All-22: Run Game Woes Continue Against San Francisco

The Eagles’ run game troubles continued against San Francisco on Sunday as LeSean McCoy was held to just 17 yards on 10 carries. After reviewing the game film, the biggest problem that stood out to me was that on almost every running play, someone lost a one on one blocking battle which resulted in either the hole collapsing or, even worse, a defender getting into the backfield. In this week’s All-22 review, I’ll break down eight of McCoy’s 10 carries from Sunday and show what went wrong.

This first play was probably the one run from Sunday in which I thought the blockers actually did a good job, and McCoy might have made the wrong choice by bouncing this run to the outside as opposed to running north-south and hitting the hole hard.
01 mccoy bounce outside

This next play is an inside run. The Niners have six men in the box to match up with the Eagles’ six blockers. So the Eagles have the proper numbers on this play to make for a successful run. Left guard Matt Tobin is going to pull to the right to lead the way for McCoy, but the play breaks down as center David Molk and right guard Dennis Kelly fail to create a surge on their blocks. Tight end Brent Celek also fails to get good leverage and positioning on this block as his man gets inside to make the tackle.
02 mccoy inside no room

This next play is an outside zone run to the right. The Niners have seven men in the box, but Foles can freeze the unblocked defender on the left, so once again the Eagles will have six blockers matched up against six defenders. Molk and Kelly are going to start off with a combo block on defensive end Ray McDonald, and then Kelly is supposed to get off the block and get to the second level to block linebacker Michael Wilhoite. However, Kelly trips and falls on his way there leaving Wilhoite unblocked. This forces McCoy to have to bounce this run to the outside for no gain.

04 mccoy run kelly fall down

On this play, once again the Eagles and Niners have even numbers in the box. The offensive line does their job and opens up a nice hole for McCoy, but safety Antoine Bethea comes down to fill the hole and McCoy is unable to shake him. Credit has to be given to Bethea as well as he does an excellent job of wrapping up McCoy and bringing him down. Thanks to Bethea’s play, what could have been an extra yardage play for the Birds turned into a five yard gain. It should be noted that Bethea had a great game on Sunday and was around the ball at all times. McCoy had a few one on one opportunities with him but was unable to make him miss, which is uncommon to see.
05 mccoy hole bethea nice tackle

On the following play, it looks like there was some miscommunication between Jason Peters and Matt Tobin as they allow Justin Smith to get into the backfield untouched. This forces McCoy to have to abandon the play and try to cut back across the field to get back to the line of scrimmage. 06 mccoy run justin smith untouched

This next off-tackle run was set up nicely and looked like it had a chance to go for big yardage. Justin Smith crashes inside and takes himself out of the play which plays perfectly into the Eagles’ hands. Dennis Kelly is able to get to the second level to block linebacker Patrick Willis, and it looks like the Eagles are going to be able to spring McCoy to the second level untouched. However, Zach Ertz is unable to hold his block against linebacker Dan Skuta, as Skuta throws Ertz down to the ground and makes the tackle on McCoy. Once again, this play goes for five yards but had a chance for so much more if Ertz had been able to win his one on one battle with Skuta.
07 mccoy run ertz missed block

The Niners stack the box on this run, and there are multiple problems with it from the start. As you can see before the play, Bethea is calling out the direction of the run, so right from the start the defense is ready for this play. Matt Tobin then allows defensive end Demarcus Dobbs to get by him and bring down McCoy in the backfield for a four yard loss. Even if Tobin would have made his block, this run still wouldn’t have been successful because there were other breakdowns in the play. Once again, Ertz can’t hold his block against Skuta as Skuta sends him to the ground. Also, Patrick Willis shoots the gap on this play, which prevents Kelly from being able to get to the second level to block him. So Willis and Skuta would have been waiting in the hole for McCoy regardless. An audible may have been a good idea on this one as the Niners knew what play was coming.
08 mccoy run tobin missed block

