The Eagles officially announced the hire of Kellen Moore on Monday. I was very glad when it was officially announced because I had spent the previous three days watching a lot of Kellen Moore. I watched so much film, that I will turn the clips I recorded into a series of posts, rather than just one long post. Each one will focus on multiple different aspects of Kellen Moore’s philosophy.
I’ll focus on what he does in the first few posts and then I will look at the strengths and weaknesses of his philosophy in the final post. Enjoy!
Some takeaways from the numbers...
- The Chargers' lack of run game meant Moore couldn’t run play-action anywhere near as much as he had previously.
- Motion has consistently been a big part of his offense.
- He was willing to run into stacked boxes when with the Cowboys but gave up doing this with the Chargers.
- He doesn’t rank that highly in any one metric every year which shows that his philosophy is partly down to his players.
- His gap scheme numbers in the run game have been higher in the past 2 years than they were before this.
- His offenses consistently rank well in no-huddle. Even last year, he ranked 6th in no-huddle success rate which is amazing as it wasn’t a particularly good offense.
- He ran a lot more under-center with the Cowboys than he did with the Chargers.
There is also a fantastic interview on the Chargers website from last year, where Kellen Moore spoke about his vision for the offense. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“From an offensive perspective, you take bits and pieces from everyone, and I think that’s the beauty of it,” Moore said. “We’re going to build a 2023 L.A. Chargers offense.
“Will you be able to see the Air Coryell, Jason Garrett side? Absolutely. Will you see the West Coast, Mike McCarthy side? Absolutely,” Moore added. “We’ll keep things that are in place here that Justin [Herbert] feels really, really good about.”
“There’s a balancing act in the run game, groove calls and calls that you can kind of hang your hat on, while also being diverse enough to make adjustments throughout a game and depending on a defense’s looks,” Moore added. “You have to be able to make adjustments throughout a game and find the things that work best for you week-in and week-out.”
“I’m just really excited to get to work with them,” Moore said. “I think the beauty of football and the beauty of the system is that you want to build it around the players. I’m excited to figure out what they do best, how they’re wired, how they work and put them in the best situation to be successful. Whatever that system ultimately looks like, we’ll build it together.”
Then my favorite quote...
Our whole goal from an outside perspective is to make it look as confusing as possible. And at the end of the day, it’s pretty simple for us. It’s a lot of the same concepts, it’s a lot of ways of doing the same things.
I think that philosophy fits what Nick Sirianni wants to do on offense too. It seems pretty obvious to me that Kellen Moore does have a system, but he is going to adapt that system to the players he has available to him. Let’s get into some of the key areas of his system. Brett Kollmann described Kellen Moore as ‘aggressive and adaptable’ and I would agree with him.
If you know me by now, you know where I am going to start...
I think Kellen Moore’s run game is a huge, huge part of his offense. I can’t quite believe some of the stuff I read about his apparent lack of a run game. It is ridiculous. I think the single biggest difference between his Cowboys’ offense and Chargers’ offense is that his Cowboys’ run game was successful.
The really interesting thing is that his run game is very different from the Eagles’ run game. Kellen Moore’s run game has a lot of Shanahan influences in it. The standard run play is under center outside zone, which is something we have not seen a lot with the Eagles of late. This allows him to open up his offense and run some play-action naked bootlegs too, which we will get to later.
Let’s get to the standard run play. Shanahan style. The Cowboys were not afraid to just line up in heavy personnel and run it down the heart of the defense. If the defense wanted to play nickel or light boxes, the Cowboys were going to run it. This was an aggressive ‘smashmouth’ style run game.
Right, it's time to talk about some run game. I can't go further without talking about under center outside zone. Shanahan style! This is the bread and butter of the Moore offense. Dallas ran it so well and it allowed them to open up the playbook. The Cowboys will go 12/13… pic.twitter.com/hET2cNbuW1— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
What was I saying about smashmouth? 22 personnel with a WR coming into block as well? Sign me up. The Eagles didn’t run a lot of under center outside zone last year because they wanted the run game to be based around the shotgun because that enables the quarterback to be a major part of any run play by reading the defensive end. The Eagles just did not run from under center. Kellen Moore’s offenses the past 3 years rank 24th, 27th, and 22nd in shotgun rate. He wants to use under center and the Eagles will have to adapt to this if they want to run his offense.
Outside zone from 22 personnel as well as bringing the WR down to block? Sign me up. Moore runs an aggressive run it downhill style which is why I think he struggled in LA as they lacked this aggressive presence. He wants to assert dominance with the running game early. This is… pic.twitter.com/yi9dzr02BF— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
Jason Kelce... time to announce you are coming back?! I saw quite a lot of pin/pull too which isn’t a surprise with so much outside zone run.
