All-22: Zeroing In On the Eagles’ Defense

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Billy Davis pointed out during the summer that part of the reason the Eagles play a two gap 3-4 is because it’s the most effective scheme against a lot of the things Chip Kelly likes to do on offense.

And as we all know, Kelly likes to run the football.

So almost every week, when the coaches are game-planning for their opponents, they emphasize stopping the run. A rare exception was last year’s playoff game against the Saints when Davis decided to guard against the pass. But the Eagles defensive coordinator did not make that same exception for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.

“I don’t think he came out with any intention to run the ball to start with,” Davis said. “I was anticipating some running game coming.

“I think a lot of people try to establish the run early. Green Bay has really worked for a balanced attack. A balanced attack means you run a little bit more than they did. But it wasn’t long until you knew right away they were going pass, pass, pass. He was checking into some runs, I think, but I think they were looking at our presentations, so it makes us have to have a little broader plan against them. Again, I could have done better with the plan, too.” Read more »

All-22: What’s Ailing the Eagles’ Offense?

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Win or lose, Chip Kelly believes in keeping the same routine every Tuesday.

The players arrive at NovaCare in the morning, and the day starts with a team meeting. They then split up to review film from the previous week’s game. And lastly they head onto the field to go over corrections.

“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember and I do and understand,” Kelly is fond of repeating.

After Sunday’s 53-20 loss to the Packers, there were plenty of corrections to be made on this particular Tuesday.

“I think the point is you don’t dispose of anything quicker,” Kelly said. “A loss is a loss, whether it’s a one‑point loss or a 21‑point loss. It’s about the same mechanics of what we do. It’s common sense that if you have a mistake, you’ve got to admit your mistake, you’ve got to fix your mistake, and try not to repeat it again. We keep the same formula in terms of what we’re doing. …But to quantify a loss by too many points or a loss by one point and then differentiate between it, it’s not the way we operate.” Read more »

All-22: On the Eagles’ Run Game Struggles

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Chip Kelly was asked earlier this week whether the win over the Carolina Panthers represented the Eagles’ most complete game of the season.

“No,” he said after a short pause. “We didn’t play well offensively at all.”

Considering Mark Sanchez posted a passer rating of 102.5 and the Eagles put 45 up on the scoreboard, Kelly’s response caught many by surprise. But the truth is the Eagles had trouble sustaining drives, with seven of 13 possessions gaining 10 yards or fewer.

To Kelly, not having an effective run game is like not having a morning cup of coffee. Regardless of what else happens, it’s likely to ruin his day. And on Monday night, Eagles running backs totaled 38 yards on 18 attempts (2.1 YPC). After the victory, the mood among the offensive linemen was different than many others in the locker room. Read more »

All-22: Sanchez’s Movement In the Pocket

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher - USA Today

Photo Credit: Bill Streicher – USA Today

Like most NFL coaches, Chip Kelly is obsessed with preparation.

The Eagles go into games expecting certain things. But Kelly believes there should never be true surprises. His players should be equipped to handle whatever’s being thrown their way. When the coaches got their game plan together for the team’s matchup with the Panthers, they saw that Carolina liked to play a lot of zone with two deep safeties.

Given that the Panthers were allowing a league-worst 4.8 YPC, the Eagles were prepared to gash them with LeSean McCoy and the ground game.

But when the offense took the field for the first time, it was clear defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was opting for a different approach. Read more »

All-22: The Offense With Sanchez At the Helm

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During the days leading up to the Eagles-Texans game, Brent Celek spent part of his film-watching sessions focusing in on J.J. Watt.

For some tight ends, that might seem unusual. For Celek, it was not.

“When you watch him on film, he lined up at every single position,” Celek said. “So I knew there was gonna be times where I was gonna line up against him, and then it happened.”

Since Chip Kelly took over, the 29-year-old tight end has entered a new stage in his career. The days of catching 70+ balls (like Celek did back in 2009) are over. Instead, he spends more than 50 percent of his snaps as a run blocker. And on Sunday, that meant occasionally getting matched up against Watt. Read more »

All-22: On Davis, Allen And the Talent On Defense

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Billy Davis made sure he spoke with conviction. He knew hesitating for even a split-second would allow the public to draw its own conclusions.

