All-22: Nick Foles Brilliant Against the Washington Redskins

The Philadelphia Eagles squared off against the Washington Redskins this past Sunday in what turned out to be another in a long line of classic NFC East divisional games. For the third straight week, Nick Foles lead a 4th quarter game winning drive in what my opinion was the best game he’s played in his career. Yes, even better than his seven touchdown performance against the Oakland Raiders last season. Foles put the team on his back Sunday and carried them across the finish line, and he took a heck of a beating while doing it. He completed just about every throw in the book on Sunday; square outs, curl routes, seam routes, fly routes, crossing routes, etc… and he did so while under extreme duress at times. So in this week’s All-22, I’ll take a look at some of the key passing plays from this past Sunday.

On this first play, Foles completes a touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews for Matthews’ first career touchdown. I highlighted this play to show the importance of the rushing attack for this offense and how geared up Washington was to stop it. Look at how linebacker Perry Riley bites hard on the playaction fake, leaving a wide open space behind him for an easy pitch and catch between Foles and Matthews.
01 foles TD to matthews

This next play comes on 2nd and 5 on the Eagles final drive of the first half. Foles rolls out to his left and is able to hit Matthews in stride for a first down. Foles makes this play look easy, but it is no simple task to hit a guy in stride while rolling out to your left. Not to mention that had this throw been just slightly behind Matthews it would have been broken up by safety Brandon Meriweather.
02 foles roll out left to matthews

Four plays later, Foles hits Matthews for another touchdown on the same route they scored the first one on. This time there is no playaction before the throw. Perry Riley has tight coverage on Matthews, but it doesn’t matter as Foles fits this ball in there perfectly and Matthews does a great job of hauling in the pass while getting both feet down in the end zone. Look at how Foles throws with anticipation on this play. At the time he begins his windup, Matthews isn’t even at the same depth as Riley, let alone behind him.
03 foles second td to matthews

Here is a look from behind the line so you can see what Foles was looking at on this play and how tight a window he was throwing into. The other key part about the timing of this throw is that by the time Riley turns his head to look back for the pass, it’s too late and he is unable to get his hands to the ball as it’s going over his head.
04 2nd td to matthews end zone view

This next play comes from midway through the fourth quarter on the Eagles’ go-ahead drive. It’s 3rd and eight, and Foles delivers a strike to Jeremy Maclin on a deep curl route in the face of pressure. Maclin does an excellent job of catching this pass and getting his knee down. This play was initially ruled as an incomplete pass but was overturned on a challenge by Chip Kelly. Once again, look at the anticipation by Foles. He begins his windup before Maclin even makes his cut. Had he waited until Maclin made his cut to throw, the cornerback would have had a chance to make a play on this ball.
05 foles to maclin first down

Here is a look from the end zone view so you can see the pressure Foles was under on this pass. The Skins run a double stunt to perfection on this play, freeing up Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan to get a clean shot on Foles. It is no matter though, as Foles stands tall, plants his feet, and delivers this throw knowing full well he is about to take a big hit.
06 foles to maclin end zone view

Two plays later, Foles hits Maclin on a seam route for the go-ahead touchdown. Maclin shows on this play that he knows the tricks of the trade when it comes to route running. Watch as he starts off on this play running on a slight angle to his right. This gets Meriweather’s hips pointed to the outside. Maclin then cuts back to the inside, forcing Meriweather to change his hip position as he turns to run downfield, during which time Maclin is able to get separation and beat Meriweather down the field. It’s those little nuances of route running that can make the difference between getting open and being covered.
07 go ahead TD to maclin

This final play was Foles’ last throw of the game. The situation is 2nd and 11 with 1:43 left to play. A first down wins the game as the Skins only have one timeout left. Foles is going to roll out to his left and hit tight end James Casey on an out route for the game clinching first down. Great playcall by Kelly, and great execution by Foles and offense. Foles fits this ball in there perfectly, throwing it into Casey’s gut as opposed to leading him out in front, preventing cornerback David Amerson from getting his hands to the ball. It should be noted that he was also able to do this while he had Meriweather coming full speed ahead at him.
08 game ending pass to casey

Here is a look from behind, so you can see the ball placement and how it prevented Amerson from being able to get his hands to the ball.
09 game ending pass behind view

If he hasn’t done so already, Foles is starting to really turn some heads and prove that he isn’t just a quarterback who can put up big numbers when things are going good, but a quarterback who can win games in the face of adversity. Even Chris Collinsworth seems to be coming around on him based on my “brief discussion” with him via Twitter last night.
Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 7.35.47 AM

Well that raps up this week’s All-22 review. The Eagles head out west to San Fransisco this Sunday as they look to improve to 4-0 in what should be a hard fought game.


