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Eagles’ red zone passing concepts remain superb

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Wentz found Goedert on a call we’ve seen before...

James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles have continued their success in the most important area of the field, the red zone. Last year they ranked tops in the league in converting trips to the red area into touchdowns (64%). This year they’re punching it in at an uber-efficient 70%.

You can point to a positive regression to red zone running, which would be true. Wendell Smallwood’s 4-yard touchdown makes the Eagles 3 for 5 when turning runs from within 5 yards of the end zone into scores. You could also point to Carson Wentz’s return, who connected with Dallas Goedert for a 13-yard touchdown on the opening drive using a design that looked very familiar.

Last year in Week 12, the Eagles beat the Chicago Bears with a variation on the “spot” concept. First, what is a spot?

Bleacher Report NFL 101

From the Inside the Pylon glossary:

“The spot concept is a common pass game scheme run from the high school level up to the NFL. It is known for its simplicity and ability to create both a horizontal and vertical stretch. Spot is a half field “triangle” read, and features a flat route as a horizontal stretch, a deep corner as a vertical stretch, and the quick hitch route coming underneath at about 5 yards and settling in an open zone coverage.”

Reading the initial action of the play, Bears’ safety Adrian Amos banked on the corner route, which tight end Zach Ertz sells by stemming outside. But instead of running the corner, Ertz ran what the Eagles call a “copper route”. This is a corner-post or as it’s known in the “Air Coryell” system design by former Chargers’ head coach Don Coryell, a “bang-8”.

Combined with a familiar route combination that every defensive back has seen hundreds of times, the bang-8/copper route can be deadly.

If it worked once, why not dial it up again? In Week 3 in their 20-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts, that’s exactly what the Eagles did. Exclusively utilizing 13 personnel (1 running back, 3 tight ends) paired with a busy tempo, they marched down to the Colts’ 13-yard line. On 2nd and 9, Wentz found Goedert on the same spot copper he found Ertz with months ago.

The Eagles have a full bag of tricks with a bevy of new takes on old designs and dialing them up at the right time and in the red zone remains Doug Pederson’s specialty. With Wentz back and one game in the books during his return tour, expect more new and old wrinkles with the Eagles’ passing attack when they get within striking distance.