All-22: Close-Up On Kelly’s Use Of the Mesh

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Chip Kelly went into his first year unsure of exactly how opposing defensive coordinators would match up with the Eagles.

What he found out fairly quickly was that the most common strategy was a ton of man coverage. Crowd the box against LeSean McCoy, play with one deep safety and force the Eagles’ passing attack to make plays over the top.

For the most part, Kelly had answers. The offense set franchise records for yards, points and touchdowns. The Eagles also led the league in pass plays of 20+ yards. And one of the most popular concepts the Eagles employed against man coverage was the mesh.

To break down the mesh concept, we called on Villanova wide receivers coach Brian Flinn. Flinn has studied Kelly’s offensive concepts for years and was kind enough to go over the intricacies of this particular one with Birds 24/7.

Meanwhile, Kelly did a film series with PhiladelphiaEagles.com and talked about this play at various points throughout the season. His explanations are also mixed in. Read more »

Three Eagles Numbers That Matter

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Photo by: Jeff Fusco.

Ranging from Darren Sproles’ role to Nick Foles’ future, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.

4.3 – The number of rushing attempts per game Sproles has averaged in the past three seasons. Back in March, we took an All-22 look at what Sproles brings to the table. The conclusion was that he would have a far greater impact as a receiver than as a ball-carrier.

But Chip Kelly seems to have an issue with that assertion. Last week, a reporter started off a question to Kelly by pointing out that the team essentially was bringing on four new receivers (Jeremy Maclin, Jordan MatthewsJosh Huff and Sproles) from a year ago. The head coach interrupted.

“Sproles is not a receiver,” he said. Read more »

Wake-Up Call: Impact Of the Kaepernick Deal

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Last week we asked former agent and salary cap expert Joel Corry about the type of deal Nick Foles might command if he has another strong season in 2014. His response is worth revisiting given what has transpired since.

“Now to get in the game with quarterbacks, you’re going to have to go 18 million per season and close to 50 million in guarantees. [Colin] Kaepernick should get done before  training camp starts. That’s going to be another benchmark Foles is going to point to,” said Corry. “And I can’t see that number coming in below [Jay] Cutler. He wants $20 million per season…I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets it. That’s just going to be another data point to add to the equation to help Foles.”

Sure enough, Kaepernick signed a six-year deal that is reportedly worth $126 million ($21 million per season) and contains $61 million worth of guarantees. [Though the numbers aren't quite what they appear.] He joins a growing list of QBs that have cashed in of late to help set the market. Read more »

Even With Foles, Zone Read Here To Stay

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings
Funny to think how significantly the dynamics of the quarterback situation have shifted over the course of a year.

This time last offseason Michael Vick was splitting first-team reps with Nick Foles. And given the little that we knew about Chip Kelly‘s offense, you couldn’t help but think Vick had the leg up. Day after day we saw the Eagles practice the zone read, over and over. The QB would cross paths with the running back and, depending on how the defense responded, would either complete the handoff or keep it and head for the edge. This didn’t seem to be a particularly good sign for Foles, who once said: “If I can adapt I want to, but I’m not a zone read quarterback. Some people are gifted with different things, that’s just not one of my skill sets.”

Kelly phrased it this way at the beginning of training camp last season: “To be honest with you, if I called 20 read options with Nick Foles in the game, you should fire me.  We’re talking about practice right now.  I think we’ve got to figure out who our quarterback is before we understand the direction of where our offense is going.”

It took some time to get the QB position settled, but it eventually blossomed in the hands of Foles. And while Foles never kept it 20 times in a game (the most rushes he had in a single outing was nine), the zone read didn’t go away. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Eagles ran the zone read 304 times during the regular season — 135 times more than the next highest team. About 60 percent of those came when Vick was out of the lineup. Read more »

Foles: If You Don’t Play Well, You’ll Be Gone

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Chip Kelly doesn’t have to worry about Nick Foles saying the wrong thing. He doesn’t have to concern himself with Foles getting too comfortable or not putting the work in.

It’s one of the reasons the Eagles’ head coach and quarterback connect well.

“The great thing about Nick, what you love about him, it’s the same thing we preach is that he knows he’s never going to arrive,” Kelly said. “I think it’s a great trait to have. Some guys get to where they want a job, and now they kind of kick their feet up and they go on cruise control and that’s not him.”

The numbers have been mentioned in the Delaware Valley hundreds of times this offseason: 29 and 2. Foles’ touchdown to interception ratio fits better in a video game than in real life. But the third-year signal-caller knows it was only one season, and he’s already seen how quickly things can go south in the NFL.

“If I don’t play well, it’s the NFL; you’ll be gone,” he said. “The most important thing is this team being successful, and it’s a team sport, but the quarterback really has to be sharp and execute. I know that. That’s why last year’s stats don’t mean anything because there’s a lot of guys that have a good year and then it’s tough the next year and I know that.” Read more »

Year Two: Can Foles Get Even Better?

Nick Foles

“Year Two” is the popular phrase around Eagles camp right now. Coaches say it, players say it, the media uses it.

Logic tells you yes, after you do something for an entire year, you should be better off the second time around (especially if you did it well). That’s why the Eagles are hopeful they’ll be even better this season despite the losses of DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, in large part because of the experience Nick Foles has under his belt.

“In terms of where Nick is in year two, he’s more comfortable,” Chip Kelly told reporters Thursday at the NovaCare Complex. “I think you can sense it when you see him out on the field.”

Foles is more familiar with the system, as are most of his teammates.

Familiarity does not always lead to improved statistical success, however. Read more »

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