Sorry, I'll get my "I Told You So" out here.
Anyway, with that out of the way, let's look at one of the key plays in the game as evidence of why I said in that previous post that Shady could very well end up averaging from 5.5 to 6.0 ypc this year, and that the Eagles will lead the league in rushing and have a Top 10 (and probably Top 5) Offense. Full disclosure, it is extremely premature, however, there are only so many ways to play defense, and I'll show you how the combination of talent and scheme and formation come together to put defenses in a bind.
One of Chip Kelly's stated aims is to use formation and play design to create a mathematical advantage that can then be exploited by his players, as his plays give them options to take advantage of what the defense does while maximizing their unique talents. In other words, as someone else used to say around here, 'putting guys in position to succeed'. He actually does it, though...
Eagles are 11 personnel: 3WRs, 1TE, 1RB. The down is 2nd and 14. R*dskins are in that DEEP cover 2 that they have played against the Eagles once they learned what Vick could do to them with a clean pocket. Desean is split out to the right, at the Z. Celek is the Y (TE). Cooper is the X (split left) and Avant is in the near slot, left. It is 2nd & 14. CBs are playing off with about 7 yards cushion.
Here's what would have happened in Andy ball. Perfunctory play action fake (Shady might have had 4 carries so far in the game under Reid), and Vick would have tried to hit Desean on a go route on the outside. And Maclin (Cooper) would have run a shallow cross around 2 yds deep, and Avant may have run a dig at 12 to 15. Celek might chip, and release into an out at about 4yds. Note the CB (nickel) in the near slot. As I've mentioned umpteen times before, the big difference in pre-Vikes 2010 Vick (really, pre-NYG) and everything else since then was that teams rediscovered secondary pressure as a tactic against him, Andy and Marty. A fast DB off the edge is much tougher for Vick to elude than a DE or LB, and often it was the Nickel or Safeties who were putting huge hits on MV.
Fast forward to 2013. From the above count the men in the box (I've numbered them for you, there are 6. The Eagles have 6 blockers, plus Vick and Shady. That's a 7 on 6 advantage. +1 for the O.
At the snap, Celek (TE on right) steps to secure the edge. Herremans, next to him, steps laterally. Shady's alignment and angle looks for all the world like OZR (Outside Zone Read), which the Eagles have already run earlier.
The safeties are way deep and no immediate factor in the run game, as they are trying to keep any receivers from getting over the top. The NB is blitzing off the left edge, with bad intentions toward Vick.
This is a twist on the 'scrape exchange' that everyone said was the surefire way to stop the zone read option. This also shows that the Eagles don't have to leave someone unblocked. But as the play develops, you can see how the math favors PHI. Each Eagles blocker has a hat on a defender (Mathis gets up to the second level to occupy Fletcher), and Celek and Herremans are in position to double team #4 up to #5. (I forgot to number the sixth guy, who Kelce is blocking.
Notice the flow of the play, still looking for all the world like an OZR. In fact, this would be a great OZR, as Celek has the edge (reach block on his defender, Herreman's taking him over, freeing Brent to get up to the scraping backer). Also crazy is that at the point of the mesh between Vick and Shady (ball hasn't been handed off yet), the Safeties are flowing downhill. It's gonna be difficult for them to transition from keeping a lid on Desean to coming up and getting run fits.
Eagles blocking is still hat on hat and no one has been abused. In fact, that's about the only thing I can see which will allow teams to consistently shut down the run-- win MULTIPLE individual matchups along the DL. (Shady can make at least one unblocked defender miss at any given time).
Note Vick's effect here, though. The blitzing NB has contain and the DE (or OLB, didn't pay attention to the number) over JP is fighting to keep his outside shoulder free, meaning, despite being blocked, he is containing, too.
The blitz gave the DEF an extra man, so the Eagles +1 advantage is now even up. However, that man is allocated to Vick, so the Eagles are back to +1, numerically.
Are we having fun yet? Handoff has been made and the 2 circled defenders are accounting for Vick. This goes back to a comment Shady made during the preseason after the announcement was made that Vick was the starter. He said they sit in amazement at film (from 1st 2 preseason games) and see that teams are having 2 guys watching Vick on a given play. The inference, of course, is that there are less to account for him.
We see this in action here. The square is showing Herremans and Celek still in a good relationship to double up to the scraping LB. The triangle is like one of those hurricane vectors. I think this is how Eagles run plays are drawn up in Chip's playbook, because you'll need the NOAA's weather computers to figure out where the hell Shady is gonna go on any given play. He has the ability and vision to take the run ANYWHERE within that area.
At this point in the play, he can stay strongside, OZR, and get 5 or 6 yards around the corner, assuming Celek gets up to the LB. He could dip in behind Mathis, like most backs would, and, with good burst and lean, get 6-8 yards up the middle before the safety gets him. NOPE. This is Shady...
Lesean has the vision, creativity, and nuts to look at this and think, "hmm. Not enough."
Burst through the hole, jump cut to his left let Avant (who can't get to the playside safety in time) get in front of him to block the backside safety (great cut block in open field), and then run up in the alley created between Avant and Cooper's great block on the corner on the outside.
With a 'normal' back, plus Vick holding the backside defenders, that should have been a 6 to 8 yard play. With Shady, you never know how far it's gonna go.
How do you defend it? Bring a Safety down into the box and play single high. Oh wait... that's what the PATs did during PS, and Vick and DJax recognized it and converted a Go route for an easy and quick 6 pts, because there is no safety in the league who can close on the fade from the deep middle to the outside before Desean gets into scoring position.
The net results of all of this, and, again, I know it's premature. But I predicted this offense has a chance to go Top 5 in OFF, and lead the league in rushing, and average > 5 yards per carry, with Shady at 5.5 - 6.0.
As it stands after tonight?
- #1 in rushing
- #5 yards
- #5 points (with the turnovers and everything).
- Shady 5.9 ypc.
- Vick 6.0 ypc.
- Brown's average didn't stay up, but he had some nice runs in relief, and he's gonna be a danger when teams are gassed in 3rd and 4th quarters and the Eagles start putting teams away.
More importantly, Eagles 1-0.
For more on WHY putting these guys in space works, check this post that I made at the beginning of last season which is stating that we need an offense that is almost exactly like one of the base formations and schemes that the Eagles use: click here.