Zone Read: Eagles-Bears, the Day After

NFL: Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles

As the Eagles prepared for their final possession Sunday night, Nick Foles stood on the sideline next to tight end Zach Ertz and quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor.

The offense gathered briefly before running onto the field. Foles had a green and black baseball cap on instead of a helmet. He paused his conversation, joined his teammates briefly, put his arm around James Casey and returned to the sideline as Michael Vick took a couple kneel-downs to end the game.

There was a hug from Chris Polk and a handshake from Brent Celek. Foles then made his way past cameras towards midfield to greet the Bears’ quarterbacks as the clock showed triple zeroes. He removed his hat, knelt down for the prayer circle with members from both teams and joined LeSean McCoy for an interview with NBC.

Foles’ performance will not be the first or even second topic of conversation among Eagles fans today. And that’s saying something considering he went 21-for-25 for 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a passer rating of 131.7. Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Vikings

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Here’s a position-by-position review of the Eagles’ offensive performance against the Vikings after having re-watched Sunday’s game.

QUARTERBACKS

* Tough game to critique for Nick Foles. He threw for 428 yards, three touchdowns (one INT) and averaged 8.9 YPA. Normally those are phenomenal numbers. And Foles did have some excellent moments. But I came away thinking he could have closed in on 600 yards. Keep in mind this is without the benefit of the All-22 (not released yet). There were a lot of times where he identified open receivers but was off-target with his throws. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Vikings, the Day After

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Going into Sunday’s game against the Vikings, the Eagles appeared to be peaking at the right time.

They had won five straight, were in the driver’s seat in the NFC East and looked like a team capable of making some noise in the postseason.

Less than 24 hours after kickoff, the outlook has changed a bit. The 48-30 loss to the Vikings was either just one bad letdown game or a true reality check of where this team is.

Keeping that in mind, let’s take a point-by-point look at some of the issues that surfaced in Minnesota, debuting The Kapadia Concern Scale. Each issue is given a ranking from 1 to 10. Read more »

The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Vikings

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles punted four times and turned it over once on their first five possessions last week against the Lions.

After each series, when the offensive players ran off the field and towards the sideline, assistant coaches were waiting for them with questions.

They wanted to know what the conditions were like, why certain things weren’t working and what the Lions were doing defensively.

“You don’t even need to wait until halftime,” said guard Todd Herremans. “We get enough breaks during the game where you come off the field. We had a lot of stuff that was based off of the speed of their ends rushing upfield and penetration of their tackles and stuff. We thought we would be able to take advantage of that, use our speed to our advantage. But obviously during the conditions, they just kind of slowed everybody down and it just became more of a power/downhill game.”

The players let the coaches know that they were slipping, that the Lions’ front four wasn’t getting upfield, that it was difficult to change direction and get to runs which required a certain degree of lateral movement.

And so Chip Kelly and his staff decided to implement some changes. Read more »

All-22: How Foles, Celek Iced the Game

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With two minutes left in Sunday’s game, Chip Kelly put the decision-making power in Nick Foles’ hands.

The offense had called 14 straight run plays. But after Bryce Brown got dropped for a 2-yard loss, the Eagles faced a 4th-and-12. They had the game in hand (up 34-20), but a turnover on downs would have given the Lions at least a slim chance of scoring, kicking an onside kick and scoring again.

The call, like many others in the Eagles’ playbook, gave the quarterback options. He would have to read a key defender and then make a decision post-snap. Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Offense Vs. Lions

Dec 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) hands off to running back LeSean McCoy (25) during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) hands off to running back LeSean McCoy (25) during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lincoln Financial Field. Photo | Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a position-by-position look at what we saw from the Eagles’ offense against the Lions, after having re-watched the game.

QUARTERBACKS

* There was good Nick Foles, and there was bad Nick Foles. Obviously, the weather conditions were a factor. Foles started the game 4-for-13 for 35 yards. When he missed, he generally sailed his throws. That’s what happened on the first-half interception. Foles was also off-target on a hitch to Riley Cooper, and he fired a quick throw to Cooper into the ground. Last week, on the same throw, Foles fired the pass over Cooper’s head. Both attempts came with him under center. I think that has something to do with it. That’s an easier throw when you’re in shotgun and can just take the snap and fire. Read more »

The Matchup: Eagles Vs. Lions

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia EaglesChip Kelly might not admit it, but he has favorites.

Players whose names he will bring up unprompted. Guys he’ll go out of his way to mention as underrated or under-appreciated. And atop that list this year has been tight end Brent Celek.

On the surface, Celek’s numbers are unimpressive: 23 receptions for 319 yards. He’s on pace for his lowest per-game averages since 2008 in both categories. But there are plenty of reasons why Kelly has sung Celek’s praises all year long.

“I think Chip respects guys that give everything they’ve got on every single play when you’re out there,” Celek said. “I respect everything that he’s done. Everything that he does makes sense, and you as a football player, that’s what you want. You want answers to some of your questions, and he answers those. And everything he wants you to do, it all makes sense.”

The strong relationship between Celek and Kelly was no given during the offseason. The seventh-year tight end was an Andy Reid loyalist. Even as things fell apart last season, Celek stood at his locker after every game and defended his head coach.

Meanwhile, after Kelly was hired, he made moves to bolster Celek’s position, signing James Casey in free agency and drafting Zach Ertz in the second round. Those moves could have rubbed Celek the wrong way and put his standing with the team in question, but Kelly made sure that was a non-issue. Read more »

Three Eagles Leftovers

NFL: Washington Redskins at Philadelphia EaglesDoes Chip Kelly sleep in the office? What was the deal with Brent Celek and Riley Cooper low-fiving in the end zone? Here are three leftovers from today’s session at the NovaCare Complex.

1. John Harbaugh recently chronicled his entire workweek in an ESPN The Magazine feature. Harbaugh noted that he spent three nights a week on the office couch at the team facility.

“Sleeping at the office is about maximizing my time,” Harbaugh said. “I can get more done if I eliminate time I’d spend driving home. Plus, if I come home too late, chances are I’ll wake up my wife.”

So, what about Kelly? Does he sleep over at the NovaCare Complex? Read more »

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 »

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