More On Andy & Complexity

Posted: June 16th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , | 15 Comments »

We had a discussion yesterday and earlier today about Andy Reid and his love of trying to outsmart opponents.  Some people like Andy’s way of doing things.  I agree, but think he does it too much.

I really believe that last line is the key point.  Running a complex scheme and being creative are good things.  However, all things are best in moderation.  As the Bible states, “There is a time to reap.  A time to sow.  A time to be complex.  A time to let your playmakers do their thing.”

Trent Dilfer talked several times last season about his days playing for Tony Dungy.  He thought highly of Tony as a person, but hated…HATED…the Dungy offense.  Tony wanted to run the ball, punt, and play defense.  Guess what?  That doesn’t win titles.

The obvious counter is to point out the 2000 Ravens.  So great, one team in the last 15 years was able to do it.  Like those odds, 1/15?  Bill Cowher tried for years to win with the formula of running the ball and playing good defense.  He didn’t break through and win the Super Bowl until Big Ben arrived.  I know Ben was terrible in the game, but he played well that year.

You want to win with running and defense?  You better have one of the great defenses of all time.  Since that’s not likely, you better get creative.  Andy is smart to use his brains and come up with an offensive system that can do a lot of things.

The problem is that there are times when you must be basic.  Remember the 2001 NFC title game?  The Rams offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders in the 1st half.  In the 2nd half they came out and ran Marshall Faulk right down our throats.  There was nothing fancy.  Martz lined up in jumbo packages and ran on us.  That gave them the lead and control of the game.

Think back to the Super Bowl that the Rams won.  There is a great NFL Films clip where Dick Vermeil instructs Martz to run more because he thinks Kurt Warner’s got a tired arm.

Martz is famous for running a complex system.  He does all kinds of crazy things.  He still does understand from time to time that there is a need to simplify.  The Bears offense was struggling early on, especially the O-line.  Martz started having them run more and the balanced attack led to a much more productive offense.  They killed us.

I’m not strictly calling on Andy to run more.  We’ve had that discussion 655, 321 times over the years.  I do want more balance, but I’ll even settle for less trickery in the passing game.  Instead of rolling to the right in the Red Zone how about throwing a slant pass?  How about throwing a fade pass?

Again, I’m not asking Andy to switch the offense in a major way.  Complex overall is a good thing.  The point is that there are times when trying to trick the opponent isn’t the way to go.  I thought that a reader comment yesterday from mcud offered good insight.

At the end of the day, you have to be able to let your players do what they do, and let the chips fall where they may.

Would Hickory have won the state title if they had run the picket fence (or whatever Gene Hackman wanted to run) instead of just letting Chitwood do what he was born to do? Maybe the decoy would have worked, but I think scheme gets you only so far, and then you have to let guys be the men they are, for better or for worse. At crunch time, spread the floor, allow your guy to be better than the other guy.


In the key moments of a game you cannot consistently rely on trickery.  You must execute basic plays.  You must rely on your players to make plays.  Every now and then you mix in a good fake and hit the TE down the middle for a big gain.  But that fake has to be set up by running the ball over and over.  The slant ‘n go only works really well if you run enough slants.

Andy’s style of offense has led to a lot of points and a lot of big plays.  It can still be better by working on more efficient execution of basic plays.  I have no doubt that we’ll be amongst league leaders in TD passes of more than 50 yards this year.  I’m more concerned with what we do the first time we face 3rd/6 against a good defense late in the game.  The long TDs will set records and help you win some games.  Executing the basic plays in crucial situations will help you win championships.

Andy made an interesting comment in his chat yesterday.  Look at the question and answer.

Comment From Chris East Falls: What are you going to do differently this year so that Brent Celek gets involved more?
Andy Reid:
We did a great job with our down the field throws last season. Our short to intermediate game we need to go back and look at that and point a more emphasis on that.

Is Andy talking about short passes to Brent Celek or short passes in general?  There was no follow-up and I’d love to know what he means.  I hope he means we need a better short / intermediate passing game overall.  That’s an area where we were great at times, but not good enough on a consistent basis.  And part of short / intermediate passes is just executing basic plays.

The 2011 offense  could be the greatest Eagles offense of all time.  I’m really intrigued to see if Reid and Vick are able to take the next step.

* * * * *

Les Bowen had a good article on Eagles RG Danny Watkins yesterday.  One part really stood out to me.

The qualities that have made Watkins valuable to the West Kelowna firefighters – not just the brute strength, but the presence of mind, the focus, the resolve and composure under pressure – also helped make him the Eagles’ first-round draft choice in April, 23rd overall. It wasn’t a happenstance pick, because someone else was already taken. The Eagles had called the Watkinses a week before and said they’d likely draft Danny in the first round if New England didn’t get him first, choosing six slots earlier.

Does that change the way any doubters feel about the pick, knowing the Eagles planned on Watkins as far as a week before the draft.  The draft is always a fluid situation, but obviously he was a prime target.

15 Comments on “More On Andy & Complexity”

  1. 1 Dewey said at 4:03 PM on June 16th, 2011:

    What I find interesting in that blurb from Les Bowen’s piece is the intimation of how comprehensive the Eagles’ draft knowledge is. Obviously Reid and Belichick have a nice simpatico, but the blurb implies that Roseman and Reid felt that no other teams were that high on Watkins.

    I guess the Patriots interest is, on a secondary level, also a nice affirmation. I wonder if the Eagles were high on Solder conversely.

  2. 2 mcud said at 4:36 PM on June 16th, 2011:

    Re: Watkins

    As one of the most vocal critics of the pick, I feel compelled to say that it isn’t the player that I dislike, its the strategy. Watkins needs to play at a Pro Bowl level immediately for the pick to make sense to me with regard to his age and the importance of his position. While I am happy that the Eagles really, really like Danny, I find no comfort in the fact that the logic behind the pick is questionable at best for me.

