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 »

Twitter Mailbag: The Latest On Lane

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Happy Fourth of July to our football family.

We are approaching the two-year mark here at Birds 24/7 (Our first post was on July 23, 2012). The site has been blessed with a smart and loyal and passionate readership since Day 1. We are very proud of the community that has been created and are looking forward to sharing in this upcoming season with you. For now, enjoy the holiday. We have a couple posts scheduled for the weekend in case you need to scratch that itch. Knowing you, you will. That’s why we get along so well.

Now onto the mailbag: Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Bissinger On Foles

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Nick Foles is on the cover of the most recent edition of Philadelphia Magazine, and inside is a profile of the Eagles quarterback by Buzz Bissinger.

Bissinger traveled to Foles’ home town to get a sense of what he was like before he went on to Michigan State and Arizona, eventually landing in Philadelphia.

We thought the profile might be of interest to this audience, so below is the first part. You have to grab the magazine to read the rest.

(We don’t make the rules, but c’mon – $9.90 for the year? That’s the best deal in town! And yes, I’m a company man).

Anyway, here’s the snippet:

Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: The State Of the O-Line

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

On the final day of Eagles minicamp, veteran Todd Herremans was asked if he thought it was realistic for the team to start the same five offensive linemen every game like it did last year.

“Yeah, I think it’s very realistic,” Herremans said. “I know it only happened one other time since I’ve been here, but like I was saying earlier, the way that we take care of our bodies and stuff, I think we were very limited with guys in the training room last year. I don’t think it was a coincidence.”

But if yesterday’s news (T-Mac has the latest here) about Lane Johnson holds up, there will be no repeat performance for all 16 games. Read more »

NFL: No Johnson Suspension Yet

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Lane Johnson could be facing a suspension, but it hasn’t been handed down yet.

Paul Domowitch reported that the right tackle tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and will miss the first four games.

When asked to confirm the report, an NFL spokesperson replied: “We have no information on him.”

Does that mean no suspension has been handed down from the league?

“Correct.”

Johnson is not necessarily out of the woods. Players typically learn of a positive test before the league office. It’s possible, then, that his camp is aware of the failed drug test and it simply hasn’t hit the league offices yet.

Report: Lane Johnson Suspended Four Games

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Eagles starting right tackle Lane Johnson has been suspended four games for testing positive for PEDs, according to Paul Domowitch of the Daily News.

Johnson was the fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft and started all 16 games as a rookie. He struggled in pass protection early on, but improved and played well down the stretch. The Eagles had the same five offensive linemen start all 16 games in 2013, but if the report holds up, that won’t happen again. 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 »

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 »

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