There's a lot of pin/pull outside zone too, so Stoutland will be happy! Going to be interesting to see Stoutland & Moore work together and build this Eagles run game. The Cowboys run game was outstanding. pic.twitter.com/le0uWnig6W— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
This is just a minor point but I noticed that the Cowboys ran to the Nub TE side quite a lot, so keep an eye out for this.
He loves running to a 'Nub' TE (a TE opposite trips) which spreads the defense out and can force a corner into the run fit. I expect the Eagles run game to vary a lot depending on the opponent. pic.twitter.com/HCofSkYQgO— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
Now if you have read everything so far and worried about the Eagles’ run game drastically changing, I wouldn’t panic. It will change, I do not doubt that. But I think Kellen Moore has proved that he can fit into the Eagles' current philosophy around running the ball as well. He ran a lot less gap scheme the past few years than the Eagles did, but I don’t think the Eagles are just going to stop running counter or QB counter bash anytime soon.
I saw some counter read too, so I would expect them to develop this further and run some QB counter bash. Dak is mobile but he's not as mobile as Hurts. I didn't see much gap scheme though, it will be interesting to see how much say Stoutland has next year. pic.twitter.com/t8mCCmMY0u— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
If you are worried about whether Moore will utilize Jalen Hurts in the run game, I wouldn’t panic. I didn’t see much QB run game with Herbert which is slightly surprising, but I did see some concepts that took advantage of Dak’s mobility. This is the kind of play that gets me excited. Dak and Herbert are both mobile, but they aren’t Jalen Hurts. I know that Moore wants to adapt to his scheme to his players, and I think he will have fun in the run game with Hurts at quarterback. I’m sure there will be some struggles at times, but I think blending Moore’s under center run game with the Eagles' shotgun QB run game will be exciting.
I think the run game is going to be awesome next year. Moore's offense needs to focus on outside zone to really work, but there's some creativity too. I was really glad to see some runs that took advantage of Dak's mobility, and I think he will utilize Hurts' mobility like… pic.twitter.com/dnng94DCXQ— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
You can see the Eagles running this next year, can’t you? This is what I mean by Moore’s run game being really diverse. You have the 22 personnel under center smashmouth stuff and then the spread offense stuff like this. It’s a really cool run game and it sums up Moore’s philosophy in general. He is willing to adapt to his players.
What I really like about Moore's offense is the multiplicity of the run game. There's a lot of condensed 12/13 aggressive run game, but there's also times where he will spread the defense out and try to create space inside. It's a much more multiple offense than the Eagles ran… pic.twitter.com/IdDcZzxIik— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
Play-action Naked Bootleg
I’ve banged on about the under center run game because it leads to this. This may look so simple, but it’s just something that’s not been a part of the Eagles’ offense the past few years. You can’t do the naked bootleg stuff if you can’t run from under center. This may not seem revolutionary, but you will see teams every week in the NFL having success from running PA naked bootleg because it’s so difficult to stop if you can run the ball effectively.
It seems so easy, but if you can run the ball from under center then you will force the defense to be over-aggressive and start biting on play action. This is old-school Shanahan stuff and you can see it over and over again when watching the Cowboys’ offense. However, you just don’t see it as much with the Chargers’ offense because the Chargers could not get the running game going. This style relies on a strong run game.
I've banged on about outside zone and under center a lot because it allows the Cowboys to do this. I saw WAY more PA naked bootleg than I expected. Moore has a lot of Shanahan principles in his offense that I wasn't expecting. This is why the outside zone run game is vital to… pic.twitter.com/25gaFgBmFf— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
Jalen Hurts has never really played from under center, but I think he is going to have to learn. I don’t expect the Eagles to just abandon the shotgun, but I don’t get the idea behind hiring Moore unless they are going to introduce some under center to this offense. I assume the hiring was based on Moore’s work with the Cowboys, and not the Chargers, and I expect to see a fair bit of under center PA next year.
The Eagles and Hurts are absolutely going to have to get used to more under center next year. It's a huge part of this offense because you can run plays like this. If the Eagles wanted to get some more Shanahan looks into this offense then I understand the hiring of Moore. pic.twitter.com/v76dKnTS6b— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
I’ve already gotten into a lot in this article, but I can’t finish part 1 without talking about motion. Motion is a bit of a buzzword at the moment and everyone just assumes that all motion is good. That’s just not true. But motion can obviously be a really important tool for an offense to use. The Eagles just did not use motion last year at all. It wasn’t a part of the offense. When they did use it, I referred to it as ‘token’ motion as it felt like they were doing it just for the sake of doing it. I didn’t see a real plan behind it. Kellen Moore has ranked in the top 15 in motion rate the past 3 years and he is also successful when running it. Last year, the Chargers ranked 6th in success rate when using motion, despite not being a very good offense overall.
