All-22: Snag, Tempo And the Eagles

snag_finalAll22

During the early part of every Eagles practice, the robotic voice that emanates from the speakers at the NovaCare Complex announces a period called RVA, or routes versus air.

Five quarterbacks in red jerseys stand side by side in the middle of the field. Wide receivers, tight ends and running backs set up in one of five lines – three to one side, two to the other. The balls are snapped simultaneously, the receivers run their routes, and the passes are delivered without any defenders.




During one of the reps, the No. 1 receiver (closest to the sideline) takes off on a slant, but turns around at about 5 yards and faces the quarterback. The No. 2 receiver runs a corner route - upfield and then angling towards the sideline. And the No. 3 man (closest to the formation) shuffles towards the sideline near the line of scrimmage, keeping his eyes on the QB the entire time.

It's a common passing concept called the snag - one that is utilized by teams across the league on a weekly basis.

To break down how the Eagles use it, when it works and when it doesn't, we called on our old friend Coach Flinn, who explains this stuff as well as anyone out there.

***

The most common coverage the Eagles faced in 2013 was Cover 1 - man coverage across the board with a single high safety.

snag_finalAll22

Here, you see the three routes involved, along with the look of the defense.

"It’s an easy read for the quarterback," Flinn said. "He’s always gonna read deep first, so we look at the corner route first. His back leg hits the ground on his drop, he looks corner. His feet move, he looks snag. He shuffles his feet again, he throws the ball to the flat. So it’s a hi-lo, look deep first, then make your read, then throw it to your checkdown in the flat."

Against Cover 1, offenses want to throw away from the middle of the field where the deep safety is sitting. So the best chance to hit a big play on the corner route is against this exact coverage.

The other part about the snag concept against man coverage is that it can create a natural traffic jam.

snag1b_all22

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"The other part of [the No. 1 WR's] job is if it’s man, you’re also gonna snag the number three’s guy if he’s running into the flat," Flinn said. "So anybody exiting the box… to cover the guy running the bubble or running the flat, you would get in that guy’s way if you thought it was man coverage."

On this particular play, Jason Avant leaves the corner behind and runs the corner route away from the free safety. Michael Vick gets crushed, but delivers a beautiful ball on time for the touchdown.

"The standard thing we’ll do is we’ll go four times with the inside foot [before breaking out], which usually puts you at 10 yards, maybe a little bit deeper," Flinn said, explaining the corner route. "And then if we recognize it’s man coverage or recognize it’s man pressure, if it’s no deep, man with no help, we let him speed it up to three times with your inside foot if we know there’s an extra rusher coming.

"My issue on all those routes is if you break that thing too short, your angle isn’t gonna be high enough to get the ball. So we always talk about get your full depth, give me at least 10 yards, come smoking out of your break, come flying out of there like the ball’s in the air and you’re running to go get a touchdown. That’s what should be happening."

snag1c_all22

You can see the corner is trailing, and the safety has no chance of getting to Avant in time. The result is a touchdown.

***

Nick Foles' first start of the season came in Week 6 against the Bucs, and the Eagles turned to the snag concept on multiple occasions against Tampa's zone looks.

snag2a_all22

On this play, the Bucs are in quarter-quarter-half coverage. That means three deep defenders - the two to the bottom of the screen split one side of the field. The defender to the top of the screen is responsible for the other half.

Against this coverage, the corner route is not a great option because the quarter player closest to the sideline (in this case Darrelle Revis) will drop and take it away. Once Foles sees that, his next read is to the snag route - in this case being run by Avant.

"Our spacing between number one and two, which would be Avant and Cooper here, is about 7 yards," Flinn said. "It looks about where they’re at just to give that corner [route] time to release, and you’re gonna angle on 45 [degrees] into 5 yards, end up in his stem."

The other key element to this play is the zone-bubble action. The Eagles' most popular packaged play is a zone run combined with a bubble screen. Off the snap, that's exactly what this looks like, and take note that the run fake is to the opposite side of the three receivers. It's one of Chip Kelly's core principles: make the defense defend the entire width of the field, 53 1/3 yards.

snag2b_all22

As the play develops, you can see the corner route is not open. The underneath defender (No. 29) is drawn to DeSean Jackson, leaving an opening for Avant. Foles faces pressure, stands in the pocket and delivers the ball on target.