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.

Nick Foles and the Art of Throwing Receivers Open

As a quarterback in the NFL, timing is extremely important when it comes to completing a pass. When a defender is in tight coverage, there is a small window of opportunity for the quarterback to be able to get the ball to his receiver. This window opens up immediately after the receiver makes his cut and creates separation from the defender, and then begins to close rather quickly as the defender recovers and gets back into position to make a play on the ball. This is where timing and anticipation come in. If the quarterback is able to begin his windup just as the receiver is beginning to make his cut and is able to put the ball in a spot that allows the receiver to catch it in stride as he is coming out of his break, the result will be a completed pass, even if the defender had great coverage on the play. If the quarterback waits too long to deliver the football, that window of opportunity may have already been shut and now the defender is able to make a play on the ball and break up the pass. For the folks watching the game at home, the play looks like a simple case of great coverage and a great play made by the defender. For the coaches and players reviewing the game film afterwards, this was a missed opportunity for positive yardage.

The act of being able to properly time and anticipate throws like this is dubbed by many analysts as “throwing your receiver open”. It is called this because at the time the quarterback begins his throw, the receiver is covered, but at the time the ball gets to the receiver, there is now separation between him and the defender because he has just completed making his cut and created a few steps of space between them. Thus, the quarterback has effectively “thrown” his receiver open. When a quarterback is able to do this, it makes the pass nearly impossible to defend.

Nick Foles showed last year that he possesses this skill, and it’s one of the many reasons why I think he’ll have another successful season this year. There is no defense for a perfectly thrown ball, and I see Foles getting even better at throwing his receivers open this year than he was last year. The following are some examples of Foles throwing his receivers open during the 2013 season. In each clip, the play is paused at the time that Foles begins his windup, and each time you’ll see that there is no separation between the receiver and the defender.

The first play comes from the week five game against the New York Giants. Foles throws a touchdown to wide receiver DeSean Jackson on a fade route to the back corner of the endzone. On this play, Foles begins his throw just as Jackson begins to make his cut. The cornerback defending Jackson has no idea that the ball is even in the air, which gives Jackson the freedom to make his move and create space, and then go up and get the ball before the defender even knows what happens.
001_jackson fade nyg

This next play is another fade route. This time it’s to wide receiver Riley Cooper during the Oakland Raider game. Foles throws this ball to the back pylon, and once again he begins his throw before Cooper is open. The result is a touchdown.
01_cooper fade oakland

This next play is a wheel route to runningback LeSean McCoy against the Washington Redskins. McCoy is covered by Ryan Kerrigan, which is a mis-match that Foles exploits for a big gain. Once again, Foles doesn’t wait until he sees that McCoy is open to begin his throw. On this play, he doesn’t necessarily “throw” McCoy open as there is no chance that Kerrigan catches him from behind, but he still does make the throw before McCoy has broken free.
02_mccoy wheel washington

This next play comes on a post route to tight end Zach Ertz against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals are in a zone defense on this play, and Foles is able to lead Ertz into the space in between the two safeties for a touchdown. The timing and accuracy of the throw are key on plays like this. Since Foles is able to begin his throw before Ertz begins his cut, by the time the ball arrives the safety is in no position to be able to make a play on the pass. All he can do is tackle Ertz into the end zone. Had Foles waited a split second longer to make this throw, the safety would have been in position to be able to get a hand on the ball and break up the pass. And that’s how a split second can be the difference between an incomplete pass and seven points.
03_ertz post corner AZ

