Three Thoughts On the Eagles’ Offense

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Below are three leftover thoughts on the Eagles’ offense.

1. The Jordan Matthews hype has reached epic levels recently. At this point, anything short of a 100/1,700/20 stat line may seem like a disappointment.




I hate being the cold water guy, but there are a few factors worth mentioning. Most relevant is the fact that rookie wide receivers historically have a tough time bursting onto the scene in their first year. In the past decade, four rookie wide receivers - Michael Clayton, A.J. Green, Keenan Allen and Marques Colston - have had 1,000-yard seasons. Five - Eddie Royal, Clayton, Allen, Dwayne Bowe and Colston - have had 70+ catches.

And there's this one from Brent Cohen of Eagles Rewind: 49 receivers have been taken in the second round since 2000 and played at least 10 games as rookies. Average receiving yards for that group has been 437.

All of those numbers are meant for context, and players buck trends all the time. But a really good season for Matthews would be replicating what Riley Cooper did last season, not DeSean Jackson.

During OTAs, Matthews has looked good. He gets open, he plays hard and he's been catching everything. Aside from the "they're in shorts" disclaimer, it's worth noting that pretty much all his reps have come with the second team and against the second-team defense.

I remember during draft time wondering why Matthews didn't go higher. He has size (6-3, 212), speed (4.46), production (was the SEC's all-time leading receiver) and is a high-character guy. That seems like the resume of a top-15 guy. What I saw/heard was that Matthews isn't particularly shifty. He's not going to be a make-you-miss player. And his timed speed didn't always show up on film.

Again, I like Matthews and think he will be productive, but I'm not ready to go all-in just yet.

2. I was thinking recently about how Chip Kelly might change the Eagles' offense in 2014. And the conclusion I came to was: He's unlikely to do anything dramatic. In fact, Kelly pretty much has said as much.

"We're going to run the same offense we ran when Nick [Foles] was in there last year," he said recently.

The tools are in place to do many of the same things. The ground game should once again be prolific with LeSean McCoy and a strong offensive line. The inside zone will be the Eagles' bread and butter, but they'll mix in other run plays depending on the week and the opponent. Assuming health, there's little reason to believe Kelly will make major changes with the running attack.

The biggest challenge will be maintaining the success with the downfield passing game now that DeSean Jackson is gone. A key phrase you're likely to hear a lot from Kelly is contested catches. He seems to believe it's not always about creating separation. When faced with man coverage and talented cornerbacks, wide receivers sometimes have to go up and get the football. That means leaping ability, toughness, body control and the ability to track the ball.

We'll see if those things can make up for the absence of elite speed that Jackson brought to the table.

3. We've written plenty about how Kelly's focus this offseason has been on beating man coverage. I asked Foles about that recently, and his answer revealed a lot about the coach's philosophy.

"That’ll be something we always work on, but we’re not just going to see man throughout the course of a game," Foles said. "We’re going to see quarters, quarter-halves, drop eight, zero blitz, they’re going to show us everything. The most important thing is understanding when this play is called, do I have an answer versus every coverage? What would I do? So therefore, if it does happen in the game versus that coverage, I’ve rehearsed this in my mind, I’ve got this and we have to execute like this."

That's one of the best descriptions of Kelly's offensive philosophy you'll see. Last year, Kelly dubbed the Eagles' attack the "see-coast offense." But really, what he hopes to implement is an "answer offense."

That means options for the quarterback depending on the look of the defense. It means limiting the number of times you run into unfavorable matchups and attacking the weakness of the opponent on a snap-by-snap basis.

The Eagles will work plenty this summer on beating man coverage, but Kelly's ultimate goal is to arm Foles with answers for every look he sees.

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  • Dominik

    One thought on the Eagles offense: go celebrate your records while they last, Denver.

    Just kidding. Or am I?

  • Bdawkbdawk

    Although I wish the hype would die down a bit, it’s nice that it has taken a lot of the early focus/pressure off of Marcus Smith and all the analysts talking about what a reach he was. Also, it seems like if anyone can keep a level head despite the hype, it’d be Mathews. I think I just hyped him more without even trying to – this is tricky.

    • Dominik

      ” I think I just hyped him more without even trying to – this is tricky.”

      Wait until Matthews comes home after practicing and curing cancer during the breaks.

      • http://themoranimal.wordpress.com WilmingtonDan

        Jordan Matthews will never take the last cookie in the jar

        • cliff henny

          Jordan Matthews has the Keebler elf’s cookie tree in his backyard

          • borntosuffer

            Jordan Matthews replaced Polk’s oreos with unsaturated fat, juice sweetened oatmeal raisin cookies.

