Can the Offense Stay Elite?

Posted: February 6th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 85 Comments »

I don’t think anyone would dispute the success of the Eagles offense in 2013. Chip Kelly brought in his up-tempo attack from Oregon and delivered great results. The Eagles set a franchise record for points in a season. LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushing. Nick Foles had one of the highest QB ratings in NFL history. And on and on and on.

It hasn’t started yet, but something tells me that we’ll see more than a few “the NFL will figure out Kelly’s offense” articles this offseason. There were skeptics last year. They were proven wrong, but the group can now twist their initial doubts and focus on the idea that NFL coaches will be able to shut down the Eagles since they’ve seen the offense.

That notion is wrong.

Kelly’s offense isn’t based on trickery. It does involve options, which people mistake for trickery.

On a given play, the QB will have the option to hand the ball off or keep it, to throw a quick screen to the outside or to hit the TE over the middle with a pop pass. That’s not a trick play. Kelly doesn’t have players doing unorthodox things. He simply has designed a play where the QB has multiple options. The theory is that there should always be a hole in the defense. It is up to the QB to make the right read and get the ball to that person quickly.

Heck, even the RB has options. He can run the ball to the playside or cutback. Again, this isn’t a trick. That’s basic football. If the defense is too aggressive, they can get burned on the backside.

Kelly does mix in some tricks. The OL line up to the outside at times. He uses unbalanced lines. The Eagles lined up DeSean Jackson in the backfield. They ran one reverse. They had Brad Smith at QB for a couple of plays. The tricks are few and far between. The base offense is built on old school principles. Let’s run the ball. Let’s find a mis-match and exploit it, whether in the run game or passing game.

Defenses can’t really solve Kelly’s offense. They can beat it. They can stop it. But not solve it. If executed properly, the Kelly offense should have a favorable matchup on just about every play. That’s because of the options.

This isn’t the same thing as Peyton Manning going to the LOS and calling an audible. If you can figure out his signals, you can get a big jump on his offense. Peyton is making the read before the snap. Kelly has his QB making the read after the snap. Obviously the QB looks at the defense before the snap to get an idea of where he should go, but he’s going to react to what the defense does after the snap.

Defenses can stop Kelly’s offense by controlling the LOS. It is crucial for Kelly to have a good OL. That allows him to use his skill players as runners and receivers, not blockers. You saw Stanford do this to Oregon in 2012. They won the game up front. Marcus Mariota didn’t have a chance to use the options on a given play due to pressure.

Defenses that can play tight man coverage can make things tough on the Eagles. That takes away most of the quick screens and limits the QB’s options on a given play. Kelly has adjustments for that, but none are as effective as the quick screen.

One concern that there could be with Kelly’s offense is how it would function with backups. The Eagles got lucky this year that 3 of the top 4 WRs stayed healthy. The top 2 TEs stayed healthy. Shady stayed healthy. All offenses suffer when starters go out, but some fare better than others. The Eagles offense was terrible vs Dallas and the Giants, when there were issues at QB. I know we saw some bad games with backups running the Andy Reid offense, but 3 points in 2 games is pretty darn awful. Let’s hope that won’t be the case in the future.

Kelly and the coaches will make some adjustments to the playbook for 2014. They have a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. They might also have some new ideas, from watching other teams or talking to other coaches. Kelly tweaked his offense at New Hampshire and Oregon. No matter how smart the guys he went up against, Kelly always stayed a step ahead of them.

Kelly is a very smart coach and his ability to adapt and come up with moves and counter-moves has helped him to remain one of the leading offensive minds in the game of football.

It will be very interesting to see how the 2014 offense looks. Will it be even better? Will defenses slow it down? There are no guarantees that the Eagles will put up the same kind of numbers, but I think the notion that defenses will solve the offense are way off the mark.

* * * * *

I want to make one other point in regard to the Broncos and Eagles. Peyton Manning made some players look like major stars. Clearly those guys aren’t all at that level. This is especially true of the OL. Without LT Ryan Clady, who is a top player, Denver got exposed. They weren’t able to block the DEs for long. Most of the year Peyton was able to throw the ball to open receivers or at least dump the ball off to a shallow receiver. Those guys got RAC yards. Seattle pressed and didn’t let the receivers get open quickly. When they did play off and the Broncos caught the ball on short routes, Seattle closed to the ball immediately and eliminated RAC yards.

