Inside Zone: The Foundation Of the Eagles’ Offense

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Before the drill begins, Jeff Stoutland shouts out a two-digit number, signaling the call to his offensive linemen.

He sets up a couple yards behind the line of scrimmage as Jason Kelce prepares to snap the ball, flanked by guards Evan Mathis and Todd Herremans. With 16 offensive linemen in camp, Stoutland is in charge of the largest positional group on the roster. But that can be a good thing on days like this. Before it’s their turn for reps, a couple backups hold orange blocking pads and set up as down defensive linemen. Two more stand behind them imitating linebackers.

It’s an 81-degree day in early June, and the Eagles are on the practice fields at the NovaCare Complex working on the blocking scheme for a familiar call: the inside zone. It’s a play Stoutland ran frequently at his previous stop, Alabama. And it was Chip Kelly’s go-to-work play during his time at Oregon.

When Kelly made the jump to the NFL last year, the inside zone served as the foundation for an offense that set franchise records in yards and points. So there’s a good reason why Stoutland yells the same number for the same call over and over again during practice. The pre-snap communication has to be mastered. The footwork has to be flawless. The combination blocks have to be executed. And the second-level linebackers have to be driven down the field with authority.

“It’s something we work on every day,” said offensive tackle Lane Johnson. “It’s always gonna be our bread and butter.” Read more »

Johnson: Rookie Dinner Bill ‘No Big Deal’

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Lane Johnson doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

Over the weekend, the Eagles’ second-year right tackle Tweeted out a dinner receipt from Del Friscos that totaled $17,746.86. The Tweet got picked up by a number of outlets and blew up more than Johnson anticipated.

“It was kind of my idea, keep the tradition going,” Johnson said. “I didn’t pay the whole bill. I got help from Todd [Herremans] and Evan [Mathis], so just something I did for them. Ain’t no big deal to me.

“I probably should have gave it some clarity. When I Tweeted it out, all I said was ‘rookie dinner.’ And they think I got pressured into doing it – this, that and the other. But that’s alright.” Read more »

Bamiro, Now At Guard, Fighting For Spot

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Michael Bamiro spent a large portion of Monday’s OTA holding a rectangular orange blocking pad. As one of 16 offensive linemen competing for about half as many spots, it acted as his entry pass so he too could jump into drills and prove to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland he’s more than just a practice player.

“I’m really just doing whatever I can to get myself on that field,” Bamiro said. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: DeMeco’s Role Unlikely To Change

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

During one of the teach periods on Monday, defensive coordinator Billy Davis called for the first-team nickel to take the field and line up against trash cans that simulated the offense.

Brandon Boykin came on the field, and Bennie Logan walked off. But at linebacker, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks stayed put.

Chip Kelly said earlier this offseason that adding depth at inside linebacker was a priority. But the Eagles didn’t see anybody they liked in free agency. In the first round of the draft, they would have loved for Alabama’s C.J. Mosley to fall to them, but that didn’t happen either.

So for now, the plan seems to be to stick with the same guys from a year ago.

“Right now, it’s still the same personnel,” Ryans confirmed. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Kelce On Culture Change

Jason Kelce

Jason Kelce has developed into a respected voice over his three-plus years in Philadelphia, so his comments regarding the team’s decision to move on from DeSean Jackson — delivered just 20 minutes after the receiver was cut — carried some weight.

Some took this as evidence that Jackson’s teammates were glad to see the enigmatic receiver go. This theory was bolstered by a report — filled with anonymous quotes allegedly coming from various  members of the organization — suggesting Jackson was a “blatantly insubordinate” distraction that needed to be removed. Kelce was quick to distance himself from those who did not attach their names to their opinions (“You’ll never see me hide behind the title ‘Unnamed source,’” he said), and on Monday explained the intended meaning of his message as the clouds of controversy swirled outside the NovaCare walls. Read more »

Eagles Exit Draft Without O-Line Help

NFL: Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles
Dagger. Dagger in the heart. 

Those were the words of Howie Roseman when, moments after the 2014 NFL Draft concluded, a reporter brought up the fact that the Eagles came away with no offensive linemen.

“I firmly believe in building on the line of scrimmage.  That’s kind of how I was raised in the National Football League,” the general manager said. “I thought we’d have some opportunities to get some o‑linemen, but there was a run in the third round that was like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life.  It was like ‑‑ I don’t know, if someone gave me the numbers, it was like player after player after player, and it was like ‑‑ all of a sudden we looked back up and our board was depleted, and we weren’t going to reach.  That hurt because we went in thinking that we’d get some guys.” Read more »

Kelly’s Influence Felt Behind the Scenes

NFL: NFC Wildcard Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

In the days leading up to the scouting combine, the NFL sent out a media schedule detailing when coaches and general managers would hold press conferences at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

In the release, nine coaches were missing: Chip Kelly, Bill Belichick, Joe Philbin, Mike Tomlin, John Harbaugh, Mike McCoy, Jason Garrett, Sean Payton and Pete Carroll.

Among that group, seven ended up eventually deciding to chat at one point or another (even if it was only to the team’s Web site or a single media outlet). The exceptions? Tomlin and Kelly.

Last offseason, Kelly was available at the Senior Bowl, the combine and any time the Eagles made significant personnel moves (re-signings, free agents, etc.). This year, we haven’t heard from him since the day after the season ended.

Instead, he has taken more of a behind-the-scenes approach. But Kelly’s fingerprints were on every move the team made last week. Read more »

Jason Kelce, Sweatpants And $37.5 Million

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos

Jason Kelce was asked Thursday afternoon why he opted for a seven-year deal instead of something shorter.

“Why seven years? I don’t really know,” Kelce said. “They told me what the numbers were, and I was like, ‘That sounds pretty good to me.’ I think the longer for me the better because I really, truly don’t want to play for any other organization. I’m happy with this city, this team, these coaches. I’m really excited to be here and I have been since Day One.” Read more »

Riley Cooper: ‘I’m Proud Of Myself’

NFL: NFC Wildcard Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles

The backdrop behind Riley Cooper had changed from where he stood on July 31.

On that day, he was outside the NovaCare Complex with a brick wall behind him and microphones shoved aggressively in his face. His future with the franchise that drafted him seemed very much in question. Hours before he spoke, a video had surfaced of Cooper using a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert. Now it was time to face the music and answer question after question about the incident, his status with the team, his relationship with his peers and more.

Thursday afternoon, however, carried a different feel. Some seven months later, Cooper stood in the hallway at the NovaCare Complex in a grey hoodie, black shorts and black sneakers. The reporters were now asking about his career year in 2013 and his promising future in Chip Kelly’s offense. Read more »

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