The following play comes on a deep square-in to Riley Cooper against the Washington Redskins. Once again, note the timing. Foles begins his throw as Cooper is making his cut, and the result is a 20+ yard play as the ball gets to Cooper just as he’s coming out of his break and has created separation between himself and the cornerback.
04_cooper square in washington

This last play is another deep square-in to Riley Cooper. This time it comes against the Arizona Cardinals. Just as in the play above, Foles begins his throw as Cooper is making his cut. At the time Foles begins his wind up, there is no separation between Cooper and the cornerback, but at the time the ball gets to Cooper, there is now a little over a yard of separation between himself and the defender. The defender is able to close in after the fact and make the tackle, but not before giving up a 15 yard gain and a first down.
05_cooper square in AZ

Foles’ ability to consistently make throws like this will make it very hard for defenses to prevent the Eagles from moving the chains and getting into the end zone in 2014. A perfect throw almost always beats perfect coverage, and the Philadelphia Eagles have a quarterback who can routinely make the perfect throw.

The Case for Jeremy Maclin: A Response to Bleeding Green Nation

You may have read Allen Rodgriguez’s recent post on Bleeding Green Nation about Jeremy Maclin. In his post, Rodgriguez builds up his case against Maclin being a good receiver, going through a list of points before ending with his conclusion: “In this process, I suppose I have figured out Jeremy Maclin’s one elite skill: tricking people into thinking he’s a really good receiver. Maclin’s production is deceptive. He lacks skills, and most inexcusable is his lack of effort. Now entering his 5th year, I fail to see anything that makes me excited about Maclin’s return. I’ll be happy to be wrong, but I’m unable to be optimistic.”

Before I get started with where I disagree with some of Rodgriguez’s points, I’ll begin with what I agree with him on. I agree with his point regarding misleading statistics, such as the “stat” that some people have been pointing to, showing that Maclin is one of five receivers to register 250 catches, 3500 yards, and 25 touchdowns before their 25th birthday. The other 4 receivers? Larry Fitzgerald, Hakeem Nicks, Randy Moss, and Isaac Bruce. When an accomplishment or “record” has so many qualifications, usually it’s stretching to make a point. For instance, if a receiver had registered 248 catches, 4000 yards, and 40 touchdowns on their 26th birthday, they wouldn’t make it onto this “exclusive” list, but does that really mean anything? I also agree that to date, Maclin hasn’t fully lived up to the expectations of a first round pick. He hasn’t had a breakout year yet, but make no bones about it– he has been a solid receiver.

After that, many of Rodgriguez’s points are crafted and defended using carefully selected stats (i.e. not including the data that would hurt his argument) and carefully selected comparisons (i.e. only comparing DeSean Jackson to Maclin in cases where it makes Jackson look better.) An example of this selective comparison is Rodriguez pointing out that Maclin had 0 catches in his first NFL game, meanwhile Jackson had a 47 yard catch on his second NFL play. But he ignores the fact that it took Jackson 77 games to finally have his first career multi touchdown game, meanwhile Maclin had a multi touchdown game in his 4th career game, and has had three more since then. Also, most of the statistics Rodgriguez references for Maclin are only from the 2012 season, ignoring the rest of his career. Using that logic, I could show that LeSean McCoy is a below average running back using only the 2012 numbers. You can read my previous post where I lay out the case for why Jeremy Maclin can be a very productive receiver in this offense.

So let’s delve further into the numbers Rodgriguez provides in his article.

In the section on Maclin’s hands, Rodgriguez states, “Maclin dropped 11.7% of catchable balls. League average of all WR was 9.7%.” This was true for the 2012 season, but why ignore 2009 to 2011?

  • In 2011, Maclin had a drop rate of 8.7%, which was ranked 40th out of the 95 receivers who played 25% of their offensive snaps. Meanwhile, DeSean Jackson had a drop rate of 13.43% in 2011, which ranked him 77th on the list.
  • In 2010, Maclin had a drop rate of 9.09%, placing him at number 46 out of 89. Where was DeSean Jackson? Just “slightly” behind him in 87th place, with a drop rate of 18.97%.
  • In 2009, Maclin had a drop rate of 8.33%, ranking him 54th out of 101. DeSean Jackson was ranked 45th with a drop rate of 7.35%.
  • So essentially, from 2009 to 2011, Maclin was in the middle of the pack for drop rate from the receiver position, and then had one bad year in 2012 when it came to drops. Meanwhile, Jackson had two bad years when it came to dropping the ball during that same time period (including a year where literally only two receivers were worse). Curious that Rodgriguez would choose to leave this DeSean Jackson comparison out of his piece.