The Broncos simple formula for great offense was undone because of poor blocking more than anything. I think the lack of a speedy receiver also limited them. Denver has big guys, but Seattle has big DBs. That matchup hurt most teams, but not the Seahawks.

The Eagles have a nice balance with Riley Cooper and DeSean Jackson. They can be big or fast. I’d love to see Coop and Jeremy Maclin return so we could see just how good that group could be.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. The slot receiver in the Kelly offense isn’t a typical slot guy. Mac, Coop and DJax could all share that role. This offense could use all 3 guys together and it would be a natural fit. I hope we get to see it.


85 Comments on “Can the Offense Stay Elite?”

  1. 1 Jamie Parker said at 8:08 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    Using Ashley Fox’s criteria, it was figured out after the first 2 quarters of the season.

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 8:24 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    So true.

  3. 3 TommyLawlor said at 8:24 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    A bit of humor.

  4. 4 disqus_jB7dl5fzvO said at 8:25 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    That’s because Nick Foles played in the Pro Bowl. Take notes, Mr. Goodell.

  5. 5 theycallmerob said at 12:53 AM on February 7th, 2014:


  6. 6 Daniel Norman Richwine said at 8:37 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    Chip Kelly’s offense changed mid season from a 3 WR to a 2 TE set. If defenses adapt, so will he, he’s an offensive and football genius.

  7. 7 Sean said at 8:50 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    I really think the offense will improve so much by having 3 legitimate WRs, including 2 with good speed. Last year, it was just DeSean to start the year, then Cooper came on, but they never found a third guy. Avant is deservingly respected for more than reason, but he is just too slow to be anything more than a fourth receiver. Maclin, Cooper, and Jackson together should be dynamic.

  8. 8 Mike Flick said at 8:51 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    They did kind of ‘figure it out’.

    For example: They know the QB is reading the DE. If the DE crashes down, then the QB keeps the ball and runs outside. So defenses had their DE crash down every play but cover the outside with a LB instead of filling a gap.

    Kelly came up with counters by bringing Avant over or Casey or Celeck. But that consumed another blocker which it didn’t earlier.

    Dallas was able to beat our WRs with man coverage and use stunts to confuse our line.

    Now we will have to counter those counters, but our offense against Dallas the 2nd game was not phenomenal or anything.

    Other teams may find adjustments that give Kelly fits for a while. He assume that Kelly can keep coming up with adjustments to the adjustments. But there may be a slowdown as a whole.

  9. 9 Chinaman said at 9:03 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    Dallas might have “figured it out” but the Bears sure didn’t.
    Chip keeps saying that it’s all about the players executing.
    If we ever get a receiver who can (consistently) beat man coverage, we might find out that he’s right.

  10. 10 Anders said at 2:29 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    We wasn’t reading the De on every play, we had plays against the mlb, olb, safety and nt

  11. 11 Mike Flick said at 7:16 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    I was just using the inside zone read as an example.

  12. 12 Anders said at 12:51 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    yea, but if the defense do not know who we are reading, they will get badly burned on a play you just described.

  13. 13 Chinaman said at 8:53 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    Sal Pal already started on this in an interview last week. The problem with the “read option” at the NFL level is that it doesn’t offer enough options to fool defenses. I won’t bother listing all the reasons why Sal’s comments are off base. However, it is encouraging to hear that he sees problems with Kelly’s offense. If Sal doesn’t see it working long term, then it’s certainly destined to be hugely successful for years to come.

  14. 14 Baloophi said at 2:47 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Anal piano stool

  15. 15 ACViking said at 11:10 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Is there another kind?

  16. 16 Michael Deen said at 11:34 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    My lord Sal Pal is freaking annoying. I can’t stand how every time he comes on 97.5 no one every challenges him on anything. Everyone just kisses his ass and slurps up his idiotic statements.

  17. 17 GvilleEagleFan said at 9:54 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    I agree with you Tommy that Cooper, Mac, and Diaz can and probably would thrive together, but what about a group of Djax, Mac, and Benjamin? Or Djax, Cooper, and Lee? My point is that I think that there’s enough depth at WR in this class for us to upgrade on either guy. Do you have any thoughts on who would be a greater addition?

