For #13 on the list we re-visit the mesh concept that we highlighted back at play #22. There, we focused on the mesh concept underneath that is combined with a wheel route out of the backfield. It's a concept Chip went to a lot through the regular season and it is unlikely to go away with the addition of Darren Sproles in the backfield.
Last week Sheil Kapadia and Villanova coach Brian Flinn (@Coach_Flinn) did a really nice piece on the mesh concept. Check it out here. As Sheil mentioned in that post, it didn't take long for opposing defense to switch to man coverage against the Eagles offense in 2013. And based on recent comments from Chip, he expects we will continue to see that in 2014 and beyond and it's impacted our roster decisions particularly at WR. One of the things Chip employed to counteract the man coverage were mesh or rub concepts that are designed to create traffic on shallow crossing routes underneath. The idea is that the coverage player ends up getting caught by a natural pick underneath freeing up one or both of the crossing WRs.
One area where you can expect mostly man coverage is in the tight area of the red zone. Here, teams are more likely to send pressure and to play man coverage. Naturally, Chip saw this as a great opportunity to use the mesh concept. One of the key elements of the mesh concept is the "rub". This is where the crossing receivers essentially "rub" against each other. The closer they cross, the more likely it is that the chasing defender collides in traffic freeing a receiver on either side. For #13 on the ChipWagon Top 25 Brent Celek scores a touchdown, but also gets bonus points for lo-fiving Riley Cooper in the end zone before the catch:
The Eagles are expecting a blitz and man coverage (note the DB following Riley Cooper in motion signalling man coverage). They are in "12" personnel with 2 Tight Ends with one in the backfield (James Casey) who does a great job in blitz pick-up. That block is absolutely key to the execution of this play. One of the knocks on the mesh concept is that it takes some time to develop and requires the QB to process who will come out free. Longer developing plays are generally a no-no in the red zone, but this is nice play design as it has the 2 backs in the backfield responsible for blitz pick-up. Of course if the pressure comes free the QB can throw the ball out of the end zone.
Celek will sneak out and run the shallow cross as Casey picks up his blitzer. The motioning Riley Cooper is going to run the shallow cross the other way:
Here's a shot after the rub, you'll notice Jason Avant also runs into the crowd and you see the traffic the Honey Badger has to try and navigate through. Celek is open as Foles is about to unload. Excellent blitz pick-up by Casey:
Of course this wasn't the first time we saw this play. We ran it a bit earlier in the season with the same "12" personnel but out of a slightly different pre-snap alignment in a similar situation against the Raiders in Foles' hall of fame performance. Here Casey is lined up behind Brent Celek. Again, Brent will sneak out and run the shallow drag and Shady and Casey's roles are in blitz pick-up. Riley Cooper (outside of the screen) motions into the slot and will run the other shallow drag.
Here's the mesh and once again you can see the traffic. Once again Jason Avant is adding to the chaos. Casey turns his man to the inside and Shady has his man on the edge:
Celek pops out for another easy TD: