Philadelphia Eagles News

Eagle Eye: How The Offense Took Flight Against Miami

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Carson Wentz and the rest of the starters didn't play quite as long as many thought going into Thursday night's game, but that didn't mean we didn't get to see some fireworks in the win over the Dolphins. It all started on the opening drive with this 50-yard bomb to Torrey Smith. I could break the play down, but I'll let the quarterback-wide receiver duo do the work for me.

How'd that 50-yard TD happen? @cj_wentz and @TorreySmithWR tell the story. #FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/6kwhcl81w4 — Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 25, 2017

On that side of the field, Miami was in quarters coverage. This means that cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Reshad Jones were each responsible for the deep part of the field in their respective areas. That being said, as Smith mentioned in the clip above, the safety is going to make the No. 2 receiver a priority once he reaches a certain depth downfield. Maxwell, thinking he has safety help, allowed an inside release, but ends up getting torched over the top by the speedy Smith. This was a great "quarters beater," a passing concept designed to beat that exact coverage, and play call by Doug Pederson in that situation.

Shot 2 - Great pass-off by Jason Peters and Isaac Seumalo on the E/T Stunt. Helps keep Wentz's blindside clean #Eagles pic.twitter.com/yX3AQw6yfD — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 25, 2017

When you see the play from the end zone angle, keep your eyes on the offensive line. The Dolphins run what is called an E-T stunt, meaning the end penetrates first, followed by a looping Tackle. Jason Peters and Isaac Seumalo executed a perfect pass-off here to protect Wentz's blind side and keep him upright. On the other side, Lane Johnson faced a bull rush from one of the most powerful pass rushers in the league in Cameron Wake. He gave up ground, but Johnson reset his anchor and stayed upright as well to keep Wentz clean and let him deliver this throw to Smith downfield.

Tight end Zach Ertz was heavily involved in the passing game, catching three passes for 44 yards over three drives. With Jordan Matthews' departure a couple of weeks ago, I believe we will see an uptick for Ertz in terms of his involvement in this offense, and it played out that way Thursday night. Here are all three of his catches.

Shot 3 - Zach Ertz caught 3 passes last night for 44 yards in 4 possessions. Sign of things to come? #Eagles pic.twitter.com/geZ8H8OrHf — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 25, 2017

Ertz's first catch came on a bang post route, where he lined up as the X-iso receiver and beat Maxwell inside with a quick move at the top of the route. The athletic tight end finished at the catch point with a diving grab away from his frame.

Shot 4 - Wentz gets tripped up on the exchange but stays poised and finds Ertz, who picks up YAC for a first down #Eagles pic.twitter.com/qUfhaMuZ1L — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 25, 2017

His next catch came off of a great play by Wentz, who got his foot stepped on as he attempted to drop back from under center. The quarterback tripped, but stayed level-headed, understanding where his receivers were going to be, and dumped this pass off to Ertz in the flat. His tight end made the first man miss and ran for extra yardage, moving the chains for a first down.

Shot 5 - This is a pass-game staple; a simple high-low read vs the LB. Run at him with the slot WR to hold his eyes, run the TE behind him! pic.twitter.com/ZWEqLmC2iK — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 25, 2017

Ertz's final catch came on a staple of the West Coast offense, a basic high-low concept attacking a linebacker in the middle of the field. One of the best ways to hold a linebacker is to run a receiver right at him, diverting his attention to any routes you may run behind him. This keeps the defender out of the passing lane, opening up space for your intended target. Nelson Agholor basically stepped on the defender's toes here, holding him in place on the hash mark. This allowed Ertz to sneak in behind the linebacker for Wentz to hit him for a first down.

High-low reads are prevalent in every NFL offense. One of the Eagles' favorite high-low reads is the dagger concept, which happens to be one of my favorite plays in football.

Shot 6 - The other effective high-low read in #Eagles O is the 'Dagger'. Especially off PA. Nelson stretches field. Great route by Alshon. pic.twitter.com/Yd1hCXCP39 — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 25, 2017

Agholor stretched the field vertically from the slot position to take the safeties away. There is typically a route underneath, close to the line of scrimmage, to help take any linebackers out of the play. The play is especially effective off of play-action, which the Eagles used here with LeGarrette Blount. When you suck the linebackers up toward the run, they have to scramble a little bit and may not feel the dig route, run by Jeffery, coming behind them. Alshon ran a great route on the outside, pressing vertically, and selling the go route before breaking hard inside on the dig route. He finished with a diving catch for a first down. This is a staple of the Eagles' passing game. It was Jeffery's first catch of the night, but it wouldn't be his last.