"The quarterback might hit you when you’re on the move - if it’s a blitz or something like that," Flinn said, explaining the snag route. "More often than not, you’re gonna sprint, come to balance, stick your foot in the ground at 5 yards and show the quarterback your numbers."

snag2c_all22

Once Avant sees the ball is coming, it's catch-tuck-knife.

"Catch the ball, tuck the ball and then knife up the field," Flinn explained. "We tell our guys in between the hashes, catch the ball and knife it. You’re not gonna do yourself much good running sideways."

Another key point: Last year, many (included yours truly) talked about how good Foles was at looking off defenders. Flinn explained that a lot of times, that's just the QB going through his reads. When he looks for something and it's not there, it naturally moves the defenders.

"When you build the read this way, it helps the quarterback move defenders while making his reads," he said. "It’s not just [you’re] gonna blatantly look off the other side of the field, come over here. It’s actually, ‘I’m reading this. I’m reading corner, then I’m coming back down.'

"The other thing too is when you do that, you’re building in a vertical shot every play. He checks that thing first every time. And then if it’s not there, then you take what they give you. It keeps the defense honest because it always has that option in there, which I think is a neat way to go about it."

***

"Yes."

That was the one-word answer Kelly gave me when I asked if there are specific situations where he really likes to use tempo.

Can you share any of those?

"I don't recall right now," he said, before offering a little bit more of an explanation.

But one of the times Kelly likes to push it is after big plays. In the Eagles' Week 17 win over the Cowboys last year, Foles found Brent Celek downfield for a 35-yard gain. From the time Celek was ruled down to the time the ball was snapped for the next play, only 21 seconds had elapsed off the clock.

The result? A confused Dallas defense and one of Foles' easiest touchdown passes of the year.

snag3a_all22

It was once again the snag concept. The run fake moved defenders to the left, and the Cowboys sent a five-man pressure. Foles had a simple read: Hey, no one is covering Celek. He got the ball out quick, and the Eagles' veteran tight end found the end zone from 14 yards out.

Wide receiver Josh Huff, an Oregon product, was a bit more revealing than Kelly when asked if his head coach liked to use tempo after big plays.

"Most definitely," he said. "Any time you get a big gain, you want to break the defense’s back even more and break their will. So any time we get a big gain we’re gonna try to go after them even more. Because the big gain, you’ve got big linemen running downfield trying to get set. When they’re not set, that’s when we’re at our best."

***

So when is the snag concept at its least effective? According to Flinn, it's against Cover 2 when the defense has two safeties deep and five underneath defenders.

snag4a_all22

Here, the Saints actually drop eight into coverage.

"Why isn’t it great? It’s not super great because you have a curl defender automatically in Cover-2," Flinn said, explaining that the snag is taken away. "So what’s your best throw? Your best throw here is usually a high angle corner in between the free safety and the hard shoulder corner. But that’s dropping the ball in the bucket there. It’s not a real high percentage deal."

The key player is the cornerback at the bottom of the screen. If Foles can make him commit to the flat, he'll have extra room to hit the corner route (or vice versa).

As Chris Brown of Smart Football explained:

As a general matter, against a Cover Two defense the quarterback will have a high/low read of the cornerback; if he sinks back he can throw it to the inside receiver in the flat; if the cornerback drops he will throw it to the corner route behind the cornerback.

On this particular play, Foles opted not to take a shot at the corner route and instead came back to Cooper, completing a 6-yard pass.

***

The snag concept is one that's used on a weekly basis by teams around the league. Depending on the coverage, it can turn into a shot play or a relatively high percentage throw near the line of scrimmage.

As is the case with a lot of the offense, Kelly likes to often use simple concepts, but dress them up differently and add elements like zone/bubble action and tempo.

It always comes down to execution. So when the Eagles hear the voice announce RVA later this afternoon, they'll line up, make sure their splits are just right, pay attention to detail on their routes and hope it all pays off once again when the games start in September.

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  • Kevin_aka_RC

    Fantastic post. Love these breakdowns.

    If you take a look at the action before the snap, no team presses DeSean. Will teams do the same this year? It’s hard to press in bunch formations, but pressing and disrupting would make the rub between the curl/snag routes more difficult.

    • anon

      They didn’t press b/c they used bunch formations and moved desean around, CK basically said they had to scheme to get him away from press man.

      It’ll be interesting when we play seattle.

  • Will

    Great article again love the All-22 break downs…

  • Joe

    Quote from Chip Kelly……..”Defense had everybody as close to the line of scrimmage as possible and nobody was helping anybody. They were trying to stop the run game.”