  18. 18 Media Mike said at 8:12 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Allen Robinson >>>>> Benjamin.

  19. 19 fran35 said at 12:13 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    My thinking is this:
    Any upgrade at WR in the draft over Coop will be minimal and observed in future years as this scheme and its demands on WR are high. Rookie WR traditionally do not excel in any offense until year 2 or 3. I think if we get Cooper for a reasonable price, we have to pull the trigger. That allows us the freedom to keep a big WR who actually plays big. He has great chemistry with our young QB. Also, it allows us to save our high draft picks for defense and Offensive line.

  20. 20 Jerry Pomroy said at 12:05 AM on February 10th, 2014:

    I have to agree with the chemistry part. It wasn’t until Foles that Cooper showed anything. I was very much for upgrading our “big receiver” role prior to seeing Foles hook up with Cooper. Riley was in my dog house for a couple of years prior. They just gelled & I’d hate to see that momentum for Foles development take a step backwards. That being said, I’d rather let Maclin walk & keep Coop, if I had to choose between the two.

  21. 21 SteveH said at 9:55 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    The most startling part about Denver’s OL and the pressure they gave up in the SB was that Seattle only rushed more than four 6 times. So not only was Manning under siege, but Seattle had plenty of defenders back in coverage to boot.

    Patchwork OL’s are a dangerous thing even with the best of quarterbacks. I think Aaron Rodgers suffers from this somewhat as well, his OL is perennially awful but he covers up that problem by escaping the pocket a lot.

    Investment in OL is not sexy, but its so important.

  22. 22 Insomniac said at 2:39 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    One thing Andy did get right.

  23. 23 Anders said at 4:17 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    you aint a successfull HC for 15 years if you aint right majority of the time.

  24. 24 Media Mike said at 5:30 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    This! ^

  25. 25 Baloophi said at 3:00 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    This is why we always hear “the game is won or lost up front.” Of course we also hear “defense wins championships” and “speed kills” but the “front line” argument makes sense to me.

    Might help justify an upgrade at nose tackle as well as depth/future replacements at OG and OT during the draft.

    Along those lines (see what I did there???), I’m curious what people would do if an elite OT fell to us at 22. Certainly seems like we have other more immediate needs, but after Kelce and Johnson, everyone else is either 32+ or an unknown.

  26. 26 Jamie Parker said at 3:03 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    I made that point before the season ended. Not out of the question to pick OL with that first pick. The good thing is that two of our older O-linemen are guards and good guards can be found later in the draft.

  27. 27 Media Mike said at 5:30 PM on February 7th, 2014:


  28. 28 Anders said at 4:16 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    I would have no problems with picking a potential elite LT if he fell (Like Lewan, tho his character does not fit Kelly’s high character profile).

  29. 29 Insomniac said at 5:53 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    I actually wouldn’t mind seeing us take Zach Martin with our first pick. He’s not the ideal OT but he’ll be an awesome OG that could play some RT.

  30. 30 Anders said at 8:09 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    I rather wait of Zach Martin is the only guy left

  31. 31 bill said at 9:46 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Also, don’t forget that the Eagles have had a propensity to get FA (or traded) linemen over the years. Maybe that changes with the new regime, but with the success they’ve had going that route, I bet the trend continues. I have no idea who that player might be, but I’m willing to say it’s highly likely that they sign some OL talent this offseason. Probably mid-level guys, as they’ll likely come in as presumed back-ups, but guys that the staff thinks they can coach up to starter level fairly quickly. If they go OL in the draft, I’m guessing it’s either an elite guy who falls unexpectedly, or late round developmental guys. I don’t think they want a rookie playing a big role on the line this year, given that Johnson is still pretty raw himself.

  32. 32 Insomniac said at 6:18 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    I’ll throw a few names around for OL replacement but I haven’t watched enough tape to give any details about any of the players I listed. Lets just say they garner interest because of potential.

