Asked after the bye whether LeSean McCoy had been encountering too much traffic in the backfield, Chip Kelly offered a brief response.
“I don’t think any running back likes to deal with defenders in the backfield too much, but I don’t see that occurring at a high rate,” he said.
The Eagles’ head coach prefers sometimes to not show his hand. The previous week, McCoy had been dropped for a loss five times against the Redskins. He had to deal with a defender in the backfield on 12 of 20 occasions, oftentimes spinning out of trouble and picking up positive yardage.
But that model didn’t seem sustainable. Part of the problem had to do with the Eagles’ zone read. Teams were using their unblocked defenders to crash down on McCoy. If Nick Foles kept the ball, so be it. They would live with the 5- or 6-yard gain and an opportunity to hit the QB. Read more »
After a rocky start to the season, Billy Davis and his assistants have done an excellent job of coming up with ways to maximize the abilities of the Eagles’ defensive players.
The scheme change has been dramatic, and there are still areas in need of a talent upgrade in the offseason. But overall, Davis’ group has made great strides throughout the course of the season.
The leader of the group is DeMeco Ryans, and according to Pro Football Focus, he’s logged more snaps than any other defensive player in football. Ryans is outstanding against the run. That has never been in question. And as we’ve written about at length, he makes the calls on defense to get everyone set up. Without him on the field, there would likely be a lot of confusion up front.
Ryans, however, is not a great cover linebacker. Offenses that can get him matched up man-to-man against a running back or tight end will have an advantage. In zone, Ryans often tries to keep opponents in front of him and limit the damage after the catch.
But there’s another way he’s contributing in coverage too – by disrupting shallow routes over the middle. Read more »
The giddiness in the Eagles’ locker room Tuesday after practice was at an all-time high.
Training camp in July led into the preseason and then 11 straight weeks of practice, game-planning and top-level competition. Chip Kelly’s guys were clearly ready to leave the NovaCare Complex behind for six days and get some free time before they reconvene in preparation for the final five games.
Perhaps no one was more excited to get a break than LeSean McCoy. And for good reason. The Eagles’ running back leads the NFL in carries (213), rushing yards (1,009) and total yards from scrimmage (1,408). Among tailbacks, only Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles has played more snaps, per Pro Football Focus.
While the numbers for McCoy are impressive, this has been a challenging year. He had a four-game stretch where he averaged only 3.4 YPC. Kelly challenged him to dance less and hit the hole more. At times, he was not on the same page as the offensive linemen.
But last week against the Redskins, McCoy was not only the best player on the Eagles’ offense, but his effort in doing the little things jumped off the tape. Read more »
In the days leading up to Sunday’s game, Redskins linebacker London Fletcher was asked if he still thought the Eagles’ offense was more dynamic with Michael Vick than with Nick Foles.
“I would say so,” Fletcher said. “From that standpoint as far as with the run threat, I mean you all know what Vick can do with the ball in his hands if he keeps it as a runner. Again, he’s turned some runs when he keeps the ball, he’s had big gainers in this offense in the past. With Foles, a big gain for him may be 10 yards. With Vick, it may be 40, 50, 60 yards in some cases.”
Fletcher’s response caught some observers by surprise. Foles, after all, had thrown 16 touchdowns and no interceptions on the season. And the Eagles had scored 76 points in their previous two games.
But the veteran linebacker wasn’t trying to slight the Eagles’ second-year QB. He was simply making a couple of points clear.
Number one, Vick is more difficult to prepare for, although that obviously doesn’t make him the better option. And number two, while Foles had been playing well, the Redskins still felt their best option for winning Sunday’s game was to make the him beat them. Read more »
In the last six weeks, the Eagles are allowing just 17.7 points per game.
Before the season started, a stretch like that seemed unlikely. After the team gave up 33 to the Chargers in Week 2 and 52 to the Broncos in Week 4, it seemed even more unlikely.
But Billy Davis, his assistants and the players have turned things around. Overall, the defensive is allowing 24.4 points per game (20th) and 5.6 yards per play (22nd). Football Outsiders still has the Eagles’ D ranked 28th overall.
So while no one would deny that there have been massive improvements from the beginning of the season, the question is: With six games left, where is this defense?
As always, we go to the tape for answers, breaking it down category-by-category. Read more »
Nick Foles’ response struck the right tone.
