Casey was a huge waste of money because he didn’t catch passes for a few games? Glad Chip was right about that, too.
    not everyone is going to be a superstar. WRs and TEs that have to block, RB running decoys, QB making sure to execute the fake everytime after a handoff….these are the things that help win championships. I love it.

    • Brian

      The devil is in the details, right? In Chip I Trust. Although I’ve been on board for some time, I’m still impressed by Chip’s ability to redesign plays on a steady basis. Not to mention the fact that he can convey these changes to the team and have them executed properly during the heat of the battle. I was a Reid believer, as well, but this is different in so many ways.

  • dave H

    Jason Avant quoted as saying “we never used to practice run plays” !! OMG I HATE FAT ANDY EVEN MORE THAN EVER

  • BostonianEagle

    Best way to do the plays are like this site: http://nflspinzone.com/2014/01/02/philadelphia-eagles-vs-dallas-cowboys-22-film-review/ The gifs are nice because they aren’t huge, but at the same time it does a better job at showing you the play.