Eagles Receivers Exemplify the Chip Kelly Culture

When wide receiver DeSean Jackson was released from the Eagles last March, questions were abound as to the reasons why. Was it because of his contract? Was it due to off-field antics? Was it due to his work ethic and attitude? The truth is, it probably wasn’t just one thing, but if I had to put my finger on the biggest issue, it would be Jackson’s attitude on the field. Chip Kelly has a certain vision about the way football is supposed to be played, and Jackson’s playing style didn’t really mesh with that vision. Namely, I’m talking about two philosophies that Kelly implements with his team:
1) It takes 11 players to run the football, and
2) There are no football positions, just football players

What that second part (which was one subject of Mark Saltveit’s must read book The Tao of Chip Kelly) means is that if you are a wide receiver, your job isn’t to just catch passes. Your job is to catch passes on a pass play, and block on a run play. It’s that second part that Jackson has always had an issue with. It’s no secret that Jackson has never been committed to blocking. This week, former Washington Redskins tight end turned radio host and analyst Chris Cooley was critical of Jackson’s blocking efforts. Here’s what he had to say:
“Do not allow number 11 to ever be involved in blocking for screens, blocking for bubbles, picking for players in the pass game, [or] run plays to his side of the line of scrimmage,” Cooley said. “He WILL NOT TRY on them. Do not put him in in those situations…Find another way to break that tendency, but don’t risk losing a play just because you think 11 might try…Unless he’s going to say ‘I’ll make a legitimate commitment,’ do not put him in on those plays. It was costly in four or five different situations where plays could have been better.”

One of those plays Cooley pointed to was a bubble screen late in the Redskins game against the Arizona Cardinals. On a third down with one yard to go, Kirk Cousins threw a bubble screen to Andre Roberts. Jackson, blocking for the screen, allows his man to get by him and tackle Roberts in the backfield, and the Redskins had to punt. Here is the play:
01 jackson screen

Hearing this talk is nothing really new to Eagles fans who’ve seen Jackson’s lack of effort in the run game for years. That’s why it was so refreshing to watch happened during Sunday Night Football between the Eagles and the Giants. LeSean McCoy gained nearly 150 yards on 22 carries, mostly on runs outside the tackle which put the receivers in a position to be lead blockers for McCoy downfield. This is a role that Jackson is not committed too, and that doesn’t fly if you are going to play for Chip Kelly.

Jeremy Maclin, who the Eagles re-signed this off-season, has completely bought into Kelly’s philosophies and has done a great job of hustling on run plays and making key blocks downfield to help spring the running backs for additional yards.

Here is a play from last year against the Green Bay Packers. It was second down with nine yards to go as the Eagles were trying to run out the clock. Foles is going to keep the ball on a zone read. Jackson starts off the play by setting up for a screen, but then as the play turns into a run, he gives up. Foles ends up picking up the nine yards, but what should have been an easy gain for Foles turned into a difficult one because Jackson let his man free to go make a play.
03 jackson no focus vs packers

Here is another play from the game against the Cowboys last year. Jackson isn’t even able to get a hand on the cornerback because of his lack of focus on this play, and the corner easily gets right by him.
05 jackson cowboys

Compare those plays to the following play from Sunday night. Maclin also begins the play setting up for a quick screen, but look what happens afterwards. Maclin doesn’t just sit back and jog around after his initial move, he quickly gets into position, focuses on what he has to do next, and makes a key block on the cornerback to allow McCoy to turn the corner and pick up a first down. 02 maclin block giants

Here he is doing the same thing again on another run.
03 maclin block giants

Maclin also made a key block against the Colts that helped spring Darren Sproles for a touchdown as well. Maclin begins the play by running a curl route option. After he sees the ball get handed to Sproles, he turns downfield to block the corner, and he’s able to seal off his man from getting a hand on Sproles.
01 maclin block for sproles td

Here’s another angle from that play so you can get a better look at how Maclin takes his man to the ground, preventing him from getting in on the play.
08 sproles td run

Another issue with Jackson’s blocking is that even when he does get involved, he’s not committed to finishing his block. Too many times he would (and still does) allow his man to get by him after giving him an initial shove. That’s not how you’re supposed to block. LeSean McCoy had a chance to turn the corner on this play from the Giants game last year, but since Jackson doesn’t try to lock his man up, he easily gets by him after the initial contact and tackles McCoy.
06 jackson giants 2

Compare that to the following efforts from Maclin. Look at how long Maclin holds his block for on this play. If not for that effort, this would have been a five yard gain at most. But thanks to Maclin securing his block, McCoy was able to get downfield after turning the corner and picked up the first down.
04 maclin block giants

Here’s another one. Look at how Maclin drives his man to the sideline to give McCoy a clear path to turn downfield. Also notice Jordan Matthews’ awareness in the slot. He sees that the offensive linemen will be able to take care of the two defenders in front of him, so he sprints downfield to block the safety to help spring McCoy for additional yards.
05 maclin and matthews

Josh Huff and Riley Cooper were also a huge part of the run game success on Sunday night. On this play, their efforts helped Darren Sproles turn the corner and sprint downfield for a fifteen yard touchdown.
08a sproles td run huff and cooper block

On this play, Huff again does a great job of sealing off his man, allowing McCoy to run downfield untouched until he gets to the safety.
02 mccoy 18 yard run misdirection

The current core group of Eagles receivers get it. Maclin, Cooper, Matthews, and Huff all realize the importance of blocking and know that they aren’t getting paid to just catch passes. They are paid to be football players. They all have a selfless attitude and will do whatever it takes to help the team win games, and that’s why they are here.