The Cowboys used motion to take advantage of man coverage and also stress the defense horizontally, as you can see here in the red zone.
Motion in the red zone is an easy way of beating tight man coverage too. This is simple but so effective against man coverage. Moore's Dallas offense was really good in the red zone and I think you see a lot of Moore's creativity come in these situations. pic.twitter.com/HcXo5yXfcR— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
Moore ran this exact play with the Cowboys, which is why I love the design of the next play so much.
This was my favorite play I saw on film. The Cowboys used motion effectively in the red zone (and had the number 1 offense in the red zone in 2022 which dropped to 12th last year without Kellen Moore) and this is a beauty. The Cowboys know that the Lions are going to pass off the routes rather than stay in man coverage as the defense did in the clip above. So the Cowboys run the tight end to the opposite side that the motion is heading. This means that the defensive back has to change direction when running with the motion which is nearly impossible. This is just simple, but great game planning.
Motion is also a great way of getting the ball out quickly, and Moore's offense uses a lot of motion in the pass game. This is beautiful. The RB motion forces the right CB to cover the back and the left CB has to redirect after coming across the formation. You can bet Moore saw… pic.twitter.com/OMhfwGwZg8— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
The Cowboys also love to run motion to give their receivers a chance to get off the line of scrimmage and avoid press coverage. It’s sound simple, but the Eagles just didn’t do this! It creates a huge stress on the defensive horizontally and this enables some space to open up in the middle of the field. The Cowboys' offense under Moore loved to run motion to stress the defense horizontally and then throw deep posts or slants in the middle of the field to take advantage of the space created. A lot of the throw doesn’t even go to the receiver in motion, but that’s fine.
Moore uses motion to really stress the defense horizontally. He creates a lot of space in the middle of the field with fly motion in order to spread the defense out. There are loads of examples on film like this. pic.twitter.com/LFMwUA8MUL— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
I won’t lie and say that Moore is great at designing screens, because he wasn’t. I didn’t see a lot of successful screens run in the games that I watched. But here is a nice example of how motion can also create misdirection and benefit the screen game. I wouldn’t expect the Eagles’ screen game to dramatically improve next season though.
Motion is also used a lot to try and create distractions for RB/WR screens. I don't think Moore does anything 'complicated' but he tries to dress up easy looking plays in a huge variety of ways. This screen is effective because it looks like a naked PA bootleg which Moore loves… pic.twitter.com/3ntqqMhaSi— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
This is a very similar call to the one above that I was talking about. Using motion to get your best receiver running at full speed before the snap of the ball just feels like a cheat code that the Eagles weren’t taking advantage of last year. I think the Bengals bust the coverage, but that’s another reason why motion can be so useful. Just look at the Vic Fangio defense and how you have to have a call for every single coverage. It’s pretty simple analysis, but it can be harder to figure out your coverage rules when the picture is changing on offense at the last minute. The offense can just flip the passing strength a second before the snap and that changes everything on defense. It’s a weapon that is too valuable to ignore.
Doesn't get any better than this. Not quite sure about the Bengals coverage here, and I'm guessing the late motion causes them issues lining up, but Lamb ends up always at full speed off the snap and running a post vs. a defensive back with outside leverage. Moore loves stressing… pic.twitter.com/Tam0naOAcN— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
Different team, different play, same idea and the same result. I love it.
Different look but same result. The motion causes a change in defensive coverage and the post vs. outside leverage is open once again. Also gotta point out Moore has had two very good QBs who are willing to be aggressive and throw these post routes. pic.twitter.com/yZKhJwDqVL— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
I also saw this on film a few times. Talk about messing with defenses checks and making them make decisions on the fly. You can tell that a big part of Moore’s philosophy is trying to confuse defenses and make them think. This is the exact opposite to the Eagles’ approach from last year where there was an arrogance that the play would work, even if you knew what was coming.
Speaking of shifts... Moore will also just occasionally change formation to try and create confusion/get a favourable look. I saw this a couple of times and it's just something else for defenses to prepare for. As I've repeatedly said, it's the basics dressed up in different… pic.twitter.com/UcvoMmNxlP— Jonny Page (@JonnyPage9) February 5, 2024
I was tempted to save motion for part 2 but... I couldn’t leave you guys hanging. If you want even more detail, you can check out the latest BGN Radio podcast I did with Shane where we talk about the topics mentioned in this article.
As always, feedback is appreciated and I’ll be back soon with part 2!