    Morgan Moses OT
    JaWuan James OT
    Billy Turner OT
    Cornelius Lucas OT

    Xavier Sua’Filo OG
    Gabe Jackson OG
    Brandon Thomas OG
    Jon Halapio OG

  33. 33 Anders said at 8:10 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    There is also a few potential FAs like Geoff Schwartz

  34. 34 anon said at 8:54 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    tackle or guard

  35. 35 theycallmerob said at 9:34 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    With the # of coaches that came to the staff last year from college, including Stoutland, I’m sure these guys know of some players who would do just fine in this scheme/team that are not necessarily Day 1 (or even Day 2) picks. Too many other needs to look at OL that early, but I could definitely see DL. And this is coming from a guy who could not value OL more.

    I’ve been high on Morgan Moses, the dancing bear, since October. Some folks are giving him a 1st rd grade, but he’s still likely to be the 4th or 5th OT taken.

    Some other late(r) round names I’ve been keeping an eye on, and guys I think would do well here:

    *morgan moses, T, uva
    *michael schofield, T, michigan
    *james hurst, T, north carolina
    *kevin graf, T, usc
    *anthony steen, G, alabama (stoutland boy!)
    *billy turner, T/G, north dakota state
    *joel bitonio, T/G, nevada
    *brandon linder, G, miami
    *dakota dozier, G, furman
    *bryan stork, C, florida st
    *tyler larsen, C, utah st
    *gabe ikard, C, oklahoma

  36. 36 shah8 said at 10:51 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    Well, yes, this is what bugs me so much about Nick Foles. I think the system will work well, and I certainly like watching it. However, Foles sticks out to me like a sore thumb, because it seems obvious to me how he limits the offense:
    (gone over this before, but)

    1) My biggest problem is that he’s not a great passer. He does do many passes perfectly fine and is an okay decision maker. However, the offensive scores tend to come when they come (Chicago game being the exception), and not always when we needed the points. My impression is that the nature of the passes he tends to want to pull the triggers on limits how effective the offense is at moving the ball through the air. I haven’t been critiquing the jump ball thing just because I don’t like how that looks or I hate Foles. Jump balls are fine, in moderation. What hasn’t happened are very many passes that demands accurate ball placement put between windows short or ahead of the receiver long. This has tended to mean that we suffer crucial three-and-outs. Michael Vick was far better at refreshing downs and consistently getting scoring drives–when you look at the Super Bowl game, Russel Wilson played his role to the hilt, getting first down after first down, with the bulk of those throws being of the kind Foles never tries. It might have been slightly frustrating with two straight field goals, but the TDs eventually came. And it’s like, Foles can’t NOT chose to do those kind of passes, and Kelly can’t NOT ask Foles to make those window throws. They’re basic stuff. Yeah, bigger risk of getting picked off, but such throws aren’t dependent on a defense not giving good coverage for some reason. It’s a matter of judging risk/return, and avoiding asphyxiating conservatism.

    2) The explosiveness of the run in this offense is fundamentally dependent on the defense giving a shit about the QB as a rusher. Because we can’t get defenses to care about the QB rush, we’ve been forced to use an extra blocker, and run far more like how Minn runs with AD. That has its own explosiveness as you’ve seen in 2012, but this isn’t quite the point of what Kelly actually wants to do–which is to consistent put the ball where your guys outnumber their guys, whether that’s a probability (DE has to care whether the QB has it), or whether that’s in fact, with wham blocks and double teams leading the way. Kelly doesn’t want to give the defense a chance to out execute us, and he very much needs the defense to be guessing as long as possible–though package plays, through PA, through RO. Remember, much of the time, Kelly is spending a lot of the resources on the field in deception, and he’s sacrificing a lot of flexibility for that deception. Foles consistently not viewed as a rushing threat, because nobody cares if he gets a twenty yard scamper and the DC is always wanting to stop McCoy. It doesn’t help matters when Foles has been so easily brought down if someone on the defense thinks he’ll keep and decides to honor the QB keeper. It really doesn’t help matter that Foles has a poor ability to scramble when a passing play is busted–just way to easy to bring down (think Jared Allen’s takedown) if he doesn’t have angles on defenders closing in.

