The first time I remember reading about option routes was with the Run ‘n Shoot offense. That offense featured 4 WRs that were spread out, which led to defenses having to play some creative coverages. Rather than having the WRs run static routes, the coaches had options built into plays so that receivers could adjust based on what the defense was doing. In theory, this should lead to a receiver always being open or having a favorable situation.
From a logic standpoint, this is a no-brainer. Coaches should always do something that gives the offense an advantage.
From an execution standpoint, this is very, very tricky. The QB and the WR have to read the same thing on every play. Eagles fans love to pick on Eli Manning for some of his bizarre INTs. Some of those are due to option routes, plays where the WR read one thing and Eli saw another. At that point, the QB is throwing to a spot, not a player.
The QB must have the confidence to throw to a spot. Too often QBs want to throw to a player. It takes discipline, trust, and confidence to throw the ball in anticipation of a receiver being in a certain place. Young QBs struggle with this more than veterans.
How will the Eagles QBs do? I have no idea if Michael Vick will be good at this. We have seen him anticipate some pass plays over the years, but it isn’t something he’s done on a regular basis. Vick certainly has the most experience and should be the most advanced at reading defenses and knowing what’s going on. We’ll find out if that’s the case. From what I’ve read, option routes were a part of Nick Foles offense at Arizona. He and WR Juron Criner were very good with them. Matt Barkley and USC used some option routes, but I don’t think they were a major part of the offense.
How about the Eagles WRs? Option routes will probably be new to DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant, maybe Riley Cooper. Jeremy Maclin may have used them at Missouri. Damaris Johnson should know them from Tulsa. I have no idea if Arrelious Benn has run them. I doubt Ifeanyi Momah did much with them at BC. Basically, this group has a lot of learning to do.
You must understand there will be mistakes. Option routes are a calculated risk. You know sometimes they will lead to incompletions or even INTs. You accept that since the expectation is that they’ll benefit you much more than they’ll hurt you.
What we’re talking about is adjusting to what the DB does. If the DB plays 10 yards off, the WR should run a short route. If the DB presses, the WR should try to get by him deep. If the DB has inside leverage, the WR should break outside. And so on. You are essentially taking what the defense gives you.
I am curious to see how the QBs and WRs execute this.
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Let’s talk about Brandon Graham for a minute. Too many people read the previous post as overly negative.
I can’t stress this enough. Graham had a good showing in 2012. He played well and I’m hoping he’s better in 2013 and beyond. My point wasn’t that he’s a bust or has no shot in the new defense. I do think some people have over-praised what he did last year.
That said, let’s remember who we’re judging him against. Context is always crucial. Since becoming an Eagles fan I’ve seen the following players at DE:
Jason Babin (2011 version)
Those guys were star DEs that offenses had to account for. They could take over games. They produced over the course of a 16-game season. They were stars.
Graham wasn’t on that level last year. His PFF stats are very impressive, but the eyeball test is very different.
I don’t know what Graham will do in 2013. My goal was to understand why he was the backup SAM. Just a week ago I had Graham pegged as the Predator with Trent Cole as his backup. Instead, the coaches have Cole as the Predator and Graham as Connor Barwin’s backup.
Chip Kelly would be quick to point out this is just mid-May and a lot can change. If Graham plays lights out, he’ll start, whether at SAM or Predator. If Graham lives in the backfield, they’ll get him on the field.
I do think it tells us something that Graham is beginning as a backup. Were the coaches not blown away by his 2012 tape? They certainly weren’t blown away by Cole’s great year. Maybe this is simply a motivational ploy to keep Graham fired up. I don’t know why Graham is the #3 pass rusher for now. But he is.
If we’re lucky, Graham, Cole, and Barwin will all play well and this will be a good problem.
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Someone asked about Graham’s agility before the ACL injury. Here is part of a pre-draft write-up that I did:
“There will be plenty of 3-4 teams who value him as a LB. His size and build will be perfect for some schemes. He can play in space if needed. Made a real impressive play against Terrell Pryor in the OSU game. Pryor was on the run. Graham showed great agility and COD skills to handle the fakes and still make a solid tackle in space. Graham is an athletic defender and a top flight pass rusher. His ability showed up in workouts as well. Ran a 4.71 at the Combine. Had a solid showing at the Combine. Only came up short in the VJ (31.5). Great career production. 29.5 sacks and 8 FFs.
Had a monster performance at the Senior Bowl, both practices and in the game. Looked like a dominant player.
1st round prospect. Could go real high if teams are okay with his size and build.”
I don’t think his agility is nearly the same. That doesn’t mean Graham can’t fit into a role as primarily a rush LB. You don’t have to be a great athlete. You must be a functional athlete and good pass rusher.
Be patient. Let’s see how he does.
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The Pats cuts DL Brandon Deadrick and Kyle Love in the past couple of days. Should the Eagles have interest?
Deadrick was claimed by JAX.
Love is a tough subject. He was just diagnosed with Type-2 Diabetes and that helped lead to his being cut. Still, his playing time declined last year. It seems the Pats weren’t thrilled with him. One of the guys he lost time to…Deadrick.
Love was impressive a couple of years ago. His emergence allowed them to move Vince Wilfork away from the NT spot. Vince could play 3-4 DE or 4-3 DT and Belichick could get creative. Love is 6-1, 320 (or more). He is a NT.
I don’t anticipate the Eagles being interested. The Eagles have Isaac Sopoaga at NT. Antonio Dixon is fighting for a roster spot. Bennie Logan is the NT of the future. You could cut Dixon and replace him with Love, but I think the Eagles want to give Dixon a shot. He showed good promise in 2010. He’s back in a scheme that fits his skill set. And he is in the best shape he’s been in in a while.
Remember that the Eagles like Sopoaga. He is a veteran player and natural leader. With Mike Patterson gone, the guys up front need a leader. Sopoaga is a short term player here, but does have value in getting the foundation laid in the new defense and in the way Chip Kelly wants things done. While he hasn’t played for Kelly, Sopoaga isn’t an Andy Reid holdover who will talk about how things used to be. Embracing the new stuff will come easily to him.