From the day the buzz was created of Jeffrey Lurie's interest in Chip Kelly as the next head coach of the Eagles, I have read a ton of great articles about Chip, his philosophy, and football in general. Two of the better pieces I read over the summer came from the fantastic Chris Brown and Bill Barnwell from Grantland.
Within those articles the authors go on to describe "packaged" plays as the newest form of option football and break down all kinds of tape to explain the concepts. I personally have coined this kind of option football, which often incorporates elements of the read option, as "play-action on steroids"
You see, a lot of people following last season started to call the read-option a fad, much like the wildcat that was going to disappear as quickly as it emerged in pro football. The NFL defenses are too big, fast, and smart to allow such a "gimmick" to work in the NFL.
Instead of comparing the read-option to the wildcat (which is absolutely absurd if you ask me)...why not compare it to one of the concepts that has truly revolutionized the game of football. Play-action. However, when you read through th Grantland articles and start seeing the concept of packaged plays in action...you really can't help but convince yourself that this is better than play-action. Play-action is a pre-snap, pre-conceived call either in the huddle or at the line. It is a form of football deception, but the moment the QB takes the snap he, and the rest of the players on the offensive side of the ball, know whether he is going to keep the ball, or hand it off. Of course as deceptive and dangerous as play-action is, the fact that 11 guys on the offensive side know what the play is going to be (run or pass) means that the defense has 11 different guys to look for tells, clues, etc. that may give them an edge. And of course some QBs execute fakes better than others, for example Peyton Manning vs. Donovan McNabb.
So anyway, we saw especially with the Foles offense a number of packaged plays in the preseason in Chip Kelly's offense. We saw it on full display in week 1 against the Redskins where Sheil showed how we ran the same play 5 times against the Redskins but with different options.
So considering that these concepts are a core part of our offense, hopefully the defense has had lots of practice to defend them. Because here comes Peyton Manning and I couldn't help but notice a few things from the Colts-Eagles game back in 2010.
Chris Brown described in one of his articles how Peyton Manning has made packaged plays famous by calling audibles at the line depending on what a key defensive player does.
"I see you Ernie!"
After recognizing Ernie Sims pre-snap, Peyton verifies he's blitzing and his TE knows to cut off his route and sit in the area vacated by the Sims:
So that was textbook, pre-snap Peyton Manning. But Manning doesn't save all his reads for pre-snap. This is the one that should look familiar to Eagles fans.
Eagles in the base nickel. As the playclock winds down, Fokou is going to creep up to the line.
Post-snap is the read option where Manning is reading Fokou to decide whether to hand off to Brown or keep the ball. Of course, Peyton Manning is not going to run with the ball on the read-option, so if you take a look at the bottom of the screen you'll see the makings of a nicely developing bubble screen:
And here's another. Very similar to the pop pass packaged plays we saw with Celek in week 1 and Desean in week 2. Peyton is going to run it with Austin Collie in the slot
Read option. The DE collapses down to play the run, but Peyton is reading the LB highlighted with the yellow arrow. He attacks the run inside, and Collie sits and takes the screen. He stays on Collie, and Peyton hands off to Brown. It's also important to note the positioning of the safety. Since he's playing almost 10 yards off the ball, Collie going to sit instead of going out on a route:
One would think the Eagles defense has had lots of practice against looks like these, so hopefully they are prepared!
And one more play, for you Chip Kelly afficianados:
Peyton gets 7 in the box. 3 on the outside with a deeper safety.
WWCKD? (What Would Chip Kelly Do?)
Methinks Peyton Manning would pass the Chip Kelly sniff test.