    Traditionally, when you see an offense that has been getting ahead early and staying ahead all year, like Minn 2012, with the help of a lot of big plays, this doesn’t carry over into the next year. Heck, it didn’t really carry over even into the playoffs. When you’re down by 13 as late as we were in the playoffs, you’re doing awesome just to take the lead for a sec, never mind winning. That’s because you’re dependent on the D stopping the opposing offense multiple time. In the playoffs, that is just not likely, if you’re not facing the likes of Alex Smith. Thus we pretty much lost because of the earlier short possessions, and not precisely from the defense giving in to Brees late. The profound dependence on unorthodox passes for a large proportion of big plays makes me believe that we will not see the same success next year, pretty much the same way as with fumble luck or easy schedule luck. In order to stay ahead of the game, Foles will have to be able to make tougher passes and place the balls better, particularly in the parts of the field so obviously out of his comfort zone. This is especially true in order to refresh downs and make *every* drive possible a success, like what happened in Chicago. Foles will probably never get a huge amount of respect running, but it will help alot if he gets better at passing, and it will also help alot if he can reliably convert short yardage on the ground(non goal situation) when a passing play fails.

    We don’t need to be concerned with RBs, nor the line that much. We won’t know the deal with the WRs until the summer. Obviously we need one more dude that can beat man. Don’t care if it’s Ted Gin Jr. opposite DJax or Boldin abusing nickle backs. Specifically with TEs, though, Ertz needs to be better at blocking. Would be nice if he worked on being a bit faster and more elusive, like Foles.

  37. 37 Sean said at 12:09 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    Are you still on this three-and-out thing with Foles? Do you not remember when you misread the chart, which actually revealed that Foles was one of the best at avoiding them this year? By contrast, Vick on third down:
    41.7%, 144 yds, 4.6 ypa, 0 td, 1 int, 44.4 rating

  38. 38 fran35 said at 1:05 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    First off, by any metric, you lose credibility when you say Foles is an OK decision maker. The stats show that he is *elite* in that category.
    As for only taking points when they come-not sure what your balthering about. However, it appears you are insinuating that Foles cannot score when the team really needs the points. I point to the playoff game against the Saints. He led a late 4th quarter drive, put us ahead. If the defense kept the Saints from marching the length of the field with less than 2 minutes–Foles is clutch. If you need other examples, there are plenty. Your points not only lack merit, they are ridiculous and unfounded.

  39. 39 shah8 said at 11:00 PM on February 6th, 2014:

    WRT to the Manning point–The main way to beat the Sea defense, and this has been true for three years now, is to have a burner, and throw it to him deep, behind those big, slow DBs. Earl Thomas can’t save the day every time, but Manning didn’t make a good attempt when Earl Thomas has been out of position.

  40. 40 Anders said at 4:18 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Manning does not have the arm anymore and none of the Broncos WRs are burners.

  41. 41 Insomniac said at 5:42 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Demaryius Thomas has great long speed though.

  42. 42 Anders said at 8:09 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    yea, but he cant outrun a guy like Jackson can.

  43. 43 holeplug said at 9:32 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Seattle’s DBs are not slow

  44. 44 Ark87 said at 3:24 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    Not big on the mobile QB thing, but Kaep definitely gave them fits with his legs. Seattle will play anyone straight up, not a lot of smoke and mirrors with them. Comes down to winning match-ups. Kaep won his vs his spy. Chip isn’t big on smoke and mirrors either. Going to be interesting to see the match-ups he tries to make and exploit.

  45. 45 Media Mike said at 5:35 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    Seattle, totally uncharacteristically for them, had several missed tackles of Kaep that they never miss. That skewed the results somewhat. Also, Kaep’s kick save fumble could have easily been lost and Earl Thomas was a knuckle away from picking off Kaep’s only TD throw. That might be the closest Kaep comes to winning in Seattle for a long long time, and it was luck that had him that close. Denver was 100% undone by weak O-line play.

  46. 46 bubqr said at 6:37 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    The issue is: It is very probable (from a pure statistic perspective) that Foles will throw more INTs, and McCoy won’t rush for as many yards. Just regression to the mean. We’ll also have a very tough schedule. We’ll have more injuries (sports science only takes you so far IMO, there’s some luck involved).