          • NickS1

            sounds like something the creepy old man in family guy would have.

        • southy

          The Huls smoothies this year will get a boost from the addition of Jordan Matthews’ tears, if Huls can only figure out a way to make Matthews cry.

      • Matthew

        Jordan Matthews gave a sympathy lay to the girl that shady pushed off the bus.

        • Wilbert31

          That’s nothing. Heck, even I would have done that.

          • Dominik

            Are there pictures of her in the public? If not, you sure like to gamble, do you?

          • Wilbert31

            Haven’t seen her. Made an assumption based on my morals and the fact that she made it on the bus. Just playing the percentages…

          • Dominik

            Maybe she was the ugly chick who was on the bus because she’s the friend of a hot chick Shady’s nephew wanted to date, but who’d only come to the party if her friend can come, too. Maybe she was kicked out of the bus because Shady didn’t like what he saw.

            Thought about that, too, buddy?

          • Wilbert31

            After a thorough internal discussion with regard to your scenario, absolutely nothing has changed. Odds are that I still would provide the sympathy lay. Thanks for your high interest level in my sex life though. You have a sister?

          • Dominik

            I’m chatting with a girl from Thailand. She seems nice. Haven’t seen her naked, though. What could go wrong with that?

          • Wilbert31

            I can’t think of a single thing! Keep us updated on this as things progress…

          • Dominik

            I will. What could possibly be of greater interest to all those Eagles fans here?

      • PokkelAttleyuvu

        classmate’s aunt makes $68 every hour on the computer
        . She has been fired for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $15495 just
        working on the computer for a few hours. visit the site R­e­x­1­0­.­C­O­M­

  • NickS1

    Team Stream report came in saying the Sixers are trying to talk to CLE about trading up for the #1 pick to get Wiggins.

    • cliff henny

      cost? assuming 3rd and 10th. have no issue, Hinkie accummulated all these assets for a reason. if he wants a guy, go get’em. have all this cap too. Lakers sitting at #7, Nash’s contract is albotross, can eat that up. Sac wanted Thad, and they have couple bad contracts. and also Bulls, Boozer needs shipped to get Carmelo, think they have #16 and #19.

      • NickS1

        If it’s only 3rd and 10th, go nuts. I wouldn’t do it, personally, but that’s just me. I’d rather Parker at 3 and Early at 10, but I’ve been on that train for a while and I know many others disagree.

        • cliff henny

          that’s right, you are Parker guy. i havent budge off Wiggins, his game is made for Sixers.
          .
          if Hinkie wants Wiggins, thinks AW>>>JP, then dont risk hoping for a drop. other thing is, even if they give up 10th, odds are they’ll be adding another 7th-19th 1st due to Thad and eating a contract or 2. plus, MCW is raw, Noel hasnt stepped on a court, add Wiggins, Dinwiddle at #32 as shooting guard is almost alligned in the stars right now…mean, how many freaking raw rookies can play at 1 time? plus, sixers are going to semi-tank in ’15, way too young to know how to win games, and also wont give up 1st in terrible Moultrie trade. so figure another 6-8 pick in next yrs draft. it’s going to take some time, ’17 or ’18 till all this comes together (unless LeBron decides he wants to come to Philly and that has less chance than USA winning World Cup)

          • TOm W

            Hoping Wiggins falls to 3 and we package 10 and thad for 7 and nash from lakers to grab randle or gordon (wish for vonlah).

            Or holding out hope Bulls willing to trade 16 and boozer if they can’t trade up.

            I wouldn’t trade 10 for 16 and 19 …

            I would consider trading down w Jazz to 5 so they can get their fellow mormon Parker if they blew us away … starting w 5, first next year’s first (top 3 protected only) and a good young player. Depends how much hinkie loves Vonlah and what he thinks long term dropoff is from Parker to Vonlah.

            I expect an extra one or two ones from a salary dump w bulls or memphis OR faciliator first rounder for helping rockets trade asik/linn, or cap strapped team like the heat or okc flipping a first for one of our unguaranteed second rounders

            I would also consider trading MCW to the Magic for 4 if the bucks take Exum at 2 ……. two of Wiggins/Parker/Embiid would be amazing and my ideal scenario. Turn around at 10 and look at one of three pgs available or trade down at 10

          • cliff henny

            yeah, Hinkie and sixers are going to be mad busy, but ESPN will be shoving Love down our throats. think the only scenario i’ve seen that’ll bother me is trading 3rd to Jazz. after this last season, the painfullness it was, have to get Wiggins or Parker for me.
            .
            you’d move on from MCWs? think his defense will drive all these new PG lead teams nutz,and his offense will get more efficient once he stable caste around him.