Asked if he’s still confident in Nate Allen, the Eagles defensive coordinator responded quickly: “Absolutely confident in Nate Allen. No question.”

Davis was grilled earlier this week about the big plays the Eagles’ defense allowed against the Cardinals. He offered a passionate defense of Allen, sticking up for the veteran safety who had been blamed by many for the Eagles’ second loss of the season.

The specific play in focus was the 75-yard touchdown to John Brown. The Eagles were in quarters coverage, meaning Allen and Cary Williams were dividing the top half of the field; each was responsible for a quarter. Read more »

All-22: Dissecting the Offensive Issues

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Following the Eagles’ 24-20 loss to the Cardinals in Week 8, a reporter pointed out to center David Molk that despite Nick Foles dropping back 63 times, the offensive line did not allow a sack.

Todd Herremans had just returned from the showers at the next locker over, heard the question and decided to chime in.

“There was definitely pressure on him,” Herremans said.

Pressure is the key term when examining the issues with the Eagles’ offense right now. How Chip Kelly is choosing to attack it, how the offensive line is blocking it and the most popular topic among the fan base this week: how Foles is reacting to it. Read more »

All-22: New Wrinkle Sparks Eagles Run Game

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Through the first five games, it seemed everyone had a different reason for why the Eagles’ run game was struggling.

Most pointed to the injuries on the offensive line. Some suggested LeSean McCoy was injured or had lost a step. And others simply figured it was out how defenses were playing the Eagles.

But there was another factor at play, one that the coaching staff could control. During the Week 4 loss to the 49ers, there were indications that San Francisco knew some of what was coming. Against St. Louis, to a lesser extent, there were similar sentiments.

“They knew what plays were coming,” said Lane Johnson after the win over the Rams.

“I just think defenses have more knowledge of what’s coming. Last year everything was so new, and I think they’ve kind of seen a lot of what we do, so just moving forward, we’ll probably throw in a few more wrinkles.”

Chip Kelly would not be offended by Johnson’s comments. The Eagles’ offense is based on running a series of foundation plays effectively, dressing them up differently and moving at a fast pace. The problem at times this season has been that defenses have game-planned well against those foundation plays. Because of injuries up front and inconsistent quarterback play, the offense has not run as smoothly.

But against the Giants, a team that limited McCoy to 94 yards on 35 carries in two meetings last year with an inside stunt, Kelly broke out some wrinkles that helped jump-start the run game and the offense as a whole. Read more »

All-22: The State Of the Eagles’ Offense

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After Sunday’s win against the Rams, Chip Kelly discussed the process of feeling out opposing defenses early in games.

“Just try to loosen them up,” Kelly said. “A lot of times as we play teams, it’s figuring how they decide to defend us. They were in a big man scheme, different than some of the other teams we face. Trying to get a feel for what they are going to do from a defensive standpoint.

“They have done a good job of playing zone and man. Just what are they going to choose to play us in, and they chose to play us in a lot more man today than we had seen. Even any of the other games we had played, I think Jacksonville and San Francisco played us in a ton of zone. These guys, their choice was to play us in man. Just have to do a better job with some of our man beaters. We had some guys there, but we have to do a better job. We knew what we were getting. We just have to execute.”

For the second week in a row, the offense looked shaky, managing two touchdown drives while turning the ball over three times. Read more »

All-22: Dissecting the Eagles’ Defensive Breakdowns

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Knowing that he was about to field several questions about the defense’s near-meltdown against the St. Louis Rams, Billy Davis went for the humor route as he walked up to the podium Tuesday afternoon.

“You guys rather have [special teams coach Dave] Fipp?” he joked. “I can bring Fipp up. He deserves it.”

The first nine possessions against the Rams resulted in one touchdown, five punts and three turnovers. However, the Eagles allowed three touchdown drives of 60+ yards in the final 18 minutes and needed a late stop to hang on to a 34-28 lead.

Davis fields questions about his starting cornerbacks on a weekly basis. On Tuesday, he offered a passionate defense of Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher. He also provided context for some of the team’s late-game breakdowns. Read more »

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