Deconstructing a Dumb(***) Play - Goal Line Fumble

As many, many others have already pointed out, the AZ game was basically a Greatest Hits compilation of Andyball. I think that NFC East opponents would shell out 19.99 plus S+H for a leather-bound, pewter-embossed collection from the Franklin Mint entitled "Andy Reid: A Decade Of". Nothing but Hits (on our quarterbacks).

Anyway, I'll deconstruct one of the most egregious problems from Sunday here. The goal line fumble which all but sealed the game for AZ.There are so many things which were dumb about that play that I have to spread out the analysis over several screenshots. I'll admit that I fell prey to the Conventional Wisdom on this in putting a large share of the blame on Vick for holding the ball too long. In viewing this play (off of's highlights, so everyone else can see exactly what I saw), I was surprised to see that he was sacked in UNDER 2 seconds from the snap of the ball, and neither receiver was even close to open. Also, the OL should have been able to pick up the rushers, including the Safety who administered the kill shot.

- Perfect call by Ray Horton and the AZ defense.

- Perfectly stupid call by Andy, Marty and co., for a variety of reasons we'll get into after the jump...



1st things to note, re: offensive and defensive alignments:

  • We are on the RIGHT hash. Single back, Pro Rt, Twins Left.
  • TE (Celek) and Z (Desean) are to the Right. Avant is flexed in the slot, left, with Damaris Jackson split left (X)
  • A DB is walked up to the weak (left) side of the formation, in obvious blitzing position, pre-snap
  • The defensive front is overloaded to our strength



As I said before the jump, there are enough blockers to handle this look. Assuming Celek has the ROLB, who is lined up in a 9 technique (outside the TE), we should have the following matchups:

Herremans -> RDE (#4)

Watkins -> RDT (#3)

Reynolds - LDT (#2)

Mathis - uncovered **

Bell - LDE (#1) and/or FS (#5)

#6 and #7 (2 LBs) are playing at least 3 yards off. They certainly CAN be a threat, but this is supposed to be a quick hitting play. Clearly, #5 is more than a threat. Bell is on shaky ground already. But this can be blocked in either two ways:

A) Bell and Mathis combo on the LDE and FS off the edge. (In other words, since Mathis is uncovered, he would step inside to check on a stunt from the LDT who is head up on the center, then push out to help on an inside move from the LDE to help Bell. Bell steps out to check the edge rush from the LDE, but should also recognize the FS coming free to his outside and at least try to punch him. Ideally, he'd feel help from Mathis and push out to pick up the edge blitzer.

B) Bell and Mathis combo on the LDE and Shady recognizes the FS as MDM (Most Dangerous Man) and scoots over to pick him up. From post game, Vick said he thought that their blocking had accounted for the Safety. Had Shady picked him up, or had the OL, that should have been no problem. 6 rushers, 6 blockers.

There is no 'sight adjustment' here (Avant still runs his flat out). There are ENOUGH BLOCKERS FOR THE RUSHERS.

The clock on the video shows 1:13 when the ball is snapped. Play clock (tv graphic) shows :06 secs.




I'm not being dramatic. Look where the S is, and look at Celek and Desean. Neither of them has gotten off the LoS. Celek tried to take an outside release and got stood up by the S, who can manhandle him because he has an LB behind him in bracket coverage.

The LB is prepared to buzz the slant zone just in case Desean DID get a free release. You can't throw a jump ball there because djax isn't that kind of receiver. But even if this was Plax, only a second has elapsed and you can't even make that throw yet.

Shady has gone to the wrong side (with the other LB shading him). All of this action, mind you, takes place to the short, closed side of the field.

It IS a one-step drop but there are no one-step routes. Celek is locked up and Desean hasn't even taken a single step off the line.

This appears to be a pre-determined, half-field read, because

  • it's a 1-step drop. there's no time to scan primary and then come off to secondary receivers
  • the Eagle's primary RZ threat and most physical receiver on the field (Celek), is aligned there

As mentioned, you can tell the play is doomed with even 1s off the clock. Even if Vick is in his windup for throwing the ball away after 1 second, he will still be sacked and the ball will probably become a pop fly because the blitzing S is in a full out sprint, unabated, off the edge.

Ironically, the blocking up front is pretty solid.

The only thing ANY QB could have done with this set of circumstances would be to check out, pre-snap. But as you saw in the first screenshot, there were only 6 seconds on the play clock at the time of the snap. THAT is also typical of the offensive comedy duo that is Andy and Marty, although, to be sure, this highlight starts right before the snap. Perhaps they were lined up for several seconds and this is the best they could come up with. It's still a dumb playcall and the execution was terrible.



2 seconds from the snap, by either the video clock at the bottom right of the screen. The Safety on Celek is underneath his route and still physically engaged. Celek's head is not even turned back to the QB. Desean is finally off the ball but has Peterson on his back and the LB right in his face. Shady is looking back at the impending trainwreck like "OH S---!!" Again, this is exactly 2 seconds, or slightly under 2 seconds, depending upon whether you're going off of the video playback clock or the TV graphic of the game clock in the upper left corner.

There's not a QB in the NFL who gets that pass off. Especially since, as I pointed out to start with, the Eagles had the numbers up front to deal with the blitz.



Now, 2 seconds have elapsed. Perhaps 2.5, but not 3. Vick is on the ground. The ball is on the ground. Celek's head is turned to the QB now, but he has a man directly in front of him AND an LB right behind him. Desean still has Peterson on his back and is JUST starting to break free. Again, 2 seconds elapsed, both receivers still covered. QB and ball on the ground.

Okay, okay. The Cards are just great on defense. What could we have POSSIBLY done better? (To preempt Andy's ubiquitous resolution to 'do better there').

Here's one alternative:



Run Shady through the 3 hole, right behind Evan Mathis, who is uncovered. Bell takes a pass set, the LDE gets upfield, Shady bursts through the hole for 6.

Oh, wait. That would only work in the alternate universe in which

A) we hadn't squandered a timeout at the beginning of the 2nd QTR, and

B) in which, despite throwing two consecutive incompletions from the goal line, we get to the line with only 6 seconds on the play clock, so Vick has the ability to check to a basic run to the left. And while we're at it,

C) we'd need a universe where Andy and Marty's Eagle scoring values a rushing TD equivalent to a passing TD. I think they were still smarting about McCoy and Vick scoring on the ground versus the Ravens.

Okay, then, since we're in THIS universe, and only a pass will do, what kind of pass would possibly succeed here?

How about this?



  • Don't even bother with the playfake. Send Shady to attack the outside shoulder of the outtermost rusher. That means he'd target the LDE if Bell crapped the bed, but more likely see the blitzing Safety, smack him, and then work to the sideline.
  • That 'Slam' release by Shady should be enough to get Vick around the edge, to the wide side of the field, AND to his dominant hand where he has an effective run/pass option.
  • Avant still pushes upfield, and then breaks on the quick out / flat. The upfield stem (1 or 2 steps) at least sells the possibility of an inside route. If HIS man blitzes, spin and sit down at the goal line.
  • Johnson continues on his quick slant / rub route.
  • IF he gets the edge (which Shady's chip should ensure), Vick just shows the ball on his sprintout left, and has either an easy pitch and catch to Avant, or traipses into the end zone, untouched. AZ 17, Eagles 7, Momentum: Eagles.

I'm getting tired of expecting them to do things that make sense, though.

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