All-22: Eagles Add Zone-Read Wrinkle

sift2b_all22_400Asked 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 »

Offense Game Review: 10 Observations

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia EaglesHere are 10 observations after having re-watched the Eagles’ performance on offense against the Arizona Cardinals:

1. Let’s start with Nick Foles and the positives. He continues to look comfortable in the offense, even though there were some bumps in the road this week. Final numbers: 21-for-34 for 237 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Foles now has 19 TDs and no picks on the season. On the first drive, he did a great job of seeing where the blitz was coming from and finding Brent Celek for a 16-yard gain on third down. On the first touchdown, he made an excellent throw to Zach Ertz in the corner of the end zone after faking the toss to LeSean McCoy. Later, he connected with Ertz on a 22-yarder. Watching live, I thought his pass was high, but the replay showed Foles put the ball where only Ertz could get it as the linebacker tried to step in front. Foles is a master of setting up the screen and waiting until the right moment to deliver the football. He connected with McCoy for a 19-yard pickup on a screen in the second. One of his best throws of the game was to DeSean Jackson for a 25-yard gain on a wheel route down the right sideline. In the third, Foles delivered a strike to Cooper for 16 yards, and his throw to Ertz on the post in the end zone was on the money. Read more »

Kelly’s TE Focus Pays Dividends

It didn’t take long to figure out Chip Kelly‘s offensive strategy against Arizona. Have a look at the play-by-play from the Eagles’ opening drive:

1st and 10 at AZ 25 N.Foles pass short left to B.Celek pushed ob at ARZ 22 for 3 yards.
2nd and 7 at AZ 22  N.Foles pass incomplete short left to B.Celek.
3rd and 7 at AZ 22 N.Foles pass short middle to B.Celek to ARZ 6 for 16 yards
1st and 6 at AZ 6 N.Foles pass short right to Z.Ertz for 6 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

See a pattern there?
Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Cardinals, the Day After

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia EaglesChip Kelly stood at the podium late Sunday afternoon and prepared to answer questions about his team’s performance against the Arizona Cardinals.

“It looked like the offense had a lot of trouble after that touchdown drive to start the second half-” a reporter started before Kelly interrupted.

“Can we go positive with the first question on a win?” he joked.

About 10 minutes later, the Eagles’ locker room opened up to reporters, and while it was clear that players were happy to have gotten a win, they knew there were plenty of mistakes that needed to be corrected.

After putting together an impressive 13-play, 82-yard drive to start the third quarter, the offense stalled in a big way. The Eagles totaled 22 yards (not counting penalties or kneel-downs) on six drives. They managed just five first downs during that stretch and did not move more than 16 yards on any single possession.

“We try to stay out of this situation,” said LeSean McCoy. “We just have to do a better job of closing out the game. We have gone through this a couple of times and we just have to do a better job.” Read more »

Self-Scouting: Taking Stock Of the Offense

Eagles QB Nick Foles evades the Cowboys' rush. 10/20/13NFL coaches often use the term “self-scouting” when answering questions about their bye-week plans.

With no game to prepare for and players away from the team facility, it’s a chance to evaluate which areas of the team need to be adjusted going forward.

Keeping that in mind, here’s a position-by-position look at where things stand with the Eagles through 11 games and what changes might be on the way going forward. We’ll start with the offense and do the defense in the next installment.

QUARTERBACK

Nick Foles has been lights-out, having completed 63.6 percent of his passes (10th) with 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Foles has made good decisions, looks comfortable in the offense and has connected on downfield throws. He’s averaging 9.59 yards per attempt. To put that number into perspective, since 1957, only two other quarterbacks have averaged at least 9.5 yards per attempt (minimum 150 passes): Kurt Warner (9.88 in 2000) and Chris Chandler (9.65 in 1998). Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Celek And the Sports Science Factor

Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The media hit the sports science angle pretty hard on Tuesday before players  took off to enjoy their bye week. With a grueling 11 weeks in the books and the stretch run fast approaching,  there is a natural curiosity about whether Chip Kelly‘s methods have led to fresher bodies, and if the Eagles will hold some kind of advantage over the competition in December because of their meticulous training, conditioning and recovery program.

Opinions vary. Some players and coaches insist it’s been a big difference-maker. Billy Davis said he’s “amazed at the energy and the lack of soft-tissue injuries.”

Cary Williams, meanwhile, said he feels no different at this point in the year than he has in the past. That there are players all across the league that are doing the necessary things to take care of their bodies — it just doesn’t get the attention like it does here in Philly under Kelly.

Pat Shurmur looks at one player in particular to gauge whether the approach is a success. Read more »

Offense Game Review: 10 Observations

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia EaglesHere are 10 observations on the Eagles’ offense after having re-watched the game.

1. The one word I would use to describe Nick Foles is comfortable. He was calm in the pocket, delivered the football on-target and did a great job on the little things like setting up screens. Foles threw a beautiful ball to DeSean Jackson in between Redskins defenders for 19 yards in the first. He connected with Zach Ertz for a 15-yard pickup and lofted one to LeSean McCoy for 49 yards down the sideline. In the second, Foles motioned Bryce Brown to the right, pump-faked to him and then came back to Brent Celek for a 42-yard gain on a screen. In the third, he delivered a nice ball to Ertz, but the rookie dropped it. That was no issue for Foles, who came right back to him on the very next play for a 16-yard gain. Overall, 17-for-26 for 298 yards. He easily could have had three touchdowns, but receivers were brought down inside the 5. Foles’ play was not the issue in the second half. He wasn’t asked to pass a lot, but still went 8-for-11 for 81 yards. Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Packers

foles_400_111113Here’s a position-by-position look at what we saw from the Eagles’ offense against the Packers.

QUARTERBACKS

* I thought Nick Foles played great against Oakland. This was a bit of an uneven performance. I know that seems crazy to say, considering he posted a 149.3 passer rating, but I’ll try to explain.

* There were a couple decisions that could have been costly. In the second quarter, Foles was being pressured and just launched a pass up for grabs. It was in the direction of DeSean Jackson, but there were defenders nearby. The ball landed incomplete as Jackson couldn’t find it in the sun, but it was a dangerous throw. In the third, Foles made an awkward throw to Jason Avant, stepping into it with his right foot. It ended up being a 23-yard completion, but just as easily could have been picked off.

* The first touchdown to Jackson was obviously flukey. Jackson had the corner beat, and the Packers had a single high safety, but Foles underthrew him. Chip Kelly said today that the wind played a factor on the pass. Read more »

All-22: How Foles And the Offense Rebounded

all22_400In 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 »

Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Raiders

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland RaidersHere’s a position-by-position review of what we saw from the Eagles’ offense this week.

QUARTERBACKS

* Not sure what else there is to say about Nick Foles. He was spectacular, completing 22 of 28 passes for 406 yards and seven touchdowns. Two things really stood out when I re-watched the offense. One, Foles was willing to take shots downfield. And two, he did an outstanding job of buying time with his feet to create space. On the Eagles’ opening drive, they faced a 3rd-and-13. Foles could have easily checked the ball down, but instead fired a pass to Jeff Maehl in traffic over the middle for a 19-yard gain. That had to be big for his confidence.

* Foles did a great job of looking defenders off all game long. In the first, he looked to LeSean McCoy in the flat, drew a defender and then hit Zach Ertz for a first down. The 17-yard TD to Riley Cooper down the left sideline was a beauty. Foles let go of the ball while Cooper was covered and let his receiver make a play. He later found Cooper for a 63-yard bomb. Read more »

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