    Yards After Catch (YAC)
    In this section, Rodgriguez states that “Maclin has been disgraceful after the catch. His yards after catch per reception was 4.2, compared to a league average for all WR of 4.5.” How can Maclin be “disgraceful” after the catch, if his yards per catch per reception is right around average? Wouldn’t it be more accurate and factual to simply state “Maclin has been average after the catch”?

    To give you the full picture:

  • In 2012 Maclin ranked 48th in YAC per reception out of the 105 receivers who played at least 25% of their team’s snaps. Again, this is average, but certainly not disgraceful.
  • In 2011, Maclin ranked 52nd out of 115 receivers with a YAC per reception of 4.4. (Note: Pro Football Focus has 115 receivers listed for YAC but only 95 listed for drop rate.) Interestingly, in 2011, DeSean Jackson had a YAC per reception of 4.3, good for 58th place. So, if we’re just going by one year and making comparisons between Maclin and Jackson, it’s interesting that Rodgriguez left this comparison out.
  • In 2010, Maclin ranked 59th out of 110 receivers with a YAC per reception of 3.9, slightly below average.
  • And in 2009, Maclin ranked 44th out of 107 receivers with a YAC per reception of 4.5.
  • Overall, when looking at his career in totality, Maclin has been middle of the pack in terms of YAC per reception.

    Rodgriguez then posts a few gifs showing some of Maclin’s negative plays. Here are some gifs of Maclin making good plays to keep this thing balanced.

    Here’s Maclin making a nice sideline catch at the end of the Denver Broncos game in 2009 to set up the game winning field goal.
    Maclin catch vs Denver 01
    Maclin catch vs Denver 02

    Here’s Maclin showing some great concentration and field awareness bringing in this long bomb against Washington in 2010.
    mac long bomb

    Here’s Maclin showing some great effort against the Giants in the Miracle at the Meadowlands Part II. On this pass to Celek, Maclin hustles downfield to stay with his man and then de-cleats him to ensure that Celek has a clear path to the endzone.
    Maclin block

    And from later in that game, here’s “self tacklin’ Maclin” (according to Rodgriguez, via Jimmy Kempski) scoring the game tying touchdown late in the 4th quarter, putting a move on the defensive back before picking up a couple of “disgraceful” yards after the catch.
    Maclin tying TD

    On this play from 2011 against Atlanta, Maclin catches a short crossing route over the middle, and then turns up field splitting two linebackers and diving forward to pick up a key first down on 3rd and 8.
    self tacklin maclin

    And finally, here’s Maclin with another clutch grab. This time it’s the game winner with 0 seconds left on the clock against Tampa Bay in 2012.
    maclin game winning td

    I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Maclin has proven that he is a stud receiver. He hasn’t. What he has proven thus far in his NFL career is that he has been a solid starter who averages 65 catches, 863 yards, and 6-7 touchdowns per year. Plenty of Superbowl winning teams had either their #1 or #2 receiver finish the season with similar (or even worse) production (see Golden Tate- 2013, Torrey Smith- 2012, Donald Driver and Jordy Nelson and James Jones- 2010, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem- 2009, etc.)

    I’ll leave you with this. Here are a few things many of us thought we “knew” upon entering the 2013 season. We “knew” that DeSean Jackson was a one trick pony who would never get more than 65 catches in a season. We “knew” that Riley Cooper was a #4 receiver at best, and a bad #4 at that. But we all saw how playing in Chip Kelly’s offense with Nick Foles at quarterback changed things. So before we write off Jeremy Maclin as destined to never be more than average, and before we try to selectively look at certain stats of certain years to portray him as a below average receiver, can we at least give him the same fair shot that the receivers in this offense got last year? If Riley Cooper could go from being a non-factor to being an important contributor on one of the best offenses in the NFL, it’s certainly probably that Jeremy Maclin can go from being a solid receiver to a very good one.