Three plays after that catch by Jeffery, Blount would get his biggest carry of the night, a 16-yard run that drew plenty of attention from the fans in the stands.

Shot 7 - Great movement by Kelce / Seumalo on playside double and Lane / Brooks on backside. Look at Slant-Bubble concept outside as well! pic.twitter.com/J8q1W0hlQg — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 25, 2017

This is a basic inside zone run with Blount, but watch how well the Eagles' offensive line created room for him to work. It all started with Jason Kelce and Isaac Seumalo on the play side. They pushed the nose tackle up to the second level, and as Seumalo sifted up to the linebacker, Kelce walled off the defensive tackle to create a lane for Blount. The backside double team of Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks generated great movement as well, helping Blount bust this one loose.

Don't just finish with the end zone angle of the play though. Take note of what happened on the outside, where Nelson Agholor ran a bubble route and Jeffery a slant. If you've seen the highlights from the game, this may look familiar because we see it again on the very next snap.

Shot 8 - Next play, similar concept. Wentz pumps Bubble, resets feet & makes 2nd-window throw around a dropping DE for TD. Big-time #Eagles pic.twitter.com/di6JJae0jr — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 25, 2017

It's another "packaged play" concept from the Eagles. Blount and the offensive line execute a running play in the box, but there's the same bubble slant combination to Wentz's right. Before the ball is snapped, Wentz decides whether he's going to hand this off or throw the ball to the perimeter based off what he sees defensively. He liked the numbers to the field, and that's when the magic happens.

Wentz took the snap and subtly pump faked to the bubble. The second-level defenders from Miami reacted to Wentz's fake and jumped the route by Agholor in the flat. Both the corner and the safety are out of position, and Wentz should be able to easily hit Jeffery for a touchdown, right? Wrong.

If Wentz pulled the trigger after the fake, he probably throws this ball right into Cameron Wake's chest for a red zone interception. The Dolphins blitzed from the opposite side, and they dropped the defensive end right into the passing lane. Wentz hung tough in the pocket, throwing another subtle shoulder fake outside to maneuver Wake underneath. He delivered a second-window throw (meaning he had to wait for the second passing lane to open up) to Jeffery for a touchdown.

The Eagles put together two very similar play concepts back to back to finish a 93-yard touchdown drive. Wentz's savvy and quality decision-making helped put the ball across the goal line.

The offensive line protection wasn't always perfect, but you also have to give a tip of the cap to Miami's personnel as well as its scheme. This third-down sack on the second series was a perfect example of just that.

Shot 9 - Lone time Wentz was sacked. GREAT Double A-Gap blitz design by Miami. Kelce & Seumalo get caught up; Smallwood beaten by Timmons pic.twitter.com/ArObunFJqr — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) August 25, 2017

It's third-and-4, and the Dolphins come out in a double A-gap pressure look, with two linebackers standing up right in front of Jason Kelce and a potential third blitzer to the left off the edge. With seven potential blitzers and only six blockers in to protect (Ertz will release on a route), the Eagles have to block this up right.