    So there was NO double coverage on DeSean.

    • anon

      Defenses only have one type of coverage on every play?

      • miketd1

        There are combo coverages, but when you only show one high safety — you only have one high safety. You can’t have someone up at the line of scrimmage responsible for deep zones unless they are strapped to rockets.

        • bill

          “You can’t have someone up at the line of scrimmage responsible for deep zones”
          unless you are a safety playing behind the wide 9….

          • miketd1

            then there’s that………

  • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

    This is awesome stuff. And thanks Coach Flinn.

  • OverreacSean Jackson, #culture

    I’m going to be unstoppable in Madden ’15.

    • Kevin

      Lol. Not a big video game guy, but I am curious, do you think madden will start to allow ‘tempo’ plays? To me it would be fascinating how the game tries to replicate the Eagles offense, especially if they are close to the top in the league again this year.

      • anon

        They already do. It’s deadly.

        • Sconces

          except when you fumble every drive

    • Addicted2MAmula

      Only thing is everybody is going to use Eagles playbook

  • Say No to Marc Mo From Easton

    Great breakdown!

    I love that Foles is now in his second year of this offense because these plays are going to be second nature to him at this point. If he can keep his decision making the same or improve it then he will have a great year.

    GO EAGLES!

  • mtn_green

    Great article.

  • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

    Huff just went up in my estimation. “Break the will” of the defense? Nice.

    • aub32

      Here’s hoping that our offense can do to defenses what SEA defense did to the Broncos.

      • peteike

        a little balance on both ends helps all around. SF and Sea Ds are just so so good and its always a huge bonus come playoff time. Tough to deal with and throw in GB and NO and its not easy. I still expect us to be up there close to those teams though. Lofty but really amazing when you think about where this team was at 4-12 that feels like yesterday.

    • borntosuffer

      Yea, I’m a big fan of Huff’s attitude. He has that “destroy” mentality.

  • TNA

    SK – you should ask an offensive player or coach what the answer is when facing a cover 2 (or more) in a 3rd/4th and long situation…the above shot from the Saints game looked like they were backed up after a penalty/play that lost yardage and had to get 15 yards for the 1st down. If CK answers, “The answer is Freddie Mitchell,” he should be put into the Eagles HOF immediately.

    • Drewfus

      Isn’t the option to run the ball as part of the zone run? Unless that is purely in as a fake but we know Chip loves to have a run/pass option

    • poetx99

      generally cover 2 beater is a TE (or slot WR) vertical up the middle of the field. (3 verts).

      if the safeties play too far inside, or the WRs on the outside beat the jam quickly you can try to hit the quick 9 (go) in the gap before the safety gets over. again, the presence of the vertical route in the middle to threaten the safety will influence there.

      if you play against a tampa 2 team w/ a really rangy MLB, it’s harder, because he can get back almost to cover deep third.

      another option is to run vertical on the outside to occupy the CB and freeze the safety and run a TE or slot WR on a 7 (post-corner). on that you stem it inside somewhat and break flatter than on a normal corner route.

      • Warhound KnowsHstryWarts&All

        Run two verts and an in-breaking route from a 3 man bunch and then send a HB or TE on a wheel route to that side.

  • wydok

    I love these articles.

  • CHRIS – CB with dreads

    Great breakdown. You guys make it easy to understand and do a heck of a job.

  • JofreyRice

    Interesting. The concept seemed to work the best against a 4 man rush, but was less effective against one coming on the blitz–luckily Vick had the guts to stick in there to stick in and deliver the ball–and a 3 man rush, where extra defenders dropped out and changed the windows. I guess the inline TE releasing vertically just keeps the safety honest and provides a read to that side of the field, if everything to the 3WR side is covered?

    Greg Cosell thought Kelly’s biggest adjustment would be that he couldn’t use as many 5 man protections–that in the NFL, he was going to have to give up one or two of his receivers to block on a higher % of plays than he had at Oregon. I wonder if part of the pace is designed to keep the blitzing to a minimum; with less time, there is less chance to disguise your blitz, among other things.

    • cliff h-MOAR white goons

      think kelly will love seeing more blitzes, now that he’ll have 3 legit seam options in Ertz, Sproles and Matthews-2 of which will probably be on the field at all times. the 2 biggest differences i saw (very laymen here) between Philly v Oregon offenses was WR screnes and seam routes. think kelly looks as Mac being good enough on outside to keep everyone honest, and then spent serious resources to upgrade those 2 areas.