    Philadelphia Eagles vs Minnesota Vikings All-22 Film Review

    Well, I guess the winning streak had to come to an end at some point. This game had every feeling of a trap game, and unfortunately for us Eagles fans, it turned out to be exactly that. In this post, I’ll examine some of the key plays, good and bad, that brought about a loss for the Eagles this week.

    First up is Matt Cassel’s 57 yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. Cassel may be a backup at this point in his career, but you can’t sleep on him. He has shown the ability to play at a high level, and he can play the position like a true pro. Throws like this are perfect examples of that. Nate Allen is playing deep, but Cassel looks him off to his left, thus opening up space for Jennings on the deep right part of the field. He then works the pocket, stepping up to prevent Trent Cole and Fletcher Cox from getting to him before delivering a perfect strike for the touchdown.

    01_jennings td

    Here’s the view from the endzone so you can see how Cassel works the pocket on this play.

    01a_second view

    The Eagles’ ensuing drive stalled in the redzone when on 3rd down, Nick Foles was sacked by Jared Allen. Foles was looking in Riley Cooper’s direction after the snap. Cooper runs a square in on this play, but is covered tightly. I’m not sure if there was some mis-communication there, it almost looked like he was about to run a fade route but ended up running the square in. What was missed is that on the right side of the field, Zach Ertz got open on a corner route (which they connected on later in the game)

    02_foles sack

    On the next Eagles’ drive which resulted in a field goal (we’ll get to that later), Foles made a clutch throw on 3rd and 9, delivering a 17 yard strike to Desean Jackson as Minnesota linebacker Audie Cole came in unblocked on a blitz. Check out the job of Foles does of standing in the pocket to deliver this ball, taking a few steps to his right to by an extra split second of time before setting his feet to throw, knowing full well he’s about to get creamed.

    04_foles throw in pressure on 3rd downAnd now we get to why that drive ended in a field goal. Chip Kelly made a gutsy call to go for it on 4th down, and makes an even gutsier call to run a double reverse which ends up scoring a touchdown, only to get called by due to an illegal block by Nick Foles. Even though the play ended up not counting, I’m going to show it anyway because it really was a great call that caught the Vikings completely by surprise, so here it is.

    05_reverse td

    With the Eagles trailing 24-9 early in the 3rd quarter, their second drive of the half ended with a Nick Foles interception. This was just a bad read and decision by Foles on this play. The Vikings have the deep pass sniffed out as defensive back Shaun Prater initially starts off on Riley Cooper, but then releases him to the safety and goes to cover Jackson. If Foles was going to throw to Jackson on this play, he needed to hit him on his first cut to the sideline immediately after the playaction fake. By the time Foles threw to Jackson, it was too late. At that point, he should have just hit his checkdown to Chris Polk to his left for the safe gain.

    06 foles int

    The Eagles began to mount a comeback late in the third quarter when Nick Foles connected with Desean Jackson on a 30 yard touchdown pass on a corner route. Foles does a great job on this play of looking off the safety, preventing him from being in position to make a play on this pass.
    07 jackson td

    And here is the endzone view.
    07a jackson td 2nd view

    And finally we come to the play that in my opinion put the dagger in the Eagles’ hopes of a comeback and completely deflated their sails. After scoring 2 straight touchdowns to make it a 5 point game, the Eagles’ defense had the Vikings in a 3rd down situation with 14 yards to go on the Eagles 42 yard line. But they give up a 37 yard pass to tight end Chase Ford which lead to a touchdown and shifted the momentum back in the Vikings’ favor. Eagles’ linebacker Mychal Kendricks has Ford in man coverage on this play, but Ford ends up winning this battle to make the catch just beyond Kendricks’ outstretched fingers. Colt Anderson then makes things worse with a missed tackle that allows Ford to pick up an additional 25 yards after the catch. Here is the play

    08 3rd down conversionWell that’s it for this week’s All-22 review. The Eagles face the Chicago Bears Sunday night in Philadelphia, which potentially could decide the NFC East division championship if Dallas loses to Washington earlier in the day.