    Expecting “The same but better” is what leads Atlanta and Houston to top 5 picks in the draft. “Schaub has an extra WR, this offense can only get better, this team will be scary”. “With one more year in the system and S.Jackson, the Falcons will have a top3 offense and go to the SB”.

    We need in fact to hope that the defense will improve, backup RBs, WRs and TEs will produce more if we want to at least REPLICATE this season. I’m not even talking about getting better.

    The good thing is I have faith in this organisation to think that way. But it really won’t be easy, especially once again with that schedule.

  47. 47 Anders said at 6:47 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Take Atlanta, they had no OL, their RB got old and their top 2 WRs was often out.
    We have an OL so a disaster ala 2012 has to happen, McCoy is still young and we did overcome a 2 big injuries to 2 propsed starting WRs (Maclin and Benn)

  48. 48 bubqr said at 8:25 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    My whole point is: It’s easy to look what went wrong, and even easier to base the future on assuming that “out of the ordinary” performances will repeat., but hard to focus on what could go wrong. Our OL could quickly get old, Shady could get hurt, Ertz might not develop – You can’t just assume “We’ll get a better slot receiver, Ertz will improve, Lane Johnson too, we can only get better”.

    For example, very few talks of our OL age. 3 of our starters could get old quickly, our whole offense suffers, and with our schedule, boom, 8-8, out of the playoffs.

    I’m not trying to be pessimistic, but just compensate for the “a full season of Foles + Maclin back + a new great slot received = greatness”.

  49. 49 Michael Winter Cho said at 10:15 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Yep, we could play just as well and end up with 8 wins. But if make some wise choices on D, Maclin returns and succeeds, Foles improves, and overall health is good, it’s not impossible to hit 10 again and get another shot at it all.

  50. 50 Mitchell said at 8:43 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    I wonder what the mean will be for this offense. There is regression or the team could be even better. It could go both ways and will be fun to find out next season.

  51. 51 Sean said at 11:57 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    There’s no way to evaluate the strength of a schedule in February. Last year, if a team had Atlanta and Houston on its schedule, it would’ve seemed like a really tough slate, but those ended up almost being two free wins.

  52. 52 Sean said at 11:58 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Plus, overall record of their opponents is sub-.500

  53. 53 The Linc – Should Michael Vick Stay With the Eagles? | Sports Feedr said at 7:06 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    […] Can the Offense Stay Elite? – Tommy Lawlor, Iggles BlitzI don’t think anyone would dispute the success of the Eagles offense in 2013. Chip Kelly brought in his up-tempo attack from Oregon and delivered great results. The Eagles set a franchise record for points in a season. LeSean McCoy led the NFL in rushing. Nick Foles had one of the highest QB ratings in NFL history. And on and on and on. It hasn’t started yet, but something tells me that we’ll see more than a few “the NFL will figure out Kelly’s offense” articles this offseason. There were skeptics last year. They were proven wrong, but the group can now twist their initial doubts and focus on the idea that NFL coaches will be able to shut down the Eagles since they’ve seen the offense. That notion is wrong. […]

  54. 54 Media Mike said at 8:11 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Our O has a lot of improvements it can make to stay ahead of the rest of the league as it tries to catch up to what we’re doing. I think the biggest thing we can start doing is have Foles be more willing to throw the ball to Jackson in positions where he can throw him open (i.e. the wildcard game when all of the clips of Jackson vs. Keenan Lewis showed Jackson not being covered that closely) in ways that allow him to make plays on the ball. An increase in passes to Ertz should also shake a few more things loose. A full off-season of improvement out of Lane Johnson should also allow the Eagles to mix up the playcalling in terms of direction of called plays (Peters / Mathis side vs. Johnson / Herremans side) in a way that keeps defenses on their heels.

  55. 55 anon said at 8:52 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    might have more than 3 picks

  56. 56 Andy124 said at 11:18 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    Nah. He had 5 picks in 2012. 2 in 2013. I fully expect him to have -1 picks in 2014.

  57. 57 nicolajNN said at 1:49 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    Are you suggesting we plug Foles in at safety?

  58. 58 Andy124 said at 2:27 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    Well, he’s got really good size for the position…

  59. 59 Media Mike said at 5:37 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    I can see that, but it isn’t a problem due to the increased TD throws it will bring. Foles / DeSean having an entire off-season to work together as a #1 QB / #1 WR combo is going to be really beneficial.

  60. 60 eagleyankfan said at 11:06 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    I’m not big on setting franchise records. That’s a worthless stat and it has no impact on next season. What is nice is that Foles will get 1st team reps all pre-season. Not that seemed to bother him, he’s not fighting for a starting job. He can relax and concentrate on perfecting his skills.
    I 100% expect this offense to be better and more efficient on the basis that they have a year getting comfortable in what Chip wants/expects from all players. There should also be very few player changeover too. This offense will even be more special next season….

  61. 61 Media Mike said at 5:39 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    And key players, such as Ertz and Lane, will be in year two, able to improve rather than learn something new, and not subjected to ridiculous NFL/NCAA agreements about poor college academic calendars impeding on NFL mini-camps. College needs to be done the first week of May!

  62. 62 bill said at 11:36 AM on February 7th, 2014:

    I think that the more I watched Seattle’s D play, the more I appreciated their DL. They didn’t “beat” their man that much, but they did “sled” their blocker back into the pocket a lot, making it a very difficult thing to maintain focus and step into throws.
    The secondary was/is great, and does its job perfectly, but without that DL really keeping bodies in the way of the QB, I think they’re exploitable deep and on crossing patterns.
    It’s similar to the problems I saw in Eagles v. Min and Dal (2nd) – the DL wasn’t getting “pressures” or beating their man, but they were absolutely sledding the blockers back into the backfield, preventing Foles from stepping into throws and generally taking away the slow developing pass plays by threatening the lanes and his throwing motion. You don’t need sacks and traditional pressures, so long as you’re in the QB’s face and threatening his throwing lanes/armslots. This might be the new counter to the zone blocking scheme that is becoming more and popular – shove those lighter and athletic linemen backwards towards the ball on every play.

  63. 63 Media Mike said at 5:41 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    I’m already sick with worry about our C / RG combo getting thrown in Foles’ lap all game vs. Seattle next year. Herremans especially.

  64. 64 bsuperfi said at 7:15 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    Probably. Though we may be able to keep them off balance with a serious run game in just the right places . If we can execute that, it becomes a game of counters, which is exactly what we want. It’s all about executing in a core class of plays.

  65. 65 Ark87 said at 12:11 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    One thing stuck out to me about this offense this year vs previous years. In previous years our offense was extremely volatile. It felt like if we didn’t get a long TD or a few, the offense was likely to stall out in the redzone, or blow up horribly with a redzone turn over.

    This year it felt like it was always good, but it still has room built in to get so much better. It never felt fluky in the least, it hummed, and yet you still saw plenty of missed opportunities. I’m pretty excited, it should hold up fine next season, even if defensive schemes catch up a bit, we should be improved enough to handle it.

  66. 66 Tumtum said at 12:12 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    Im looking for improvement in the RZ.

  67. 67 Ark87 said at 12:24 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    We should always strive for 100% But the birds haven’t been bad under Foles in the RZ. Season long we were middling. But with just foles, it’s quite good.

  68. 68 anon said at 12:32 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    Agree but i think offense is still built on big plays. Keep running until we kill them over the top.

  69. 69 Ark87 said at 3:14 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    definitely true. I guess it’s just my personal feeling that it didn’t make me nervous to be on a long drive. We were better in the red zone this year, more specifically, we didn’t turn it over in the red zone (we may have had a turnover on downs or 2 in the red zone but that’s not the scary kind).

    It’s pure perception, but last year long drives had me waiting for us to make a back breaking mistake. This year it had me waiting for the other team to make the mistake. Any moment we are going to break a big play. Only a matter of time before someone gets exposed 1 on 1. Like i said, that’s pure perception. But it sure makes Sundays more enjoyable.

  70. 70 anon said at 2:21 AM on February 8th, 2014:

    All true. 2012 was the most frustrating season of football i’ve ever watched.

  71. 71 Mike said at 2:25 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    When the Eagles have draft prospect visits/ workouts can the prospects wear the motion trackers that were used during training camp? Can FAs wear those during team workouts? Id imagine the data would be very helpful for scouting quickness an acceleration.