      • shady25

        Don’t forget Sixers have multiple 2nd round picks as well. Might be able to keep #10 and give up 3rd pick and a 2nd round pick.

        • cliff henny

          nawh. that 32nd is equal to a 5th rdr in NFL. they maybe asking for 3rd 10th and Thad, and i’d still do that, in a 3-way that got sixers another 1st and ate some contracts. but, i really want Wiggins.
          .
          but yeah, they have 5 2nds total, 32, 39 then in 50’s i think. those 50’s equal about a 7th rdr.

          • shady25

            if they can figure out a way to give up the 3rd pick, 2nd rd pick and Thad I am all for it. Would love to have Wiggins. Even though I don’t like the way he ended his college career.

          • cliff henny

            slightly one sided there. Hinkie cant work miracles. plus, giving up Thad in non-3way trade wouldnt be good idea. his contract is needed to work out those other trades. Sixers are sitting with like 35m in cap space, and there’s a lot of crappy contracts out there and i want’em, and picks!

          • peteike

            no way in he.. they are giving up that 3 and 10 so its most likely just a feeler and checking all their options. Doubt it happens because like you said the 2nds arent getting that deal done either.

          • cliff henny

            agree, 3 and 10 is too much, 3 thad and 2nd not enough. think feeler is being nice,it’s probably horsedung, cause Hinkie hasnt leaked anything ever. his wife probably didnt even know she was pregnant till they were riding in ambulance to hospital.

  • Tikkit

    You can’t pump the brakes on the pope Sheil! If he doesn’t break every rookie record for EVERYTHING include D and ST I think he’s a bust!

    Edit: He also needs to save a lot of people from burning buildings. Super Pope for President!

    • Maggie

      All the DBs in the league better remember what “crossing (up) the Jordan” means! ;~)

  • Joe L

    I know this is an offensive article, but I’ve heard nothing about new defensive additions like Nolan Carroll, or even guys like Villanueva.

  • PhillySean

    When I hear Kelly talk about offensive strategy and tactics, it’s like listening to a master chess player after years of being bored by predictable games of checkers.

    • Tikkit

      Agreed. Chip doesn’t do a very good job a masking the “you’re an idiot” posture/tone.

      • JosephR2225

        This is the internet. I believe the correct phrase is “your an idiot”.

        • EagleDuck

          You just winned the internet with that one.

          • kleptolia

            Hey Brother.

  • myeaglescantwin

    How many of those WR’s were the SEC record setting WR’s that came from a team where there were no other threats to cover??

    How many were drafted by Chip Kelley?

    betting it’s the same number for each question.

    • cliff henny

      3?

      • myeaglescantwin

        is that a real answer? (not saying it’s not)

        names?

        • Andy124

          lol

  • kleptolia

    It’s true that Chip will run the same offense, but he will have a lot of new tweaks for his favorite plays.
    Fishduck.com has some interesting articles about the slight changes Chip would make from week to week and then from year to year in his offensive alignments and movements.
    The offense will look the same but it won’t behave exactly the same way as last year.
    This site needs a guy to do full time film study and breakdown of Eagles games in order to really see the way that Chip & Co. (there truly are other coaches on the staff, I swear!) adjust and maneuver.
    Unfortunately, I don’t know how to do that. Otherwise, I would volunteer.
    That said, both of you guys (Sheil and Tim) do great jobs on your breakdowns. I only wish there were more of them.

    • anon

      You have Fish Duck, Chipwagon does great All 22 breakdowns. You can live off that site’s archives until TC.

    • Always Hopeful

      As a life long fan who never played organized football, I was never as excited about learning x’s and o’s as I have been with Chip and his offense.

      It’s more than the x’s and o’s though, it’s the whole refreshing approach to building the organization. It will be fascinating watching CK et. al. adjust to the counter moves they’ll see this season. Great suggestion. Some of the All 22 work done here gets at that. Also, there’s that Chip wagon blog that does good analysis of the nuances of play variations during the season.

  • Leegles

    High character, good route runner, great hands, catches everything, wears #81, not the fastest guy out there — seems like we can at least expect him to successfully replace Avant’s numbers in his first year.