17 thoughts on “Eagles Receivers Exemplify the Chip Kelly Culture

  1. This artclie makes a whole lot of sense! Veteran great Deon Sanders, who occassionally played Wider Receiver, called out the true costume Wide Receivers put on out on the field by saying : “Everybody knows wide receivers are divas” (TJMS Morning Talk Show). He said this as part of his response to DeJac being released from the Eagles. So, when you have Divas, they expect to be recognized and outshine others. The videos in this article continues to prove that he has limited talent playing the role of Wide Receiver (explosion speed only). 2012 season, the Eagles record was 4/12 and that was with DeJac. He is now with another team and they are currently 2/3 and we’re 5/1. I agree with Chip Kelly that a team is not built around one person. You have a more effective team when they all believe in the same thing. I believe in the scheme and that it is working. There’s lots of training to perfect the scheme and it doesn’t happen over night. E.A.G.L.E.S, EAGLES!

  2. Hey guys – check out gfycat.com, it’ll really make using these super large gifs in your posts much better one everyone. I’ve got a pretty stellar internet connection and even still it takes these pages forever to load.

  3. Total bull*****
    (edited by lmitros)

    “Since I’ve been here he’s been an extremely hard worker. He’s been out there almost every single day practicing, barring one or two, and has put in his time, whether it’s in the weight room, whether it’s in the classroom or whether it’s on the practice field. So he’s been fantastic since we’ve been here. What’s happening on the field in terms of on Sunday is a byproduct of what he’s doing since I’ve been here off the field and I think he’s doing a great job.” – Chip kelly

    • That’s fine that you disagree with the premise of my article, but please refrain from cursing in the comments section. Yes, Kelly did say those things. Kelly isn’t someone who is going to bash a player in public (like Jackson’s current coach who said, “he’s a terrible blocker”). Fact is, Kelly cut Jackson at the end of the year. Kelly didn’t want Jackson on the team moving forward.

      • And you think cutting a guy because he can’t block is a good reason? That is almost as terrible a reason as cutting him because he is too small.

        • If you are the head coach trying to instill a culture where players are selfless and sacrifice and do whatever it takes to win, then yes you can’t have one of your starters not do that as well. Jackson was limited elsewhere as well. Amazing playmaker, but one dimensional.

            • Sure he did work hard… at improving his own statistics. Actions speak louder than words, and he cut him. Chip didn’t lie about Jackson doing a great job, heck he had a career year in reception yards. However, the best interest of the TEAM was to put a different, more well rounded receiver on the field in 2014. You can’t turn over a team in one year, and they did do a great job with Jackson last year. This year they are getting better output from the receivers in the run game as this post showed. This is a tradeoff Chip felt was worth it. Seemed to be a good decision.

              • I’m sorry but all of that is ridiculous. The run game has been terrible all year. Teams stack the box against the eagles because they have no deep threat. Sure the line injuries didn’t help, but a large portion of the problem with the run game is because DeSean is gone. Even Peters said this. The best interest of the team was to keep their best WR on the team, not cut him because he could not block. Sometimes I think I am the only person not blinded by Chip kelly being the coach. I mean cutting a WR because he can’t block or is too small and everyone is OK with that? Open your eyes people.

                • Let’s set Jackson as a receiver on a bubble screen . When he catches the ball, nobody block for him. How effective will his speed be then? If a player wont block his value to the TEAM is limited.-TomO.

                  • His value to the team came when he got 1300+ yards and 9 TDs. Also if you remember correctly, Shady led the league in rushing last year, so his bad blocking couldn’t have hurt the TEAM that bad. This nonsense article is just trying to make excuses for Chip[‘s terrible decision. I love Chip but every single article like this that comes out actually makes him look worse. it’s just grasping at straws to defend a guy who cut the eagles best WR and made the team worse.

          • I agree completely. All highly functional organizations develop core values and core operating principles that support the vision of the organization. It provides the framework for the organization to function. Once you state those principals as “truths”, you have to make sure all individuals, even/especially the high performers, adhere to the rules in order to make the vision work. D-Jax may have practiced hard, he may have worked hard, but if he doesn’t buy completely into the vision, you have to move on from him. It really is that simply. Everyone rows the boat in the same direction, no exceptions.

        • Is blocking a part of the job description? Yes. So why wouldn’t you cut a guy that’s not doing his job? You’d get canned if you started showing up to your job and only doing half of your work, too.

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