  72. 72 mksp said at 4:12 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    The more film I watch the more interested I am in (1) trading back to pick up an extra 3rd and (2) taking Odell Beckham Jr. (ODB!) with our late first round pick.

    Love the way he catches the ball & the violence of his cuts.

  73. 73 the midatlantic said at 4:49 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    22 IS a late first round pick

  74. 74 mksp said at 4:54 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    i mean, sure. not as late as 29/30/31/32 tho.

  75. 75 A_T_G said at 5:21 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    Some people prefer a more polished player, but with ODB you have to like it raw.

  76. 76 theycallmerob said at 1:48 PM on February 8th, 2014:

    ^ this sole statement had me hop the ODB train at the last station. I’m onboard. Give that man the rock on key plays, and just watch him spit hot fire.

  77. 77 Mitchell said at 8:43 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    I just watched film on Odell the other day and came away super impressed. He is just so fluid catching the ball and then on his jukes, cuts, and stiff arms. I wouldn’t be necessarily upset if we took him in the first. Plus his name is Odell!

  78. 78 ColtSafety said at 5:46 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    Hello from a British Eagles fan…

    I think that the really interesting question Tommy asks is how the Offence would function with back-ups. But I’m curious on your thoughts with not even going that far. How well would the O function without either Shady or DeSean Jackson? You could argue that they are both “special”/top-10 at their position, players that a D has to account for.

    Wouldn’t the strategy of “send DeSean left, send Shady right” and force the D to spread, go out of the window or at least be way less effective? How replaceable is that special talent? Could Ertz be that kind of special player or is that not possible from TE position? Is there anyone we might target in the draft that fits that “D-must account for them” category?

    Sorry, too many questions…

    Finally, and importantly – Good job Tommy! Been reading it since you appeared on IgglesBlog! Your column is cracking for those of us not in Philly. May chocolate pudding continue to strengthen your writing arm!


  79. 79 Insomniac said at 5:53 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    I usually never post simulated mock drafts but I was pretty content with this one.

    22. Dee Ford OLB
    54. Bradley Roby CB (not a huge fan but upside is great)
    86. Christian Jones ILB
    118. Jimmie Ward S
    150. Adrian Hubbard OLB
    157. Cornelius Lucas OT
    214. Dri Archer RB

    Thoughts/opinions on this?

  80. 80 Media Mike said at 8:27 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    I think it was solid, but I’m not sure Dee Ford is the correct side to be a 3 down ROLB. And keep posting the mock drafts; they’re fun and more likely to be what we add to our team as opposed to free agents.

  81. 81 mksp said at 2:58 AM on February 8th, 2014:

    No way Jimmie Ward lasts til 118. Chatter is he is 3rd best safety, top-50 player. Best case is you pick him up in the 3rd, no way he falls all the way to 118.

    I also don’t like Roby, think there will be better options on the board at 54.

  82. 82 Insomniac said at 4:46 AM on February 8th, 2014:

    I don’t know where you’re hearing this chatter but really? Ward is good but he’s not in the top 3 safeties coming out this year. I’d say you could make an argument for top 5. The safety from Stanford is what is getting 2nd round consideration not Ward.

    I don’t like Roby either but he can be groomed to be a true #1 CB. I’d take the gamble on that.

  83. 83 theycallmerob said at 1:46 PM on February 8th, 2014:

    I’d replace Hubbard with a WR, if there’s still a decent player left (Abbrederis, Huff, Moncrief, Hoffman). Or possibly a DT option like Reid, Ellis, or Carethers. But overall, nice

  84. 84 Insomniac said at 4:38 PM on February 8th, 2014:

    This was from fanspeak’s simulator. Ellis is usually gone by round 4. Carrethers is rated as a 6th round guy. Hubbard would be a boom or bust guy for us. As for WRs, I didn’t like any of them enough in the later rounds. Jeff Janis or a bunch of dime a dozen WRs over potential starters? Nope.

  85. 85 Mitchell said at 8:44 PM on February 7th, 2014:

    I’ll jump on the Marcus Smith bandwagon. The more OLB/DE I watch the more I think we can find an impact player in the draft. Smith, Attaochu, Jeffcoat, possibly Barr. They are there we just have to be in the right position to take them.