McCoy gains five yards on this run, but it should have had a chance for more. Once again the Eagles have six blockers to six defenders. Kelly is going to pull to his left and then lead the way for McCoy downfield. However, when he goes to block Willis, he doesn’t get great positioning on him. I think McCoy was expecting Kelly to hit Willis square on, but Kelly ends up being on the side of him which forces McCoy to have to make a jump cut to the outside. Had Kelly gotten in front of Willis, he would have been able to seal off the hole and McCoy would have had a one on one opportunity with Bethea for a chance at a big gain.
09 mccoy run kelly missed block

That does it for this week’s All-22 review. The Eagles will look to get their ground game going this Sunday as they host the 1-2 Saint Louis Rams. Lane Johnson is back from his four-game suspension which will bode well for the depleted offensive line and allow Todd Herramans to move back to right guard. I’d look for head coach Chip Kelly to use a good amount of unbalanced line formations with Johnson lined up next to Peters to try to get something going on the ground.

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Nick Foles is Tough, Chris Baker is Cheap, and Jason Peters is the Man

In 15 words or less, that’s the best way I can sum up the melee that occurred between the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter this past Sunday.

Here is what Baker had to say about his block on Foles (courtesy of Sheil Kapadia of Phillymag):
“The whistle had not been blown. He was going towards the ball, the ballcarrier was taking a right and he could have made the tackle. I did not even really hit him hard. I just happened to hit him on his shoulder, and he happened to fall. He’s the quarterback and I guess that’s why there was an ejection.”

Unfortunately for Mr. Baker, video doesn’t lie.
Foles dirty hit

Baker says that the ballcarrier was taking a right and that Foles could have made the tackle. As seen here, that’s not the case. It also would have been impossible for Foles to make a tackle on the play considering that the ballcarrier was already tackled before Baker laid his hit on Foles. This was nothing more than a defensive player taking a cheap shot on the opposing team’s quarterback to try to take him out of the game.

Fortunately for the Eagles, it didn’t work. Not only did Foles get up, but he threw the go-ahead touchdown pass two plays later. As Chip Kelly put it, Nick Foles is one “tough sucker”, and that’s been evident since his college days at the University of Arizona. As Kelly said back in January of 2013 when he was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles,
“We hit him as many times as we could hit him (at Oregon), and he just kept getting up and making plays. He completed a 15-yard pass left-handed against us once. I remember just standing on the sideline shaking my head, going, ‘I don’t know what we have to do to stop him.’

If you haven’t seen the play Kelly referenced on that January day, here it is.

Nick Foles is one tough son of a gun, and I’m glad he’s the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback.

Anatomy of a Play: Week 11 vs. the Washington Redskins

As this blog is brand new, this will be the first of what I plan on making a weekly segment titled “Anatomy of a Play”. In these segments, I’ll analyze a few key plays from the Eagles game using the All-22 coach’s film and show how and why the play developed the way it did, and try to show you things that may not have been made aware during the live broadcast of the game. In this week’s edition of Anatomy of a Play, I’ll analyze three offensive plays from the week 11 matchup against the Washington Redskins.  Here we go…

49 yard pass to LeSean McCoy on a Wheel Route

On this play, a simple wheel route turns into a 49 yard play due to the Eagles offense exploiting a mismatch in the Redskins defense. Here is a diagram of the play. McCoy wheel route_1st and 10

The route in red is McCoy’s. I have the other players’ routes in green and the Redskins assignments in yellow.  As you can see below, the Redskins are in man coverage, with one deep safety, but he is on the other side of the field from where McCoy runs his route. Furthermore, the Redskins have outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan matched up 1 on 1 with McCoy, that’s a huge mismatch for the Eagles to exploit. And as you can tell, there is going to be nothing but wide open space for McCoy to run his route.  Foles hits him perfectly in stride which allows him to run for an additional 32 yards after he catches this pass.

Here is the play in motion
McCoy wheel route on Make A Gif

43 yard screen pass to Brent Celek

This big play is the result of a great play design and perfect execution.

celek screen_1st and 10

The player circled in red is Brent Celek. The three offensive linemen with red lines are (from right to left) Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, and Jason Kelce.  These are the three linemen who are going to go out to block for the screen.  The play starts by having Bryce Brown go in motion (shown in blue) which draws London Fletcher with him, clearing out the middle of the field.  Peters, Mathis, and Kelce do an excellent job of selling their blocks and waiting until the last moment to go out and block for the screen, which prevents the Redskins’ defensive linemen from sniffing this play out.

