Go To Play for Eagles on 3rd and 6


I got the idea to do this from an article by Matt Bowen on National Football Post. He was detailing what his 'Got To Have It' play would be on a 3rd and 6 situation.

Dude does a hell of a job providing a technical view of football, breaking down schemes and strategies. This is extremely rare to find.

So anyway, I thought a little bit about creating something indefensible play (also a nod to Vick's recent statement that defenses can no longer scheme to stop him) and came up with the following as a 'Got To Have It' play for the 2011 Eagles:

Ace Gun Rt, Pass 8929, A-Arrow, Y-Go

It's been a while since I've diagrammed plays, but this was a great thought exercise. I drew it up versus the Cover 3 look that Matt had sketched out. Now the particulars:

Assumptions -

If I'm a DC, I'm playing zone against the Eagles on 3rd Down. Otherwise, your corner's have their backs turned and we know what happens.


Diagram of Ace Gun Rt, Pass 8929 A-Arrow, Y-Go


Formation -

I'm not a fan of Andy's tight bunch formations (so I took one of the formations that Bowen had on his Eagles' Hi-Lo route combinations page, but I spread them out). Eagles OL is shaky. It is a misconception in the league that Vick is not good against the blitz. He was actually very good against the blitz. What gave him and the rest of the Eagles fits toward the end of 2010 season was secondary pressure (because it's far harder for him to juke someone who can also run a 4.3 or 4.4, as opposed to most LBs and DEs).

The Tight Bunch formations give DBs a short corner and the ability to disguise secondary pressure. Spread them out and make them either show it or call it off.

The Play -

This play goes weakside (left) and attempts to isolate the Eagles' best inside receiver, Avant, in space, while putting tremendous pressure on anyone with responsibility for contain. Maclin and Avant are the Twins to the left. Jackson and Celek (flexed) are Twinned to the Right.

Vick's primary options on this, based off the pre-snap are:

1 - Slot Receiver (Avant - W) on the Quick Slant,
1a - Flexed TE on the Slant part of the route on the 'strong side',
2 - McCoy on the Angle Route, crossing the face of the Mike if he drops deep, or climbing if the Mike scrapes to the left to Spy or contain.
3rd, omnipresent option is to run to the sticks if the pocket collapses or somehow the three underneath routes are covered.

Depending upon the coverage and his protection, he can also look to the skinny post to Jackson. If the CB takes an absurdly deep drop, Maclin also has the option to convert to a comeback at around 20 yds. Chances are the play is over by then, though.

Pre-Snap -

Check out the Nickel, the Mike, (and the Sam and Strong Safety). The Offensive Strength is to the Eagles' Right. You would think that the Free and the Mike would want to shade that way to provide over the top help on Jackson.

There are two 'open' routes (the slants for Avant and Celek), so that Vick has an option in the event of major pressure. If either the N or SS blitz, W and Y have Sight Adjust responsibility** and convert to a Seam. (by Open Routes - I mean routes where the receiver is looking over his shoulder back toward the QB the entire time, so the QB does not have to wait until he gets to his break to release the ball). On a lot of the sacks Vick has taken, we're in play action with late developing routes, or what appears to be the 'Hot' is a shallow cross where a 6'0" QB has to thread the ball between 6'5"+ OL and DL to hit a short receiver in stride in front of linebackers and a trailing defender.

On the Arrow route, McCoy chips the outside shoulder of the DE or outermost rusher, and then works back across the formation, more shallow or deeper depending upon what the Mike is doing.

If the Nickle has solid coverage on the Quick Slant, Avant can either sit down in the hole (to hold him there if Vick can run for the first) or work his way back to the sideline and force the N to choose run support or coverage. Maclin, at X, is running an influence '9' (Go or Streak), fighting for outside leverage just to make the FS have to choose who to help.

Celek, if he doesn't get the ball on the Slant look, continues up the deep middle on the Go, preventing the FS from helping over the top on Jackson. And finally, Jackson stems toward outside leverage, lets the CB take it away, and runs a skinny post inside of him.

I don't see how a defense could stop this. If the DE on the left maintains containment, that should mean that Vick has plenty of time to hit the deeper options, including taking a look at the skinny post or waiting for McCoy to come free on the Arrow/Cross.

If there is immediate pressure, there are safety valves on both sides.

Another wrinkle to add would be to have Maclin convert to a skinny post (8) if the FS flows away hard or blitzes.

Basically, this play, as drawn up, takes away the three schemes teams have used specifically against the Eagles with Vick as QB (Secondary Pressure, Drop Eight, and Spy).

If they blitz heavy and go man with Cover 1 behind it, its either 6 (because one of the outside receivers will be open), an easier completion to either Avant or Celek, or Vick for 15 yards around the edge, untouched. Pick your poison.

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