If you caught our [preview of the Vikings game last year](Carson Wentz and the rest of the starters didn't play quite as long as many thought going into Thursday night's game, but that didn't mean we didn't get to see some fireworks in the win over the Dolphins. It all started on the opening drive with this 50-yard bomb to Torrey Smith. I could break the play down, but I'll let the quarterback-wide receiver duo do the work for me. SHOT 1 (@Eagles tweet) On that side of the field, Miami was in quarters coverage. This means that cornerback Byron Maxwell and safety Reshad Jones were each responsible for the deep part of the field in their respective areas. That being said, as Smith mentioned in the clip above, the safety is going to make the No. 2 receiver a priority once he reaches a certain depth downfield. Maxwell, thinking he has safety help, allowed an inside release, but ends up getting torched over the top by the speedy Smith. This was a great "quarters beater," a passing concept designed to beat that exact coverage, and play call by Doug Pederson in that situation. SHOT 2 When you see the play from the end zone angle, keep your eyes on the offensive line. The Dolphins run what is called an E-T stunt, meaning the end penetrates first, followed by a looping Tackle. Jason Peters and Isaac Seumalo executed a perfect pass-off here to protect Wentz's blind side and keep him upright. On the other side, Lane Johnson faced a bull rush from one of the most powerful pass rushers in the league in Cameron Wake. He gave up ground, but Johnson reset his anchor and stayed upright as well to keep Wentz clean and let him deliver this throw to Smith downfield. Tight end Zach Ertz was heavily involved in the passing game, catching three passes for 44 yards over three drives. With Jordan Matthews' departure a couple of weeks ago, I believe we will see an uptick for Ertz in terms of his involvement in this offense, and it played out that way Thursday night. Here are all three of his catches. SHOT 3 Ertz's first catch came on a bang post route, where he lined up as the X-iso receiver and beat Maxwell inside with a quick move at the top of the route. The athletic tight end finished at the catch point with a diving grab away from his frame. SHOT 4 His next catch came off of a great play by Wentz, who got his foot stepped on as he attempted to drop back from under center. The quarterback tripped, but stayed level-headed, understanding where his receivers were going to be, and dumped this pass off to Ertz in the flat. His tight end made the first man miss and ran for extra yardage, moving the chains for a first down. SHOT 5 Ertz's final catch came on a staple of the West Coast offense, a basic high-low concept attacking a linebacker in the middle of the field. One of the best ways to hold a linebacker is to run a receiver right at him, diverting his attention to any routes you may run behind him. This keeps the defender out of the passing lane, opening up space for your intended target. Nelson Agholor basically stepped on the defender's toes here, holding him in place on the hash mark. This allowed Ertz to sneak in behind the linebacker for Wentz to hit him for a first down. High-low reads are prevalent in every NFL offense. One of the Eagles' favorite high-low reads is the dagger concept, which happens to be one of my favorite plays in football. SHOT 6 Agholor stretched the field vertically from the slot position to take the safeties away. There is typically a route underneath, close to the line of scrimmage, to help take any linebackers out of the play. The play is especially effective off of play-action, which the Eagles used here with LeGarrette Blount. When you suck the linebackers up toward the run, they have to scramble a little bit and may not feel the dig route, run by Jeffery, coming behind them. Alshon ran a great route on the outside, pressing vertically, and selling the go route before breaking hard inside on the dig route. He finished with a diving catch for a first down. This is a staple of the Eagles' passing game. It was Jeffery's first catch of the night, but it wouldn't be his last. Three plays after that catch by Jeffery, Blount would get his biggest carry of the night, a 16-yard run that drew plenty of attention from the fans in the stands. SHOT 7 This is a basic inside zone run with Blount, but watch how well the Eagles' offensive line created room for him to work. It all started with Jason Kelce and Isaac Seumalo on the play side. They pushed the nose tackle up to the second level, and as Seumalo sifted up to the linebacker, Kelce walled off the defensive tackle to create a lane for Blount. The backside double team of Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks generated great movement as well, helping Blount bust this one loose. Don't just finish with the end zone angle of the play though. Take note of what happened on the outside, where Nelson Agholor ran a bubble route and Jeffery a slant. If you've seen the highlights from the game, this may look familiar because we see it again on the very next snap. SHOT 8 It's another "packaged play" concept from the Eagles. Blount and the offensive line execute a running play in the box, but there's the same bubble slant combination to Wentz's right. Before the ball is snapped, Wentz decides whether he's going to hand this off or throw the ball to the perimeter based off what he sees defensively. He liked the numbers to the field, and that's when the magic happens. Wentz took the snap and subtly pump faked to the bubble. The second-level defenders from Miami reacted to Wentz's fake and jumped the route by Agholor in the flat. Both the corner and the safety are out of position, and Wentz should be able to easily hit Jeffery for a touchdown, right? Wrong. If Wentz pulled the trigger after the fake, he probably throws this ball right into Cameron Wake's chest for a red zone interception. The Dolphins blitzed from the opposite side, and they dropped the defensive end right into the passing lane. Wentz hung tough in the pocket, throwing another subtle shoulder fake outside to maneuver Wake underneath. He delivered a second-window throw (meaning he had to wait for the second passing lane to open