One thing that Chip Kelly has done an excellent job of in the passing game, is anticipating how the defense is going to play us on a certain situation, and dialing up a play to exploit their set up. At times, this causes their defense to be in a situation where they have a lone defender having to cover two people at once.
An example of that from the Green Bay game was the deep post route that Nick Foles connect with Riley Cooper on for a touchdown. Here is a diagram of that play:
We run a playaction on this play that sucks the 2 linebackers in. Brent Celek blocks on the right side of the line to sell the fake. After the fake, Bryce Brown continues to run to the flat, where the safety has to pick him up. Zach Ertz runs across the field behind the line of scrimmage which draws the nickle back in to make sure he isn’t going out for a pass.
We only had 2 downfield routes on this play. DeSean Jackson runs an intermediate crossing route, and Cooper runs a deep post. Jackson beats his man to the inside and is open running across the field, and since the playaction caused the linebackers to take their first steps towards the line, there is plenty of room to drop a pass in over their heads to Jackson. Meanwhile, Cooper has inside position on his man as he runs downfield.
The deep safety now has a conundrum. If he drops back in coverage to provide over the top help for Cooper, he’ll leave Jackson wide open across the middle, and if he comes up to help cover Jackson, then the cornerback has no inside deep help for Cooper. The safety ends up taking his first few steps towards Jackson, which is all the movement Foles needs to be able to put the ball in space for Cooper to run under. As the safety tries to turn around and head back towards the endzone, it’s too late and he’s unable to get to the ball.
Now, the throw wasn’t perfect. A perfect throw would have gone a few yards into the endzone so that Cooper wouldn’t have to take such a hard angle at the last second and make a diving catch, but it was thrown in the perfect spot horizontally, which doesn’t allow the CB to catch up to it, and doesn’t allow the safety to recover and make a play on the ball.
Here is a picture from the All-22 film just as Foles is about to throw the ball downfield. As you’ll see, had the safety dropped back to provide over the top help for Cooper, Jackson would have been wide open for an easy throw that could have turned into a big gain.
This next play is the corner route touchdown pass to Riley Cooper. We again run playaction which draws the linebackers in. Brent Celek runs across the field behind the line to then block the edge rusher on the right side of the field.
The outside corners are in man coverage. Jeff Maehl is going to run a deep post route, taking his man with him. Desean Jackson is going to run a circle route, taking his man with him while also occupying the safety on that side of the field.
The nickle corner over Cooper is playing a short zone, he’s going to release Cooper to the safety behind him, and then he’s going to start running towards LeSean McCoy in the flat. This is where the fun begins.
The safety is now 1 on 1 with Cooper and he has absolutely no inside help. Cooper is going to run a fake slant route, and then cut to the outside and run a corner route. He does an excellent job of selling the slant route, causing the safety to bite and take a few steps forward, and when Cooper makes his cut, the safety is completely off balance and out of position to recover, leaving Cooper wide open for an easy pitch and catch.
Here is the diagram of the play:
And here is the All-22 picture, showing the point at which Cooper is running his fake slant route and about to turn it into a corner route. With Jeff Maehl taking his man with him on the deep post route, there will be nothing but open space for Foles to throw too for Cooper’s corner route as the safety bites on the fake slant.
Plays like these are why the Eagles currently lead the entire NFL in plays of 20 yards, 30 yards, and 40 yards.