      • poetx99

        very good points.

    • miketd1

      You nailed it: the pace doesn’t allow time to disguise — either you’re in position at the time of the snap or you’re faking it and the defense is unsound (which we saw our fair share of). Baseball has a saying: Hit it where they ain’t. Looks like Chip assimilated that maxim into his playbook.

    • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

      I think the DE read and often sending Shady wide to the opposite side helped change the minds of some attack-first DEs. Also allows the interior OL to stay in run-blocking mode, and trying to engage the DL head-on. DTs really have to get penetration to help neutralize it, as seen by NYG.

      Should be even more deadly with Sproles. And if Ertz really is as good as he looks, especially blocking, the 2 TE or 2 RB sets will be lethal. Heck, same package– 20, 21, 22 personnel could be lethal now.

      • anon

        It’d be nice to hear how he’s doing on blocking drills. That was his big issue last year, if he could be an “Every down” guy that’d be amazing

        • Max Lightfoot

          Agreed. I’d like to see Zach crush some LBs – he’s big enough. But will he buy in? Hope so.

        • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

          Could not agree more. I would LOVE for a huge gripe this year to be Casey is a waste of money, assuming Ertz (and Celek) just stay on the field.
          Also predicting the summer storylines now— grading all of our Day 1 and 2 picks to be unproductive bums due to low snap counts. Realistically? Smith grows into our feared Barwin++.

          I’d love for Matthews to get tons of slot snaps, or Huff to make the lineup as primary KR/PR. But not expecting anything near ROY*

          *I still plan to draft Jordan Matthews every chance I get in FFL, hedging against His Coming.

          • peteike

            I plan on it as well, only problem is there are like 3 other philly fans in my league and one guy takes a bunch of Eagles every year.

  • Explorer51

    Sheil, your All-22’s are “often imitated, never duplicated”…thanks!

  • peteike

    Matthews just tearing it up in camp, every other tweet is him making a play, Kempski said he was trying to mention him less but just cant. Still early but wow, or is that more of an indication of a bad sign for the D backs

    • cliff h-MOAR white goons

      beat me to it. reading over at bleedinggreen – have easy to follow twitter feed. funniest was ESP (of all people) something like ‘Sanchez 6/6 all to Matthews, and why not?!’

      • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

        When did CW become the spokesman for the D?

        • anon

          No one has funnier quotes than CW, but Meco is the leader.

          • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

            Oh I agree 100%. Meco may be the leader, but the spokesman is definitely CW. Even if it’s only his thoughts and not the whole D’s.

        • cliff h-MOAR white goons

          don’t know, but sounds like they are taking his edge attitude to heart. picked off 3 or 4 passes today. hopefully someone who is at practice can comment on FOles, only time see anything is when there’s an error and it’s not too often. hear about nice throws from Dirty and Blonde.

          • Will

            Foles is money….looked good out there today from what I could see…Sanchez no slouch either….

        • paul from nc

          Gotta love his attitude. Hope his play improves to match it.

      • peteike

        yup, thats where I read the tweets also, nice place to follow practice. I can kind of just read them at my pace. Im not even done yet so have more to look forward to

    • Will

      No Jordan just jumps out at you cause every play the kid is in high gear pushing himself….didn’t see him drop a single pass all day…

  • anon

    8yrs $98m for Dallas’ left tackle. Hahhahahaha

    • cliff h-MOAR white goons

      what? has to be extension, right? Smith? money is good, might be little long

  • Max Lightfoot

    Thanks, Sheil, for explaining some fairly complicated routes. You really have a knack for this. I was aware of the red zone scissors they run, but not the snag. I like all the crazy overloading that Chip Kelly uses. Plus the presence of Shady and/or Sproles in the backfield. It’s gonna be fun watching other teams’ defenses trying to cope with this – and the other tricks Kelly has up his midnight green sleeve!

  • Will

    Just got back from the Eagles practice today. Went to take cell phone pics but was asked not to. bummer ( didn’t want to risk being asked to leave)…any ways Jordan Matthews was in high gear all practice he looked just a bit faster then everyone else. All that conditioning he does should pay off in the 4th quarter of games. Jordan did beat press man coverage against Maragos.

