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Kellen Moore can help the Eagles improve against the blitz

Part 2 of BGN’s deep dive on Philadelphia’s new offensive coordinator.

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ric Tapia/Getty Images

As I said in the last Kellen Moore post, I have watched so much film on the new Eagles offensive coordinator that I will turn all the clips I recorded into a series of posts, rather than just one long article. Each one will focus on multiple different aspects of Kellen Moore’s philosophy. If you haven’t checked out last week’s post then please read that before this one!

Part 1: Run Game, PA Naked Bootleg and Motion

Last time I spoke a lot about tendencies, we looked at various numbers. We will talk film this week and look at three areas that stood out to me when watching Kellen Moore’s pass game. There is only one place to start...

Handling the Blitz

The Eagles’ season collapsed because they couldn’t handle the blitz. It is quite incredible just how bad they were against pressure last year. If you were to take away the blitz, the Eagles’ offense was perfectly fine. It ruined the Eagles’ season and certainly frustrated the hell out of all the players.

You can argue that the Eagles' biggest priority was picking a new offensive coordinator who could plan for the blitz. Well, I have good news. Kellen Moore’s film against the blitz is very promising in the games that I watched. And the stats back me up.

So, what does Kellen Moore do against the blitz? I am sorry to disappoint but, he doesn’t do anything radical. I think his teams are very well coached and they do the basics right over and over again. If you are expecting to read about a brand new revolutionary offensive approach against the blitz that will blow your minds, then I sadly can’t give you what you want. But I can show you what a good coaching staff can do to prepare a team to face pressure.

In very simple terms, Kellen Moore’s teams are well-coached to have a number of hot routes or built-in answers to pressure. If you are a proper scheme nerd like me, please have a look over some of the plays in the Cowboys' 2021 playbook which proves that Moore is focused on handling pressure.

I won’t bore you with the specifics, but nearly every play looks like the one above. You will frequently see the words ‘Hot Built-In’ or ‘Bandit Build-In’ (Bandit is a sight adjustment telling the receiver to adjust their route and get open quickly if an extra blitzer comes from that side). If you want to get better against the blitz, you have to spend a lot of time preparing for it throughout the off-season. You need to have answers on every single play to a lot of pressure. It takes time. It takes preparation. It takes attention to detail. You can see the answers on film.

Firstly, this type of play is what you see a lot on film. You can see that the quarterback and his receivers are on the same page. Moore’s offenses didn’t try and take deep shots against pressure like the Eagles attempted to do. They just kept the chains moving by throwing into the area that was vacated by the blitzer. Football can be simple sometimes, can’t it?

The other thing you can do is design plays that give you an insight into what the defense might be doing by using shifts and motion. The Chargers here use shifts pre-snap to identify the zone pressure look and Herbert throws into the side bringing the overload. Also, Moore’s offenses were not afraid to leave backs and tight ends into block if needed. The Eagles have struggled with their running backs in pass protection the past couple of seasons and this is an area that they need to address.

You can see a theme, can’t you? Simple throws, where the quarterback and receivers are on the same page. It looks easy, but this stuff takes a lot of preparation.

Everyone can get a little too obsessed with hot routes, and the reality is that sometimes building an offense with a variety of routes at different depths can provide a lot of answers against pressure. The key is giving the quarterback just enough time, which means no free rushers! Even when the Eagles designed plays against pressure last year, they just couldn’t hold up in pass protection as they were outnumbered.

Quads/Trips Formations

One of the biggest things I noticed from Kellen Moore’s offenses was the use of quads and trips. Get ready to see a lot of formations next year that isolate one side of the field. AJ Brown is going to love this offense. He’s going to be isolated a lot and moved around the formation a lot. CeeDee Lamb is a superstar, and I think Kellen Moore is going to try to isolate AJ Brown like he did with Lamb.

I love seeing the use of quads formations and ‘fast 4’ but the reality is that this stuff only works if you have a receiver that can win these one-on-one matchups. AJ Brown can win one-on-one matchups.

This stuff happened a lot in the film I watched. A lot. If Jalen Hurts really ‘can’t throw it to the middle of the field’ like some people believe then we will find out this year.

It turns out that Kellen Moore’s been doing this for a few years too...

If you want to get really excited, Kellen Moore has also lined up offensive linemen in trips to run screen plays. Jordan Mailata blocking out in space? Sign. Me. Up.

Vertical Shots

Listen, you didn’t really think the Eagles were going to hire an offensive mind who didn’t want to push the ball down the field, did you? I know some of you are fed up with an approach that focuses on explosive plays, but we all know that explosive plays are vital for an offense to succeed. The issue with the Eagles last year was that many plays felt like it was explosive play or bust because they would be vertical shots to a covered receiver, and we would simply hope that the star receiver would come down with the football. Moore’s offense is not like that.

Moore uses several different formations to try and create explosive plays. His Cowboys’ offenses were not afraid to take a lot of vertical shots. They did it in a slightly different way to the Eagles last year though. The Eagles would use isolation routes on the outside to throw go routes to take advantage of one-on-one matchups. The Cowboys and Chargers used more concepts such as Mills, Post-Cross, or Double-Post Cross like below to try and get players open. This worked so much better with the Cowboys because they could use the run game to get a defense to be aggressive against them. Please, go and read the 1st article I’ve written on Moore because I go into a lot of detail on why the key part of his offense is the run game.

The Cowboys line up below with 12 personnel and pistol so the defense is thinking run.

This is a beauty. The plays are often well designed and you can see that there is a built-in answer to pressure if the defense blitzes. When I think of the Eagles going vertical the past couple of years, I think of go routes and 50/50 throws. I didn’t see that from Kellen Moore’s offenses, but as always, this could be down to personnel. I saw a lot of deep crossing routes and posts, rather than straight-go routes, to create explosive plays. These double post concepts are really good against the amount of split-safety coverages we are seeing currently. Note the late shift and position of the receiver here to create outside leverage from the cornerback... we spoke about this at length last week!

That’s all for this one. Next time up, we will look at a few more features of Moore’s philosophy and I’ll also summarize my personal opinion on the hire in terms of positives and negatives.

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