So after 2 terrible offensive showings in a row, the NFL media has finally gone full steam into the "league has figured out Chip Kelly" stuff. Oh it seems so long ago since that opening Monday against the Redskins that had analysts and journalists around the country drooling over how Chip Kelly was going to change the NFL. Now he's just another college has been.
So Kelly now needs to spend the next week answering questions about this.
“I don’t think that people have it figured out,” said Kelly at his day-after press conference. “You can turn the tape on and watch six games of whoever you play that I can tell you what they’re going to do. I can tell you what Peyton Manning is going to do but you still have to stop them. It’s still about executing and I think everybody kind of knows going into the game plan, you’re not going to surprise people eight games into a [season].”
Questions about the passing game will continue to be a concern until we find a QB capable of playing consistently. But what's up with the running game? The latest theory is that the read-option doesn't work. Or without a running threat at QB, the running lanes are gone.
I'm here to tell you that the scheme is just fine thank you very much. The challenges most recently on tape against the Giants is as Kelly suggested, all about overcoming execution errors. Two biggest areas of blame:
1) The Running Backs. Kelly made some comment in his PC yesterday saying the coaches were stressing a philosophy that "line get us 2, back get us 2. It all starts with push up front on the offensive line, and then trusting your blocks. For whatever reason, McCoy and Brown are not trusting their blocks and focusing too much on breaking the big play. They aren't taking the simple yards in front of them.
2) OL execution issues. Overall, I think the OL has steadily gotten better, but there are still some issues with sustaining blocks, or flat out whiffing that lead to negative plays.
I think the scheme is just fine, and continues to look good on tape. The players need to be better.
Let's look at some stuff, starting with point #1: The RBs. McCoy is trying to make too much happen. Instead of getting positive yardage by putting his head down and hitting the hole, he's trying to run around blocks. Here's are some examples:
Note Jason Peters gets beaten cleanly off the snap:
A hole is there, a safety is filling it, but you can see he's already anticipating McCoy going wide. McCoy needs to put his head down and take positive yardage:
Instead he tries to cut back and has a long run for 0.
This one is a standard inside zone read:
Vick reads Kiwanuka who is left unblocked. This shot really highlights the respect Vick gets. You see Kiwi is frozen, but the LB is also frozen leaving lots of room for Lesean on the strong side.
Herremans peels off for a block on the second level, a really nice hole emerges:
But McCoy hesitates and stutters...and goes back into the weak side, unblocked DE. Again, this is our bread and butter play. McCoy is really struggling on the mental side of things:
Unfortunately, McCoy's back-up Bryce Brown, isn't doing well either. This is a sweep read, which is really the play they seem to have the most confidence in Brown running:
Kelce is going to pull outside of Peters:
You see Brown has a huge hole to explode up into:
But he continues to try and push it the outside and the result is a minimal gain.
Similar play, same problem with McCoy:
Put your head down and get the positive yards:
Keeps going outside:
Moving on to point #2, it's execution along the OL. And for the most part, I felt the OL was pretty good. But there were some execution errors.
Here's another one of our money plays. It's the power play with Jason Peters pulling and hitting a LB in the hole. This play was made for a monster like Jason Peters:
He pulls and hits the hole:
The old Jason Peters unloads on Jon Beason and puts him on his butt. I expect a pancake here:
Jason doesn't extend his arms and get his weight into him. Instead the result is a big bear hug and Peters can't sustain his block:
That's a match-up I don't anticipate Jason Peters losing:
Here's Lane Johnson looking like a rookie:
So where is the optimism coming from? I think you are seeing, that the design of the plays are OK. It's just the players are not executing as well as they were several weeks back.
Let's take a quick look at what we did well.
"Line get us 2, Back get us 2". This Chip quote in pictures. The yellow line is the LOS. Off the snap, you see the OL has done their job:
Here's a sweep read, where McCoy got it right:
Mathis pulls and gets a great block:
McCoy cuts to the big hole inside:
One note on the read-option. Will defenses just ignore Matt Barkley or Nick Foles because they aren't a running threat. I talked about this in yesterday's scathing post targeted at Moose Johnston. In short, no I don't think that theory bears fruit as of yet. If anything, the bigger issue is more simple. Barkley and/or Foles have to scare teams down the field, otherwise, they'll bring an extra DB in the box. This is the most common look the Giants deployed against Barkley yesterday:
DBs up, one safety deep, 7 in the box. The Giants used a DB for backside contain to protect against a Barkley keeper:
Here's what it looks like from the end zone cam:
7 in the box, and good gap play with no room to run:
Otherwise, even a guy like Matt Barkley is going to garner some respect. Again, here is the read sweep:
The DT is the read, but you see the Eagles actually leave 2 defenders unblocked. I'll also highlight through the next few images an amazing job of blocking by Kelce:
But check how Barkley freezes the 2 DL highlighted in red on the play fake. They are completely out of this play:
And check out Kelce finishing his block:
Anyway...a long-winded way to illustrate that the scheme is still working. Players just need to execute better.