    Philadelphia Eagles vs Detroit Lines All-22 Film Review

    What a game, what a game, WHAT A GAME!  I’ll keep this short and sweet and let you know up front that there won’t be much “analysis” going into this week’s All-22 review. I can’t even use any film from the first half since the snow was so bad it was hard to even make out who was who while watching it. So what I have done here is take 5 big runs from the monstrous 4th quarter the Eagles put up and will show them here from the endzone view so you can see how the line opened up the holes they did.

    In the first half, I felt that Chip Kelly was calling too many east/west runs for the weather conditions. I think what we saw in the 4th quarter was a combination of the following things: Kelly calling more north/south runs, McCoy hitting the hole harder, and the offensive line getting a great push and wearing down the Detroit Lions’ defensive line. In a game in these types of conditions, it’s all about momentum. Once you can get a solid push on the guy you are blocking, it’s very hard for that player to recover and stop you from pushing him backwards. I also think that in this game, you saw the difference in conditioning between the Eagles and the Lions. When the ground is covered in snow like that, it makes it that much harder to move and you have to exert extra strength and take extra strides to move the same distance you normally would. And I think that played a big factor into why by the 4th quarter, the Eagles’ offensive and defensive lines were able to win the battle in the trenches.

    First up is McCoy’s 40 yard touchdown run. Todd Herramins does a great job of clearing Ndamukong Suh out of the hole, and Lane Johnson does a great job of getting to the second level and putting a block on linebacker Stephen Tulloch, and Shady does the rest on this 40 yard TD scamper.
    McCoy 40 yard TD run on Make A Gif

    Next up is McCoy’s 57 yard TD run a few minutes later. The line again does a great job of opening up a running lane for McCoy, and this time Jason Avant makes a great block downfield to spring Shady for this 57 yard TD.
    McCoy 57 yd td run on Make A Gif

    This next play is just ridiculous. Check out some of the jump cuts McCoy makes on this run. It’s like someone forgot to tell him that it had just snowed 6″. I literally have no idea how he was able to keep his footing on this run.
    McCoy 25 yard run on Make A Gif

    Nick Foles decides to get into the action on this next one, as he takes this read option keeper for a 20 yard gain.

    Foles read option on Make A Gif

    Next up is Chris Polk’s 38 yard TD run to put the game out of reach and take a 34-20 lead. Tight end James Casey does a great job of getting across the line and putting a block on Lions’ safety Louis Delmas to seal off the weakside for Polk.
    Polk TD run on Make A Gif

    And finally we end with the 4th and 12 yard play to ice the game (no pun intended). This play is a simple read.  Foles has two options on this play, handoff to Chris Polk, or throw the seam route to Brent Celek. On this play, Foles reads the safety, and if the safety stays back, he hands off to Polk, if the safety bites on the run fake, then throw it to Celek. As you’ll see below, the safety comes in, making this an easy choice for Foles to make an easy touch pass to Celek to end the game.

    Celek catch game ender

    Good teams find ways to win no matter the circumstance or conditions, and that’s what the Eagles did on Sunday. And with Dallas losing to Chicago on Monday night, the Eagles are now in sole possession of first place in the NFC East as they travel out to Minnesota for next week’s game against the Vikings.

    All-22 Review: Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals

    In this week’s segment of All-22 film reviews, I break down 4 plays from the Week 13 game vs. the Arizona Cardinals.  Let’s get into it…

    Desean Jackson 14 yard Bubble Screen

    This first play comes from the first drive of the second quarter for the Eagles.  On this play, Jackson, Brent Celek, and Zach Ertz are going to be out wide to the right, with Celek and Ertz set up as blockers for the screen pass to Desean.  Here is the diagram of the play.01

    As you can see, the numbers for the screen pass are in the Eagles’ favor.  They have 3 receivers to the right, and Arizona has only 2 defenders.  Celek and Ertz are going to lay good blocks on their men, springing Jackson for a 14 yard gain.  Here is the play in motion.
    Desean Jackson bubble screen on Make A Gif