    On another high note Malcolm Jenkins had 2 INT’s today…can’t say who threw them or who was the WR’s….also got Jenkins autograph….I think we have the real deal in Jenkins back there at Safety all we need is his partner in crime to step up and shine who ever that ends up being…

    The food was excellent catered by Chickie and Pete’s, the Rita’s water ice was a nice touch enjoyed two cherry water ice, the music was loud, there must have been like 40 coaches out there, a lot of specific drills and work with groups of player’s, and teaching periods, I saw a lot of the Offensive line today from where I was sitting. Happy to report they look healthy, crisp, and high motored it thru out the whole practice. Impressed with the back up O-Linemen on this squad which is good considering Lane will be out the first 4 games.

    Foles looked good from what I could see…Ertz dropped a pass in the end zone from Foles…Ertz looked lack luster at best…not impressed with the TE…Foles was signing autographs at the end of practice for a guy in a wheelchair and a little kid wearing #9, wished him good luck this year what a humble QB.

    McCoy looked relaxed and fresh out there. McCoy had a nice catch along the sideline during practice.

    Watched the group of kickers and Dorenbos other than punting on special teams, practiced punting in the corner, and they ran wind sprints….didn’t see a single FG attempt the whole practice….explains a lot on game day….worrisome to say the least.

    Maclin looked good no signs of any knee injury, Cooper hit the Jugs machine as soon as practice ended…all in all had a blast today! Go Eagles!

    • cliff h-MOAR white goons

      how’d FOles look?

      • Will

        Foles is money….looked good out there today from what I could see…Sanchez no slouch either…..

        • cliff h-MOAR white goons

          great, thanks. and of course Dirty looks good, he throws every pass to Jesus-in-cleats

        • anon

          Make anything of the fact that he only throws to JMatt? Be interesting to see how he plays if you take his toy away.

          DBs sound a lot different this year than last year. I call it the sconces effect. But they seem to have more pride, like being more physical than last year.

          • Will

            I’d venture to say Malcolm Jenkins back there makes the difference…the DB’s had all heart and effort in all the drills…a lot of high energy…the addition of Nolan Carrol as well the whole group looked like they were all pushing it to the limit….

        • Jay Kalinowski

          I NEVER thought Sanchez was as bad as the way he was made to look in NYJ. I did think, however, that he was a guy that needed to sit for a season or two behind a vet, on a team that had good personnel at the skill positions (something the Jets failed to keep around him from WR, RB, TE and OL) I, in complete honesty, believe he could be a pretty good QB in this system and on THIS team if Foles doesn’t maintain or gets injured.

    • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

      Good stuff Will – you’re a rule follower; I respect that. Next time get us some grainy “Sheil Style” cell phone pics.

      • Will

        Wanted to….believe me…

        • Jay Kalinowski

          Next time just take some dry erase pages or play cards and mark them up as the action happens, I expect a full scouting report from you tomorrow! lol

      • paul from nc

        Or throw in some stick figures

  • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

    Exactly why the Kelly System will only ever rely on QBs who can make all those reads, maximizing gain over risk. Beautiful to see the kid operate it.
    I’m happy Foles speed and supposed lack of physical skill allowed him to fall to the 3rd.

    • Max Lightfoot

      It was those size 16 gunboats.

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ Kelce’s Beard

        2andahalf leg syndrome.

        • Max Lightfoot

          Knew someone would bring that up.

    • anon

      I’m glad we were able to get any QB in that draft not named Weeden. Between Foles, Wilson, Luck, RGIII might be the best QB class of the modern era.

      • https://twitter.com/richcolton RichC, brings duck to cockfigh

        interesting to see what Lazor does with Tannehill this year.

        • NickS FFLC/GM/DPP/Scout/HC/OC

          Yeah, if that line holds up I think he can be a good QB.

        • phillyphanlvnv

          He might actually be the best qb from the class if he wasnt getting destroyed day in and out.

  • pjcostello

    Outstanding article, thank you!!

  • Eagles1018…Please no more du

    Thanks Sheil. I draw plays for my flag football team and the all 22’s have helped me a lot

  • Jay Kalinowski

    This website blog is by far the best I have ever read for any subject matter. It covers news about our Iggles, as well as breaking down tape for the average fans to learn what is going on. I have learned so much on Chip’s tactics, from actual scheme/play concepts and from practice ideas and theories that I have incorporated into coaching my kid’s football AND basketball teams….Thank you, Tim and Sheil!!!