  3. 3 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:05 PM on June 16th, 2011:

    @ mcud…

    My sources tell me that Watkins has been awesome in all of the mini-camps so far this year. He’s driving defenders off the ball as if they aren’t even there.

    Don’t you miss the mini-camp hype machine???

    I do understand your point. We’ll see how Danny does. He’s already pegged as the starting RG so that tells you the team has high expectations.

    I’ll semi-steal a quote from Kent Brockman. “I can say without hyperbole that Watkins will be a million times better RG than Cole/Jean-Gilles”.

    (borrowed from Camp Krusty episode … “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been to Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together. “

  4. 4 mcud said at 5:32 PM on June 16th, 2011:

    Further paraphrasing that episode…

    “I want to go to Camp Super Bowl. Take me take me take me there right now. NOW!!! NOW!!! NOW!!! NOW!!! NOW!!!”

    And in honor of Danny Watkins’ homeland:

    Homer: “Marge, anybody could forget about Canada. All tucked away down there…”

  5. 5 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:46 PM on June 16th, 2011:

    Well done, sir.

  6. 6 Cliff said at 7:21 PM on June 16th, 2011:

    You two news to get your head back in the game.

  7. 7 Stephen said at 9:59 PM on June 16th, 2011:

    Off topic but anyone else see Lesean Mccoy tweeting about Osi? I’d rather he not give anyone on the Giants any extra motivation!

  8. 8 Cafone said at 12:48 AM on June 17th, 2011:


    We’ve tried the immediate pro bowler, I’d rather have a solid 10 year starter.

  9. 9 Name said at 1:10 AM on June 17th, 2011:

    They’d better get a good CB for the draft to make sense. The problem with getting locked in on a player is you aren’t flexible enough to grab the value that falls, but reach a little for your targets. The most significant non-moves being not trading up to grab Amukamara before the Giants did and not taking Brandon Harris in the 2nd, which both make sense if you get a good CB some other way.

    The late picks are growing on me: when Dion Lewis was called I did the normal ‘slow for a scat back, doesn’t return kicks, can’t block, not a great receiver’ – which is why he didn’t get recruited much out of high school and dropped in April. The undrafted Arian Foster, tho much bigger, gives an idea of what value you get when you find someone who can cut back and read the holes well. I also like Marsh and Kelce.

  10. 10 ppk said at 9:32 AM on June 17th, 2011:


    I strongly agree with what you wrote in your first post about Watkins. Also, I don’t buy any of the hype implying that because he’s a fireman “his enemies will go blind from over-exposure to pure awesomeness.”

  11. 11 Dtown said at 10:14 AM on June 17th, 2011:

    I honestly don’t see much wrong with Andy’s reliance on complexity. If he relied quite heavily on gadget plays such as flea-flickers, I would definitely have a problem with that since there is an increased possibility of an unforced turnover. So, I’m wondering why one of Andy’s red zone pass plays could be less effective than running a slant route. Is this because players could mess up their assignments as could be the case with McDermott’s defense? A little clarification would be helpful.

    Also, I wonder if Andy’s propensity not to run as often during obvious running downs (such as 3rd and short) has as much to do with personnel as with anything else. I think I would be reluctant to run in such situations with that OL, Celek, and especially without Weaver.

  12. 12 fran35 said at 10:31 AM on June 17th, 2011:

    Hey Tommy,
    Hate to post a question/comment off topic, but do you think the Eagles really make a run at Reggie Bush? I really, really hope that they spend the money elsewhere. I do not want to take any touches from Shady. Using the rationale of giving him had Halls’ touches is hogwash. The guy barely tocuhed the ball last season. While Reggie is a good PR/KR, he will probably demand top dollar and he is just not worth it. I would rather spend that money on defense.

  13. 13 Travis McGee said at 11:19 AM on June 17th, 2011:

    My memory of that second half sequence against the Rams is, time after time, Mike Caldwell came through unblocked and had a clean shot at Faulk as he cut back and, time after time, Faulk went past him like he wasn’t there. Jim Johnson could not have drawn up the defense any better.

  14. 14 mcud said at 12:01 PM on June 17th, 2011:


    Allow me to be devil’s advocate for a moment.

    The Eagles loved Reggie coming out of college. Loved him. I’m told, “top guy on their entire board kind” of loved him.

    Signing Reggie means that your offense can still keep its functionality should Shady get hurt. Frankly, I’m terrified of the thought of counting on Dion Lewis, Eldra Buckley, or even James Harrison for more than a few snaps per game. Reggie isn’t some kind of workhorse runner to be sure, but with the offense we run, he’s a terrific fit.

    Even if Shady stays healthy, Reggie prolongs Shady’s career by reducing the amount of touches LeSean gets. That goes for DeSean as well, as Reggie could take PR duties off of Jackson’s plate.

    Reggie is far from perfect, and will always be a gadget player, but he would make our team better, and give protection in case of injury. Nobody could dispute that. Perhaps it would be better to have a big bruiser to complement LeSean, but until the Eagles seriously consider bringing one in, the debate is Reggie vs. our backups. Reggie is better.

  15. 15 fran35 said at 1:41 PM on June 17th, 2011:

    Ok, I will conceed that Bush will bring something to the offense. However, here is my point: We have never used our back up RBs in a regular role. I disagree that the thought of Harrison playing extended minutes is frightening. In his extremely limited role last year, the guy showed alot. He also showed alot with Cleveland. Even when we had Buckhalter–extremely under utilized his career here–we did not use him much. This was after the guy proved a capable blocker and good receiver.
    I just do not think paying Bush the amount he will demand would be money spent wisely.