    Riley Cooper 24 yard reception

    This play came later in the 2nd quarter, and it’s a play we’ve seen before with similar success.  Here is the diagram of the play.01

    McCoy is going to come across Foles for the handoff, but Foles reads the weakside safety creeping up to the line of scrimmage, leaving Riley Cooper single covered as he runs a curl route.  Foles pulls the ball back and fires it out to Cooper.  The pass is high, but Cooper bails Foles out with an amazing one-handed grab, makes the cornerback miss, and takes this play for a 24 yard gain.  The Eagles ran this same exact play against Tampa Bay a few weeks back and turned it into a 40+ yard gain.

    Here is the play in motion.
    Riley Cooper Curl Route on Make A Gif

    Nick Foles 9 yard read option keeper

    This play came on the first drive of the 3rd quarter that lead to the touchdown that gave the Eagles a 24-7 lead. Here is the diagram of the play.01

    The Eagles are set up for the bubble screen on the left side of the field, but the Cardinals have 3 men on that side and have it covered.  McCoy comes across for the handoff, but the unblocked outside linebacker (John Abraham) crashes in on McCoy, leaving the outside wide open for Nick Foles to run. Jason Peters does a great job on this play of getting to the second level and putting a good block on Karlos Dansby, guaranteeing that Foles will have a comfortable running lane on this play.

    Here is the play in motion.
    Nick Foles Read Option on Make A Gif

    Zach Ertz 24 yard TD reception

    This play gave the Eagles a 24-7 lead early in the third quarter.  The Cardinals are in a zone defense on this play.  Ertz is going to run a deep post route, and be 1 on 1 with safety Rashad Johnson.  Here is the diagram of the play.01

    Ertz does a great job of selling the corner route, drawing the safety away from the middle of the field just enough to make Foles’ job a little easier.  This play is a textbook anticipation throw by Nick Foles.  As you’ll see from the clip below, as Nick Foles releases the ball, Ertz is just starting to make his cut.  Foles throws the ball with perfect accuracy, hitting Ertz right in stride on the post route, and with perfect timing as Johnson can’t get there in time to make a play on the ball.  Here is the play motion.
    Zach Ertz TD on Make A Gif
    That’s it for this week’s All-22 review, see you next time!

    Eagles’ Front 7 Getting the Job Done Against the Redskins in Week 11

    Don’t be fooled by the box score and the amount of yards the Eagles’ defense gave up this game.  While it wasn’t a complete and all out domination for 60 minutes, the defense, and specifically the front 7, made some big stops at key moments in the game to help lead the Eagles to victory. Here are some of the highlights:

    Brandon Graham knifing through the offensive line to tackle Alfred Morris for a 3 yard loss.Graham 3 yard loss

    Bennie Logan showing great agility to meet Alfred Morris in the hole and stuff him for a 1 yard loss.Logan 1 yard loss

    Connor Barwin with a huge sack and fumble in the redzone.Barwin Sack Fumble

    Fletcher Cox and Connor Barwin with a huge stop on 3rd and 2. Cox does a great job here of fighting off his block and filling what could have been a nice hole for Morris to run through.Fletcher Cox 3rd and 2 stop

    Najee Goode with a sack on Griffin.Goode sack

    Trent Cole with a sack on Griffin. He does a great job here of knocking left tackle Trent Williams’ arms away, preventing Williams from getting his hands to his chest.Cole sack

    Cedric Thornton getting a great push against the run, stopping Morris for a 1 yard loss on 2nd and 1. I pause the clip midway through, take a look at how he surges at the end to push the offensive lineman back into Morris once he sees Morris trying to cut back.Thornton penetration

    Vinny Curry getting a good jump off the snap and getting into the backfield, forcing Morris to have to cut back into the teeth of the defense. Curry also gets a hand of his jersey, slowing him up a bit. The line of scrimmage is at the 25 yard line. When Curry forces Morris to cut up field, he’s at around the 21 yard line, 4 yards deep into the backfield.Curry penetration

    Great to see the front 7 playing aggressive, swarming to the ball, and making plays.  Enjoy the week off fellas, you’ve earned it.

    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!