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Eagle Eye In The Sky: Packers Review

Posted Nov 11, 2013

Chip Kelly met the media after Sunday’s win and talked about the team effort he saw in the Eagles’ victory over Green Bay. With the amount of injuries the team sustained early on in the game, the offense, defense and special teams didn’t miss a beat. Most importantly, however, you have to think that Coach Kelly is happiest with the dominance his team demonstrated on the ground, both offensively and defensively.

Let’s start with the latter. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy was coming off a career day against the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football, and with Aaron Rodgers on the sideline everyone knew that Lacy would be the focal point, a role he showed against Chicago he was ready to handle. The Eagles defense, playing with sound technique and relentless effort through the entirety of the game, held him to his lowest rushing output since Week 2. It was a great effort by the defense, and it was on display from the start.

This is the same kind of play I diagrammed in my Packers preview over the weekend, where we will see both guards pulling to the left and the left tackle blocking down. Lacy and the Packers have had success on this play thus far in 2013, getting the rookie to square his shoulders up and get downhill.

At the snap, Najee Goode (No. 53 in the circle) does a great job of getting upfield, getting a piece of the tackle on his way to attacking the pulling guard. Goode’s presence in the backfield already has put a rut in this play for Green Bay.

Next, look at Trent Cole (circled). Cole hasn’t gotten a ton of production in terms of sack numbers, but his play against the run, especially over the last month or so, has been outstanding. Cole does a great job extending here, locking out and setting the edge which funnels Lacy back inside towards his help.

DeMeco Ryans, who without question has been the heart and soul of this defense, is waiting for Lacy in the hole. Ryans pops Lacy and brings him down for a 2-yard loss on first down.

Let’s take a look at another play, this time on second down mid-way through the second quarter.

This is a play Ike Reese broke down on the Post-Game Show last night. You’re going to see a stunt here with Cedric Thornton looping underneath of nose tackle Bennie Logan and into the A-gap. On the outside, you’ll see linebacker Connor Barwin, who has been a stout run defender all season long, locked up on former Penn State tight end Andrew Quarless.

All three players stalemate their man at the line of scrimmage, giving up no ground and leaving running back James Starks nowhere to run with the football. Barwin does a great job setting the edge, and we get great pursuit from Trent Cole and Fletcher Cox on the backside to come in and make the play.

This next play is just a simple toss play to the defense’s left.

Let’s watch the offensive line try to stretch the defense out, with everybody on the run.

The first thing I want you to notice is Clifton Geathers, who is using his length to take on two blockers.

Further inside, rookie nose tackle Damion Square sheds the block of the center, and is in pursuit from the backside of the play.

On the outside, again, we see Connor Barwin setting the edge, attempting to the keep everything inside.

Notice Barwin’s helmet placement here, as he flashes outside the tight end’s right shoulder. Once Lacy sees “color” on the outside, he knows he has to bring it back inside.

Once Lacy brings it back inside, Barwin follows and comes in on the tackle. Square is there to make the play from the backside and Ryans cleans the play up thanks to Geathers, who was able to keep the linebacker clean by taking on two blockers.

We saw a lot of blitzing from Bill Davis’ defense on Sunday, whether it came from inside linebackers scraping to the perimeter or plugging A-gaps, when it was a running situation against Green Bay.

Here’s an example of one of those blitzes. It’s a “Fire X” pressure with Najee Goode attacking the nearside A-Gap and DeMeco Ryans looping over top of him.

The Packers are actually running away from the blitz on this play, but we see a great play from Goode here, as he relentlessly pursues the play from the backside.

On the front side of the play, we see Trent Cole and Fletcher Cox doing a great job holding up against two Green Bay blockers, giving Goode enough time to chase the play down. Goode brings down Lacy for a 3-yard gain on first down.

NINE MINUTES, 32 SECONDS OF PURE JOY

Offensively, there’s a lot I could’ve touched on in this game. Nick Foles threw three touchdown passes. He made throws throughout the game that we saw last week where he looked defenders off and made throws with anticipation to get his receivers open.

Along the offensive line,  Allen Barbre did a very admirable job in relief of Jason Peters, coming up with a key block in pass protection on DeSean Jackson’s long touchdown catch when he picked up a blitzing defensive back late in the play. What I really wanted to hit on, however, was the drive that ended the game. The Eagles offense ran 12 plays (before kneeling down three times) in the final 9:32 to go home with a victory. The offense drained every second off the clock as they ran the ball 11 times when Green Bay knew it was coming. It was a great thing to see and is easily one of the most memorable sequences of this season.

Let’s look at the first play. It’s first-and-10 from the Eagles’ 8-yard line, and the Eagles will be running the staple of their bread-and-butter run play - inside zone.

As we have seen countless times this year, the backside defender is unblocked. Nick Foles read him and gave the ball to McCoy. Rookie Zach Ertz does a great job blocking down on the defensive end, and McCoy runs right off his back hip for 5 yards on first down.

Now there’s 9:22 left and it’s second-and-5 from the 13-yard line. The Eagles come out in 12 personnel again with McCoy in the backfield and two tight ends. This time, right before the snap, Foles motions McCoy from the right side to the left to get a better look in the run game.

Different look, but same play. This will be inside zone once again, this time to the right. This is power football, hat on a hat, with the back finding the hole and picking up yardage to eat up the clock.

Look at the alley the offensive line created here. This wasn’t a read-option play (Brent Celek is taking care of the backside defender here), but it was inside zone all the way and it’s a great job by the offensive line creating the hole for a 6-yard gain and a first down.