Here is the play in motion.  Watch in the middle as I pause the clip and circle Todd Herramins who lays an excellent crack-back block on a defensive linemen who might have had a chance of tackling Celek from behind.
Celek Screen Pass on Make A Gif

19 yard pass to Desean Jackson on a Corner Route

This last play was not a huge play like the other two, but I wanted to highlight it because it really was a perfect pass by Nick Foles in difficult coverage, and it was on 3rd down with 11 yards to go.  Here is the diagram of the play.Djax deep out_3rd and 11

Jackson’s route is in red, with the other receiver’s routes in blue.  Washington is playing a zone defense on this play.  As you’ll see from the following clip, to complete this pass, Nick Foles has to throw this ball over the hands of the outside cornerback but put enough zip on it and throw it with such precise timing that it gets to Jackson before the safety can get there. If this ball had been late or underthrown, it is at risk at being intercepted. But Foles throws it with perfect timing and accuracy and completes it to Jackson for a 19 yard gain.  Here is the play in motion
D Jackson deep corner on Make A Gif
Well that’s it for this week’s edition of Anatomy of a Play.  Hope you enjoyed it and have a great bye week!

If Jason Peters can’t go on Sunday, Allen Barbre is More Than Ready to Step In

During the first quarter of the game against the Packers, All-Pro left tackle Jason Peters had to leave the game with an injury.  He tried to come back in to the game, and on his first play back, he injured his leg and was out for good.

Enter Allen Barbre.  An unheralded journeyman lineman on his third team in five years who has started only seven games in his entire career.  But none of that mattered on Sunday.  On Sunday against the Packers, he filled Peters’ shoes and then some.  Aside from an early holding penalty call on a Byrce Brown run, he played an excellent game.  He did not get beat once in pass protection, and he made some monster blocks and showed a mean streak in the run game, including multiple plays where he pancaked Clay Matthews, putting him on his back.  Here is a look at some of his key blocks this past Sunday:

His first play of the game was where Nick Foles hit Desean Jackson for a 55 yard touchdown (Foles got a lucky bounce on this play off of the defender but that’s neither here nor there).

Here is a look at the formation from behind the line. Barbre is circled in red

 photo 01_zpsa6b4b716.jpg

Barbre is going to start out this play by double teaming #96 Mike Neal.  But then watch as he locates the safety, #43 M.D. Jennings blitzing from the outside and quickly moves back to shove him downfield, allowing Nick Foles to step up in the pocket and deliver his throw.

XUjRwF on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

In this next play, Barbre puts a great block on outside linebacker Clay Matthews, allowing LeSean McCoy to get to the outside and turn the corner.  In this play the Eagles came out in an unbalanced line, and have Barbre lined up on the right side of the ball as a tight end outside of right tackle Lane Johnson.

 photo 01_zpsa457d171.jpg

And here is the play in motion:
tylUe8 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

On this running play, Barbre is going to start out with a double team on outside linebacker #53 Nick Perry.  He then quickly gets off the block and heads upfield to put a hat on cornerback #38 Tramon Williams, shoving him back a good 5 yards and opening up a hole for McCoy to run behind for a 7 yard gain.

 photo 01_zpsa19293a7.jpg

E_XvNk on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

These next two plays are just silly. In the first run, he throws outside linebacker Nick Perry to the ground on an outside run, allowing Byrce Brown to get to the sideline and turn the corner.  The Eagles are again in an unbalanced line with Barbre lined up as a tight end on the right side of the line.

 photo 01_zps23b29143.jpg

Look at how he finished his block on this play as he throws Perry to the ground.
zWB89Z on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

And on this play, watch how Barbre throws Clay Matthews to the ground like a rag doll as Nick Foles scrambles downfield.  Matthews had to play the game with 1 hand completely taped up like a club, but 1 hand or not, that is a 250 pound 4 time pro bowler that Barbre is tossing around.
GhUk04 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

So have no fear Eagles fans, if Jason Peters can’t go this Sunday, we are in good hands with Allen Barbre.