up) to Jeffery for a touchdown. The Eagles put together two very similar play concepts back to back to finish a 93-yard touchdown drive. Wentz's savvy and quality decision-making helped put the ball across the goal line. The offensive line protection wasn't always perfect, but you also have to give a tip of the cap to Miami's personnel as well as its scheme. This third-down sack on the second series was a perfect example of just that. SHOT 9 It's third-and-4, and the Dolphins come out in a double A-gap pressure look, with two linebackers standing up right in front of Jason Kelce and a potential third blitzer to the left off the edge. With seven potential blitzers and only six blockers in to protect (Ertz will release on a route), the Eagles have to block this up right. If you caught our preview of the Vikings game last year, we did an entire piece dedicated to protecting against double A-gap pressure, and one of the best ways to do it is by using the center and running back to block the two linebackers inside. But remember, just because the two linebackers are standing in the A gaps doesn't mean that both will come! When Kiko Alonso, who was going to be blocked by Kelce, dropped into coverage (taking away the "hot" receiver in Ertz), Kelce diverted his attention. Being the smart, veteran lineman that he is, Kelce recognized that pressure will be coming off the edge, and he goes back door to try and pick up the extra rusher. On top of all of this, the Dolphins run a T/E stunt, with a defensive end looping around and coming right up the gut at Seumalo. While all of THIS happens, Wendell Smallwood was one-on-one with veteran defender Lawrence Timmons, who has turned into an outstanding blitzer after a long career in Pittsburgh. Smallwood got pushed backward. Kelce and Seumalo, reacting to their respective assignments, got caught up in each other, and Wentz went down to force a punt. There was a LOT going on there. This wasn't just a run-of-the-mill preseason pressure scheme. The Eagles' offense could've executed better, but this was a very well-designed blitz to defend. The double A-gap schemes are designed to create one-on-one matchups against running backs, and that's exactly what they got on this play. Smallwood helped give up the sack there, but I thought the second-year back was impressive in his first live action this summer. He ran hard and had a few impressive touches, but there were two that really stood out to me. SHOT 10 The first play featured a quick-hitting concept inside with Seumalo pulling to the play side. I love how decisive and confident Smallwood was on this run, hitting it right off Seumalo's back side. He trusted that the crease would be there, hit the hole hard, and came out on the other side for a solid pickup. On the next play, a draw run to the left, Smallwood ran into a crowd and ended up creating a bunch of yardage for himself. With six defenders in a tight area, Smallwood stayed alive and busted this play outside for a first down. He didn't see a lot of this at West Virginia. Coaches have said how far along Smallwood has come this offseason in the mental side of the game, and when he's been healthy this summer he's been impressive. If he can stay on the field, I think he can have a real impact in this offense. The two rookie running backs also saw a good amount of work on Thursday night. Corey Clement and Donnel Pumphrey both had their share of highlights in the game against Miami. SHOT 11 Since Coach Pederson's arrival, I've always noted how deep the playbook is in the run game. There's a wide variety of concepts with gap schemes, zone schemes, and misdirection elements abound. Here are four runs with Clement, and all of them are different kinds of concepts. The consistent theme, however, was his physicality, decisiveness, and confidence between the tackles. Clement ran hard on Thursday night with the second unit and finished a drive against Miami's starting defense with a touchdown. SHOT 12 Pumphrey also had his best game carrying the football as well. He did a much better job trusting the blocks to open up. He's still not playing as fast as he did in college, and that will come, but it was good to see him run with this kind of confidence Thursday night. SHOT 13 Pumphrey was also used in the passing game, a role he was used in a lot during his career at San Diego State. Whether he's in the backfield or in the slot, Pumphrey has the ability to be a reliable receiver. Here are two third-down catches from Thursday's game. This was a great way to end the preseason for the starting offense, and there are plenty of interesting storylines to follow as the team heads into the final game of the summer next week against the New York Jets.), we did an entire piece dedicated to protecting against double A-gap pressure, and one of the best ways to do it is by using the center and running back to block the two linebackers inside. But remember, just because the two linebackers are standing in the A gaps doesn't mean that both will come!

When Kiko Alonso, who was going to be blocked by Kelce, dropped into coverage (taking away the "hot" receiver in Ertz), Kelce diverted his attention. Being the smart, veteran lineman that he is, Kelce recognized that pressure will be coming off the edge, and he goes back door to try and pick up the extra rusher.

On top of all of this, the Dolphins run a T/E stunt, with a defensive end looping around and coming right up the gut at Seumalo.

While all of THIS happens, Wendell Smallwood was one-on-one with veteran defender Lawrence Timmons, who has turned into an outstanding blitzer after a long career in Pittsburgh. Smallwood got pushed backward. Kelce and Seumalo, reacting to their respective assignments, got caught up in each other, and Wentz went down to force a punt.

There was a LOT going on there. This wasn't just a run-of-the-mill preseason pressure scheme. The Eagles' offense could've executed better, but this was a very well-designed blitz to defend. The double A-gap schemes are designed to create one-on-one matchups against running backs, and that's exactly what they got on this play. Duffy: Eagles didn't 'live in the moment' vs. the Rams

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