On and on we go. There’s 8:40 left in the game and it’s first-and-10 from the 19-yard line. Once again, we get a late motion from McCoy before the snap to flip the play around on Green Bay. It’s inside zone again on this play, this time reading the backside linebacker.

On this play, the offensive line doesn’t get a great push inside, as defensive tackle Mike Daniels flashes inside and beats Todd Herremans. This is where McCoy’s incredible lateral agility and great vision come into play.

McCoy jump cuts to the opposite B-gap, and takes the huge hole created by Evan Mathis and Allen Barbre for 7 yards.

After a 1-yard run on second down, Lane Johnson commits a false start penalty on third-and-2. This brings up third-and-7 with 6:46 left on the clock. A stop here, and Green Bay still has a fighting chance in this game.

The Eagles come out in 11-personnel with McCoy and tight end James Casey, who are set in the backfield as split backs. This will be a double screen play, with the Eagles anticipating pressure.

Pressure comes, and Nick Foles does a great job sucking in the Green Bay defenders as the offensive line gets to the second level for the screen.

Casey brings in the pass, with plenty of room to run to the outside, where his linemen have blocked for him. Just to make it interesting, he brings it inside (blue arrow), into the waiting arms of No. 59 Brad Jones. Thankfully, Casey makes Jones miss, evades a one-armed attempt from Clay Matthews and picks up the necessary 8 yards for the first down.

First-and-10 at the 30-yard line. There’s 6:09 left in the game. It’s time for the Packers to step up and make a stop, but the Eagles go back to “old reliable,” inside zone.

Again, like we saw on the first play of the drive, there’s a great down block by Zach Ertz, and there’s plenty of space for McCoy to make a move. He decides to go right at the unblocked defender, Mike Neal.

McCoy does what he does best, giving Neal a little shake and accelerating past him into the open field. This turns into a 14-yard run, and another first down for Philadelphia.

It’s first-and-10 with 5:23 left in the game. Four minutes have elapsed on the game clock since the Eagles got the ball, and they are just now approaching midfield at their own 44-yard line. Again, we have two tight ends on the field, but this time it’s Bryce Brown in the game. As you can see above, we have both tight ends in a closed formation to the left, with left tackle Allen Barbre lined up on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage in an unbalanced line. The Eagles will this time be running an outside zone run to the right.

As a defender, you never want to play sideline to sideline when the offense is running outside zone, that’s what they want you to do. The offense is trying to stretch you out until a crease opens for the back to stick his foot in the ground and get upfield. As a defender, especially a linebacker, you want to get downhill as soon as you can and meet the runner in the backfield. That’s precisely what Mike Neal does on this play, or at least attempts to ...

Herremans does a great, great job of peeling back to Neal, getting in his way and preventing him from making a play.

Barbre gets a great block on the outside, putting former first-round pick Nick Perry on the ground.

Bryce Brown does a phenomenal job on this play of not only getting to the perimeter, but of staying in bounds along the sideline as he takes the carry for an 8-yard gain.

There’s 4:40 left on the game clock. It’s second-and-2 from the Green Bay 48-yard line. We have the same personnel on the field, and we go back to an inside zone run.

After the snap, Brown has two defenders in his lap. The second-year back finds a way to make one man miss, shrug another off, and power 3 yards for a first down. This was a great effort play by Bryce Brown, and a huge play on the drive.

With 3:58 left in the game, it’s first-and-10, and the Packers now have just one timeout left and the two-minute warning. McCoy is back in the game, and again, we have inside zone. The Packers knew that McCoy would get the football. They knew that inside zone is their go-to play, but still had trouble stopping the Eagles.

Again, we see a great down block from the backside, as Barbre seals off defensive tackle B.J. Raji. McCoy is one-on-one in the hole with Nate Palmer, the unblocked defender on this play, and he does exactly what he’s trained to do. McCoy uses his arm as a weapon, stiff arming Palmer to the ground, then using it to keep his balance as he runs his way for a 9-yard gain.

Now with 3:22 left in the game, it’s second-and-1 from the Green Bay 36-yard line. What will the Eagles run here? You guessed it … inside zone.

We once again saw an unbalanced line on this play, and with left tackle Allen Barbre slotted next to Lane Johnson, we see McCoy take this run right off Barbre’s outside hip for 7 yards and a first down. Notice how far this unblocked defender is from McCoy, he knows Foles has the ability to pull it, and with just 1-yard to go just the slightest hesitation gives McCoy the space needed for a first down.

After a 1-yard gain on first down, the Packers use their final timeout. It’s second-and-9 from the 28-yard line, and there’s 2:18 left on the clock. One more first down, and this game is over. Again, the Eagles run inside zone, and will leave the backside defender unblocked.

McCoy has his crease in the B-gap. The entire Green Bay defense reacts as if McCoy is getting the ball. Unfortunately for them, they were wrong …

Foles tucks it and runs, keeping the ball for a 9-yard gain. First down Eagles, and game over.

We all know that Chip Kelly wants to run the football, and one of the marks of a truly great running team is the ability to run the ball with success when the opponent knows it’s coming. On the other side, for months we’ve heard Kelly talk about the importance of his linebackers to not only rush the passer or play in coverage, but to set the edge in the run game. Sunday’s victory at Lambeau Field put both of those attributes on full display, and were huge reasons the Eagles came away with a “W.”

For a more thorough breakdown of the Eagles upcoming matchup against Washington, be sure to tune into Eagles Game Plan this weekend, and I’ll be back later this week to take a closer look at the Redskins.

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