The Eagles running game has been a revelation this year. It's no secret now that Lesean McCoy has been crowned the 2013 NFL Rushing Champion. We've covered the majority of Chip Kelly's run concepts this year (reviews here and here.) For a large portion of the season, Chip Kelly relied heavily on his 5 OL to set the tone in the running game. With all the 2, and sometimes 3. tight end sets we run, Chip does seem to prefer to send out a number of pass options on every play. In other words, I wouldn't exactly call the Chip Kelly running offense a smashmouth, power offense.
But a funny thing started happening in December. As the weather got colder, Kelly adjusted and stopped leaving so many "unblocked" defenders and started to put more TEs on the line to block. James Casey has transitioned from a special teamer only, to a key cog in our running game.
As we've discussed, as well as Sheil Kapadia, the Eagles started to employ a wrinkle to his inside zone read by running a tight end back across the formation to take out the previously unblocked defender. However, on Sunday night, he took the power game to another level and perhaps gave us a glimpse into the type of football he's going to try and win a championship with this January.
As mentioned earlier, while we do use a lot of 2 and 3 TE sets, it's very rare everyone stays in to block on a run play. The Cowboys stacked the box but Kelly, rather uncharacteristically one-upped them. Here's the Eagles with a 7 man line with Celek and Casey on the strong side. In fact, Avant is going to be introduced as an 8th blocker as he comes across the formation:
As the ball is snapped the Eagles use 8 blockers in front of McCoy. 2 guys are unblocked, the edge defenders who are obsessed with setting the edge:
Check out the hole that is opened for McCoy. Interesting to watch where Scandrick goes on this one. He has coverage responsibility on the motioning Avant. He doesn't even notice McCoy coming through a huge hole:
Now he does:
Here's a similar look again. 8 blockers on the line, all going to block for McCoy:
and a nice hole emerges:
Finally, here's Chip Kelly utilizing, gasp!, a fullback with Chris Polk as a lead blocker through the hole as another wrinkle to the inside zone read. Peters, Herremans, Kelce and Mathis are going to double the DTs. Ware is left unblocked as Foles reads him. The wrinkle is that Polk is going to lead the way on the opposite side of the formation to block the second level safety:
Unfortunately, McCoy does not follow Polk, otherwise would have been a big play: