Back in March, there were bigger names on the free agent market, but the Eagles insisted Malcolm Jenkins was the top safety on their board, ahead of guys like Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward, both of whom played their college ball at Oregon.
Some (including yours truly) questioned the decision. Given the franchise’s track record in evaluating safeties over the years, it was fair to wonder whether Jenkins would just add to a long list of guys who were unable to adequately fill the void on the back end of the defense.
But four games in, the opposite appears to be true. Jenkins has three interceptions in his last three games and has shown the versatility that Chip Kelly and other team officials raved about back in the spring. Read more »
In Chip Kelly’s first game as an NFL head coach against Jim Haslett and Washington last season, he used a look in the second quarter that we would see pretty much on a weekly basis throughout the year.
It featured stacked receivers to both sides and a single back. Read more »
Billy Davis has had to strike a balance quite a bit since taking over as the Eagles defensive coordinator last year.
He is honest in admitting when his unit doesn’t play well, but he’s also a positive person by nature and tries to look ahead. After all, it’s not like the defense is loaded with talent, and the team is 3-0 heading into Sunday’s game against the 49ers.
“We weren’t playing well at all in that game, and we gave up a lot of yards and all those things,” Davis said Tuesday. “And most teams I’ve been with would let those bad plays ‑ we had five X plays. Most of the time you get in such a tank that at the end of the game when you have to defend 6 yards to win it, you don’t have the mental toughness to do it because you’re still frustrated from the bad game you’re playing. And our group didn’t show any signs of that. They showed such mental toughness and strength that we had to defend 6 yards for four downs, and they stepped up and got that done.”
On seven of 12 possessions, Washington’s offense either scored a touchdown or set up for a field goal. Kirk Cousins went 30-for-48 for 427 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. While Malcolm Jenkins and Brandon Boykin made some nice plays down the stretch, this was the definition of a defense getting picked apart.
Cousins played at a high level for most of the game, getting rid of the ball quickly and making some impressive throws into tight window. But this is the NFL, and there are a lot of good quarterbacks. At some point, just giving the other guys credit is no longer valid.
Keeping that in mind, below is a look at some of the key issues that hurt the Eagles Sunday. And in case you missed it, yesterday we provided a player-by-player breakdown. Read more »
With 5:15 left in the third quarter of Monday night’s game against the Colts, the Eagles needed someone to step up and make a play.
They were trailing 20-6 and faced a 3rd-and-11 from their own 43. They had a good hunch of what the Colts were going to do on defense: rush three and drop eight.
Zach Ertz lined up in the slot. He would run an over route downfield to the opposite hash mark. Read more »
Billy Davis is expecting improvement on the defense to come from two separate areas.
One is that players from last year are more comfortable in the Eagles’ 3-4. And two is that he’s now able to add more layers to the scheme.
“Looking at last year, a lot of things we did, we were growing into this,” Davis said. “And it’s nothing more than a progression of growth from the end of last year to again a couple pieces we added and a couple schematic things we added to it and just threw it all at them. We will continue to grow that and hopefully continue to grow that way with both the understanding they have in our scheme and the scheme itself.”
Sunday’s Week 1 win against the Jaguars was a good start. It must be noted that Jacksonville could end up being one of the five worst offenses in the league. But after a couple lapses early, the Eagles’ defense dominated in the second half. Jacksonville was held scoreless on eight second-half possessions: five punts, a turnover on downs, a fumble and the end of the game.
The pass-rush, a question mark going into the season, looked like a strength against the Jaguars’ below-average offensive line. And players like Fletcher Cox and Mychal Kendricks turned in outstanding individual performances. Below is a look at what we saw in Week 1. Read more »
During his post-game press conference Sunday, Chip Kelly pointed out that he did not throw any chairs during halftime against the Jaguars.
Eight scoreless possessions through two quarters did not call for any grand adjustments. The Eagles saw what Jacksonville was doing defensively – a heavy dose of Cover 3 – and felt like they had the right answers in their arsenal.
“Halftime wasn’t a major, ‘Hey, we have to overhaul this whole thing. …We took the wrong approach coming into this. They are doing what we didn’t expect them to do,’ ” Kelly said. “Really they played right to the schedule in terms of what they were doing. They played a lot more zone than they played man.
“It’s not like things weren’t there. We had plays. We didn’t change anything. If you watch the game what we did, there wasn’t a huge change from a play-call standpoint in terms of what we were doing in the second half from what we were doing in the first half.”
The tape reflects Kelly’s comments. Cover 3 leaves the seams open, and that’s where the Eagles attacked with their wide receivers and tight ends all game long. But on multiple occasions, Nick Foles had trouble taking advantage. Read more »
At the start of training camp in July, Chip Kelly was asked about how Mark Sanchez was adapting to a new offensive scheme.
“A lot of things that all of us do, no matter where you’re coaching… it’s still four verticals,” he said. “We call it differently than the way Marty [Mornhinweg] called it, but they ran four verticals here at the Eagles. Marty runs four verticals when you watch the Jets tape. We run four verticals.”
Eagles offensive coaches mention four verticals often – usually when they’re trying to get the point across that they’re not doing anything all that innovative.
The passing concept is used around the league and really at every level of football. Quarterback G.J. Kinne says he remembers first learning it as a freshman in high school. Wide receiver Jeff Maehl says Oregon ran four verticals when he played for Kelly in college.
Once again, to help explain the concept, we called on our old friend Coach Flinn, along with some of the current Eagles players and coaches. Read more »
Hang around Chip Kelly enough, and you’ll get used to hearing the number 53 1/3.
That’s the width (in yards) of the football field. Kelly’s offensive philosophy is predicated on making defenses account for every inch of that width, along with the vertical space between the line of scrimmage and the end zone.
Perhaps no play serves as a better example of that philosophy than Y-Cross, a staple of the Air Raid offense, and now a go-to play in the Eagles’ offense.
To break down the concept, we called on our old friend Coach Flinn. Flinn has helped us with the mesh concept, double posts in the red zone and snag. But I’ve never heard him more excited than when discussing Y-Cross. The guy flat-out loves this play. Read more »
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. Read more »
Your 2014 Eagles Almanac is now available for pre-order.
If you’ve missed this publication the past two years, it’s a comprehensive look at the season ahead with contributions from a variety of talented writers.
There are also some untalented writers who are allowed to pen chapters. That’s where Tim and I come in.
My piece this year focused on the defense as a whole. What did Billy Davis run in his first year as the Eagles’ coordinator? What were the strengths and weaknesses? What changes are in store going forward?
Below is part of what I wrote, focusing on one of the Eagles’ primary schemes on the back end: the Cover 3.
And remember, order your Eagles Almanac today! Read more »