    • bobloblawslawblog

      he has good speed. much faster than Avant ever had.

  • cliff henny

    Jon Beason carted off field for Giants. get the bubblewrap out CHipper, get these guys to week 1 at least

    • NickS1

      Any reason given?

      • DetmerWonAHeisman

        Reportedly right foot injury–felt something “give out” on the bottom of his foot. Would guess is either LisFranc sprain/fracture (bad) or ruptured plantar fascia (which is not season threatening)

    • Uncle Wonder

      Sad…kid can’t stay healthy

    • Always Hopeful

      Jeez, I was just on BBV reading about his impact on their D. Always liked him as a player, can’t stay on the field though…

    • TOm W

      Year of the injured or suspended ilb goes on …. two division rivals hurt hard on already weak defenses and lb corps …. the Rainmaker, Chip, Shady, and the Oline lookin good

  • Scott J

    Kelly’s offensive philosophy of reacting to what the defense is showing, is completely opposite of Reid’s … which was, we’ll throw the ball even against the worst run defenses.

    • Always Hopeful

      Drove US crazy…when it didn’t work

      • Scott J

        It always seemed like Reid beat himself with bad game management. With Chip, you feel like if we lose, it will be because we were outplayed, not out-coached.

        • anon

          he can’t control the d. we got outcoached by nola.

          • JofreyRice

            yeah, I want this trend of Sean Payton playing bully big-brother on Chip to stop before it gets a chance to start. Do we play them this year?

          • Jeff Asay

            How? The D gave the run to take away the pass. They slowed the Saints to the point where it took two special teams miscues to lose the game. Missed FG and short kickoff/big return.

        • Steve

          The one thing I hope Chip and his staff improve upon this year is using the challenge flag on obvious calls/no-calls. I remember at least two instances last year that were real head scratchers as to why someone didn’t signal to Chip to use a challenge. If I can see it before a pundit even mentions it, I expect someone on the staff to spot it as well.

          • JofreyRice

            totally agreed. As far as a learning curve from college to the pros, I think his was a steep one, but that is one area I hope he improves upon.

    • JofreyRice

      Yeah, it really is. Reid used to script the first 15 plays of the game. Can you imagine? That’s the complete antithesis of what Chip is about. I remember the Eagles playing the Pats, and Belichick knew–KNEW–Reid was going to be throwing the ball in short yardage on the goal line, and dropped all his LBs into zones. Belichick said as much after the game. Disgraceful that we had to endure Reid for so long after it was clear he was totally fat.

      • Philip Soloninka

        CLEARLY FAT.

      • Ark87

        Belichick had a habit of KNOWING a lot of stuff before the very next game after that final superbowl win.

        Ironically Reid’s scripted plays were the strongest part of what he did for himself during his successful days. Played perfectly to his personal strengths and weaknesses. His strengths being preparation, and weakness being outsmarting when improvising. Whenever the camera panned to Andy at a big moment is imagined him debating his play selection in his head in much the same fashion vizzini debates which cup is poisoned in Princess Bride. My personal favorite is that damn 3rd and long draw play that happened all too often. They know I hate to run, and the situation calls for a pass, they’ll never see it coming!

        • Reasonableeaglefan

          How about that awful shovel pass on short yardage?? Oh they’ll never see that one coming.

          • Penfold

            That play actually worked quite frequently when the team had Westbrook.

          • Maggie

            Still wear my #36 jersey on game days!

          • Wilbert31

            Penfold is right Reasonable, you (and I) remember it as awful because we knew it was coming. But then it would still work! So not so bad after all.

          • Ark87

            How about the roll out to the right or left (depending on whether our QB is right or left handed) in the redzone. Hey lets move the QB and 2 receiving options into a 10 yard by 10 yard box filled with 4-5 defenders.

          • cliff henny

            think what drove me most nutz about Reid’s team was the 2nd and 10 or worse 2nd and 15/20’s after incomplete pass draws. not so much the play, but at the end of game/season, we hear the Eagles ran for 4+yds/carry, 125 yds/game, top ten in league, whatever numbers ended up being but usually respectful…but it was all draw air! couldnt pick up1 or2 by running to save their lives and it was maddening.
            .
            so thankfull for Kelly, he sees 2nd and 1 as a layup run pickup.

          • Ark87

            Ah yes, the quintessential Andy Reid series. First down is the gamblin down: throw a bomb off of play action (that fools ‘em!) or do a reverse or some such thing. Second down, do the obligatory running play to set up for that lovely 3rd and long. I’m actually a big fan of big Red, but the change has been refreshing and welcomed.

