The idea that a football team would be getting physically stronger as the season goes along seems counter-intuitive. The Eagles are 13 games into their campaign. Add training camp into the equation, and the grind has been going on for more than four months now. You would think the body would start wearing down right about now. Yet some players believe the opposite is happening in Year One under Chip Kelly.
“You can tell just from the reps that we do. I’m not saying that I’m just jumping up crazy, but what used to be hard to me is starting to become a lot easier towards the end,” said Brandon Graham. “Like the other day I put 405 on the bench [and did three sets of three] and it was pretty easy, and I feel like next week I want to go up a little more because that’s how good I feel right now.” Read more »
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.
* 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 »
Chip Kelly and his coaching staff worked all week on a special gameplan to neutralize the aggressiveness of the Detroit Lions’ defensive front.
Screens, draws, read-plays that would have left linemen unblocked. Those were all part of the plan as of Sunday morning.
“We had a lot of plays in the gameplan to attack their scheme and attack a lot of their explosion and things like that,” said center Jason Kelce. “I was excited to run them coming into the game because I thought they were awesome. But the weather really took them out of their typical way that they played football because they couldn’t get their footing, they couldn’t get upfield as fast.
“I think the coaches got to some more downhill stuff and some more vanilla stuff where we could just kind of get together and get double teams and get moving vertically.”
The word vanilla has been used in the past as a jab at Kelly’s offense. On Sunday, vanilla was what saved the Eagles. Read more »
Chip 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 »
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 »
Here 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 »
Chip 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 »
NFL 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.
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 »
Here 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 »
After the Eagles’ 15-7 loss to the Giants in Week 8, Chip Kelly’s message to his team carried a tone of optimism.
The offense had managed just three points in two weeks. Outsiders were taking jabs at Johnny College Coach left and right. And the quarterback situation appeared to be a complete mess.
But Kelly wasn’t about to make any drastic changes. The focus would be on better execution, not the scheme.
“I think we stuck to what we like to do,” said wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
“One thing I can say about Chip is he’s not really into switching up too many things. He feels very confident and comfortable with the system and what we’re able to do out there. At times, teams do a good job of challenging us, but just sticking with it and getting the same opportunities and just knowing maybe one time they might guard us or they might be on our play, but as long as we’re able to keep grinding on it and stick with what we know to do, eventually it’s gonna open up.”
And it did. The Eagles put up 76 points in their next two games. They now find themselves in a first-place tie with the Cowboys, and the offense appears to be on a roll. Read more »