All-22: McCoy’s 3rd-And-15 Run
Chip Kelly admitted afterwards that the call wasn’t part of some grand plan. He was, in fact, deciding to be somewhat conservative and play to the game situation.
The Eagles were down 20-13 in the third quarter against the Colts and facing a 3rd-and-15 from the Indianapolis 31. That’s when Kelly decided to go to old reliable: an inside zone run.
“I was actually thinking if we could get into field goal range,” he said. “They were doing a great job when you get into real long yardage situations… they are going to rush three, they are going to drop everybody in coverage. There are not a lot of holes in there to fit a ball in, so I said, ‘Screw it. Let’s run it and get out of it.’ ”
That was the thought process, but 21 yards later, LeSean McCoy had a first down. Darren Sproles would score from 19 yards out three plays later to tie the game.
The basic premise of the inside zone is simple: Execute double-teams at the point of attack and then slide off and get to the linebackers at the second level.
But what are the rules when there’s nobody to block?
You can see the Colts only have five defenders within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. The plan was to drop everyone back near the first-down marker, cover everything deep and rally and tackle on underneath passes.
But the Eagles decided to run the ball.
You won’t see many All-22 shots like this with the Eagles running inside zone this year. Normally there are seven or eight defenders in the frame by this point.
Instead, for left guard Dennis Kelly and right tackle Andrew Gardner, it was: “Hello? We’re at the second level? Is there anyone here to block? ANYONE??”
Asked if the thought was to just run downfield and hit someone, Dennis Kelly said: “Yeah, because our guys weren’t there so just go and find the next guy.”
“Obviously it’s not a conventional look for that type of play,” said center Jason Kelce. “But we have some set rules in place and stuff like that for when defenses are in that type of position. …We kind of get weird looks with tempo plays. So it’s not too out of the ordinary. Normally they’re not 10 yards back, but I think the whole offensive line did a good job. My job was easy. I just took the nose guard. The guys downfield did a good job of really tracking who they had and everything like that.”
The play was set up nicely for Eagles offensive linemen to take out the deep defenders:
“Everybody’s kind of just standing around,” Gardner said. “Just go up there and block somebody. Coach is like, ‘We hadn’t really practiced that look, but you guys did what I wanted you to do.’ So we were all on the same page.”
But the truth is, other than Todd Herremans, nobody really blocked anyone downfield. Instead, the Colts defenders all pinched inside, and McCoy did a great job of altering his course to find an opening.
As our buddy Coach Flinn likes to say, this is a little BYOB, Be Your Own Blocker.
“When we called it, it was like, ‘OK, we’re just trying to get some yards, make sure we’re not out of field goal range,’ ” said Dennis Kelly. “You see ‘em back off, Cover 8 and say, ‘OK, let’s get some splits and see if we can get downfield and make something happen.’ It worked out to where everyone was on the same page. It wasn’t necessarily a call. Everyone just knew you had to get downfield. Shady made a great play.”
Added Gardner: “You don’t really see that look very often in run period, but it’s awesome to have a back like that who can make a play in that situation. They play for the pass, and McCoy just made a play. That was a great situation.”
In Week 1 against Jacksonville, Kelly called a run on 3rd-and-13, and McCoy picked up 19 yards.
The goal on both occasions was just to get into better field-goal range, but the Eagles will take the results.
“If the defense is gonna play back like that, you can hurt ‘em the way we have the past couple games,” Kelce said. “That might make ‘em play a little more honest in the future.”