          • Reasonableeaglefan

            He ran that same series in the 2 min offense. First down pass for 8 and get tackled in bounds. Second down, run inside, just to get a first, usually come up short. Now scramble to the line with the clock running and try to convert while the game clock ticks away.

          • http://www.idonthaveawebsite.com theedevilsadvocate

            ha yea time management was something he could never grasp.

          • JofreyRice

            ugh.

        • JofreyRice

          It was so formulaic though, and it seemed like the season always ended with him looking really bad. If I can sit on my couch and call out what the guy is going to do on every play, that’s a problem.

      • paul from nc

        Belichek and 90% of the fans watching knew what was coming.

      • Penfold

        I believe Bill Walsh also scripted his first 15 plays. It seemed to work out okay for him.

        • Maggie

          True. And Walsh had a few guys on the field who executed.

        • JofreyRice

          different time, different tactics and different ability to adjust to new information as he received it. Andy couldn’t collate Bill Walsh’s playbook.

  • cliff henny

    holy smokes, checking twitter to find out why for Nick, and Rueben Randle is being dragged off. NYGs are dropping like flies.
    .
    Beason, has to be knee, they are paper mache by now

  • Bullwinkle

    It is hard to look shifty and fast if you are 6′-3″, and have a long limb angular build. It is much easier for an under 6′ running back with short stumpy legs to look shifty and fast. Although the long legs do not appear to be moving as quickly, they cover significantly more ground with each step/stride. Being a short guy playing sports against bigger people, I have a very good understanding of the physical advantages tall, athletic individuals have. Speed and shiftiness can be deceptive.

  • Addicted2MAmula

    Great interview. JORDAN MATTHEWS!

  • peteike

    Falcons on Hard Knocks this year. Hmmmm, we get to see up close how Stephen Jackson takes teams out of playoff contention ala Takeo Spikes.

    • NickS1

      How does he take teams out of contention?

      • peteike

        ha, it was a joke, hes just one of those guys that you think would finally get his chance and then they come out like they did last year. That division isnt getting any easier either.

        • NickS1

          I was going to say, he’s been pretty solid throughout his career.

    • Maggie

      I was looking for better things last season from Stephen Jackson. Hopefully, with the improvement in the receiving corps and fewer injuries, he will show his stuff this year.

      • peteike

        I think I had him on one of my fantasy teams so Im still bitter

  • Maggie

    Sure hope there are better pics of Matthews available. That worried-looking guy with no shoulders just does not look like a saint!

  • Broadcasting Wisdom

    Love that quote by Foles. Reading coverages instantly and delivering the ball to the proper person is the most difficult and most underrated skill of quarterbacking. Hundreds of people can throw the ball good enough to be a NFL QB, what separates the top 4 or 5 is knowing when and where the ball should go.

    As for Matthews, of course he’s not “particularly shifty.” Either is Megatron, Brandon Marshall, Fitz, TO, or AJ Green. 6’3+ guys just aren’t as shifty as the Deseans, Steve Smiths of the world. Shiftiness as a proxy for “effective receive” is a really poor measurement. Damaris Johnson is really shifty and the dude can’t get on the field.

  • Malone

    I was watching college film on Jordan Matthews. I like the fact that he’ll attack the ball when it’s in the air. The kid impressed me with is hunger to learn. I can’t wait to see him play in chips offense. I mean he was big threat at vandy, with no other threats to score. He still managed to put up similar stats to the number 1wr taken this draft. Just imagine him with our other weapons. Ohhh I have goosebumps!! :))

  • Kev_H

    See, here’s the thing. All those other rookies that made the trend weren’t prepared. It took them a year to learn and prepare for the pro game. J. Matthews is always the most prepared guy. Especially now since he don’t got no schoolwork.

  • JoeKnowsNada

    The talk about Matthews’ speed not really showing up on film sort of reminds me of Brian Westbrook vs. the Jints, first time he won a ballgame for us. Jints did not understand how quick Westbrook was, and, on the fateful punt return that won us the game, took the wrong angles in pursuit, or just plain could not catch up to him. I think Matthews is similar – sneaky fast, doesn’t look like he is moving that fast, but, blink and he gets by you. “Shifty-ness” helps, however, if you run precise routes and out-quick your defender to a given spot on the field, since you know where you are going and he doesn’t, you don’t necessarily have to be shifty. Just grab the ball and go!