He knew he had gotten a little lucky. But throwing a 55-yard touchdown in the NFL, regardless of circumstances, is not easy. So he was not about to apologize.
“I need to throw it a little further, but it just so happened that the ball popped up the way it did, and that happens in sports,” Foles said when asked to describe the 55-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson against the Packers. “That happens all the time. Sometimes it doesn’t work out for you. That time it did. And I was very thankful it did.” Read more »
For the better part of five weeks, the run game left LeSean McCoy, the offensive line and the coaching staff somewhat frustrated.
Chip Kelly and company had trouble getting everyone on the same page. McCoy averaged just 3.4 yards-per-carry on 90 attempts from Oct. 6 to Nov. 3. He failed to tally a single run of 20+ yards during that span.
While we spend a lot of time in this space talking about scheme and X’s and O’s, sometimes it’s as simple as the best players doing things the opponent can’t account for.
That brings us to Sunday’s game against the Packers, which was easily one of McCoy’s best performances of the season. There have been seven instances this year where a running back has amassed 150+ yards while averaging 6.0 yards per carry or better. McCoy was the running back on two of those seven.
On Sunday, he carried 25 times for 155 yards (6.2 YPC). The blocking up front was better at times. But during other instances, it was just McCoy doing what he does best: making defenders miss. Read more »
Defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro has a philosophy when it comes to getting his guys prepared: coach during the week, and let them play on Sundays.
For the Eagles, the practice week starts on Tuesday. But that session is primarily spent correcting mistakes from the previous game. Wednesday is when the team puts the pads on and looks ahead to the upcoming opponent.
On most weeks, for the defense, that means an emphasis on stopping the run. While much of the league is focused on figuring out ways to get to the quarterback, Billy Davis has employed a two-gap 3-4 scheme that focuses on controlling the ground game. So when defensive linemen arrive at NovaCare on Wednesdays, the game-planning usually starts with the same idea.
“It’s the beginning of the workload week for us,” said rookie Bennie Logan. “So that’s the main thing going into any game is stop the run, try to get teams as one-dimensional as possible. You figure we stop the run against most teams, that pretty much changes their whole offensive plan. And that’s our main thing Wednesday, we call it our no-run day. So we make sure we focus on our technique, getting our hands on the opponent and make sure they don’t get no big runs on us during practice. Because if they get it in practice, pretty sure they’ll get it in games.
“You get your hands on people, anybody, you can pretty much stop the running game. That’s our main thing when we go into games is make sure we get our hands on our opponent and just control the line of scrimmage so the linebackers can flow.” Read more »
In the days leading up to Sunday’s game against the Raiders, Chip Kelly was asked what his message would be to Nick Foles to get him to rebound from the clunker against the Cowboys.
“Sometimes, as I told Nick, grip it and rip it, let’s go,” Kelly said. “He’s thrown a lot of really good passes since I’ve been around him, and he’s been really good with the football.
“The big thing for him is let’s just get him back in the flow. Let’s get in a rhythm. That’s the biggest thing. Can you get in a rhythm, can you get your feet set, can you throw the ball?”
Answers to those questions came against the Raiders: yes, yes and yes.
After losses to the Cowboys and Giants and a grand total of three points by the offense, Kelly emphasized that there would be no grand scheme changes. The concepts would stay the same, but the execution had to get better.
And it did. To the tune of 49 points in three quarters. So what worked? And why was there such a difference from the previous two weeks? Here’s what we saw from the tape. Read more »
With the Eagles having scored 10 points in their last two games, Chip Kelly told his offense this week to take cues from an unlikely source: the defense.
“I don’t think there’s anything else our offense needs to look at except our defense,” he said. “They’ve stayed the course. They’ve worked continually on their techniques. We haven’t added a lot of new things for those guys. We continue to let them feel comfortable in what we’re doing. On a weekly basis, I see them getting better and better and better.”
Billy Davis and his staff are employing the same tactics they used early in the season, but the results have been vastly different. The Eagles allowed 34.5 points per game in the first month of the season. In the last four weeks, that number is down to 18.3. Granted, strength of opponent has played a major factor, and there’s still a long way to go, but the improvements are showing up on tape, and it starts up front with the defensive line. Read more »