2 weeks without Eagles football at this stage when we are in the thick of the division race is pretty painful to endure. There were some great games yesterday, but I still missed watching my birds. Everything about the Redskins game has been beaten to death and we now wait another week before we can see what else the Eagles put on film for Chip Kelly's rookie season.
So given the downtime, I though we'd take an opportunity to look back through the first 11 games of the Chip Kelly era and recap exactly what the Chip Kelly offense has been all about. All the talk in the offseason was the mystery of what the Chip Kelly offense would look like, how much of it would be the Oregon offense, what impact Pat Shurmur (if any) would have, tempo, mobile QBs, etc., etc.
Well, 11 games in and I feel I have a pretty good handle on what the Chip Kelly offense is all about and what he likes to do on the offensive side of the ball. So let's break down a multi-part series of Chip Kelly offense to recap what we've seen so far and hope that maybe, just maybe, this makes the next week go a little faster.
Naturally, I am going to start the first post of this series with the Chip Kelly and the Eagles bread and butter play. It was his "go-to-work" play in Oregon, and it remains that in Philadelphia. The Inside Zone Read. First, before reading further on this post, I highly recommend checking out this video at Fishduck.com that explains in great detail, very clearly what the inside zone read was at Oregon. It's a great piece and will help with your understanding of what Chip is trying to do in Philly.
To keep things relatively simple, the idea behind the inside zone read is to leave a defender (and as you will see it can be different defenders) unblocked. That unblocked defender is the "read" and depending on what he does, the QB can choose a series of "options".
Thanks to our new collaborator Bob, here's what happens when the "read-option" works REALLY well:
QB hands off:
Let's take a close look at how these happened. To start with the big play from Vick, note pre-snap we are facing a 3-3 stack. Note in the video, we get this 3-3 stack because the Eagles are lining up in their now imfamous double stack formation which spreads the field and leaves the middle open. We have 5 OL and a RB against 6 blockers. On this play, the RDE is going to be the "read" for Vick:
Watch as he explodes unblocked through the line of scrimmage and attacks Bryce Brown. At the mesh point, Vick has the decision to hand-off, or keep. Here the DE is totally playing the run on Brown. Because of this unblocked defender the Eagles only have 5 defenders to block. They have 5 OL, and they all execute their blocks:
Vick keeps and you see the space he has to run:
Here's the other side of the coin. The Eagles are once again facing a 3-3 stack, but this time a safety creeps into the edge. He is the read on this play. Post-snap, the Eagles have 5 OL to block 7 defenders. That defender count drops to 6 because Vick is "blocking" the blitzing safety. You see the play develop and the Eagles have the initial 5 blocked. Note the double team on #94. McCoy has a nice hole, but Derrick Johnson is going to try and fill it:
But Herremans will peel off his double and take out Johnson. The hole remains, and the result is a TD for McCoy.
The results of these two plays really highlight the pick your poison element of the read-option. It forces the defense to hand you a numbers advantage allowing you to even the playing field.
I wanted to start with those 2 plays, because they show something different than the "traditional" read-option we were all fed from the media last year. According to a lot of national experts, the read-option was a gimmick. It was narrowly defined as a QB handoff-keeper option where the QB read the back-side (most often)defensive end.On those two plays above, we read a 3-4 DE and a safety. As you will see later in the week in this series, we also read a defender to set up a passing play.
But to be fair, there has been a lot of "traditional" read-option:
And check out the holes:
And my personal favorite end-zone shot of the year. JPP wanted offensive holding called on Michael Vick:
And we even get them with Foles at QB:
And of course coaches hate giving up those yards on the ground through massive holes. So as a result, we get this:
and this too:
Foles even faked out the end zone cameraman:
As part of this series, we'll get into packaged plays later this week, in which the read-option component plays a part in some of those. However in the meantime, we've also had some fun plays like this.
Here's a 3 man line against a 5 man box.
Kerrigan is the unblocked defender and read:
and the very same read-option concept applies:
And we've also seen the triple option from the inside zone read. Foles reads the back-side DE:
Choose to keep. Now has a second read. He can either keep or pitch. He pitches to Cooper for a big gain.
One more triple option from last weekend. Foles can hand off, keep, or pitch to Jackson:
Stay Tuned for Part 2 where we will cover the outside zone read and sweep read.