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Eagle Eye In The Sky: Foles' Seven TDs


It was one of those games you'll always remember. Regardless of the team's record and where this team ends up in the standings at the end of the 2013 season, Nick Foles' day in Week 9 against the Oakland Raiders will go down as one of the greatest performances in team history.

Think about the list of superlatives and it's enough to make your head spin. He tied an NFL record with seven touchdown passes, and was the first to do so through three quarters of play. He had a perfect quarterback rating, one of only two Eagles in history to accomplish the feat. He threw more touchdowns than incompletions. He led the team to touchdowns on each of the first four possessions. He's thrown 13 scoring strikes on the season which is more than Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton while not turning the ball over once. Rather than continue on with these numbers, as much as I'd love to, let's just take a look behind the curtain and understand how Foles' big day came to fruition.



Here's Foles' first touchdown. It's first-and-goal on the 2-yard line, and Oakland is in man coverage, with a "Rat" player covering the middle of the field.


The Eagles will be running a type of "Mesh" concept, that has two underneath routes crossing over each other. Here, we see tight end Brent Celek coming underneath of wide receiver Riley Cooper. This route combination is going to be a problem for the Raiders in man coverage, with a lot of bodies in a confined area.


As we take a look at the end zone angle, you can see from left to right, No. 29 Brandian Ross manned up on Celek and No. 24 Charles Woodson manned up on Cooper. Middle linebacker Nick Roach (No. 93) is the player in the middle of the field.


You can see that Ross gets caught up in the garbage in the middle of the field. Roach tries to disrupt Celek's route underneath, and Cooper does a nice job with a slight pick inside. Ross has no chance to catch up to Celek, who gets free to the other side of the field for the first score of the day.




It's third-and-5, and the Raiders again are playing man-free coverage, with safety Charles Woodson lining up as the free safety in the middle of the field.


At the snap of the ball, look at Foles, who first looks to the right side of the field. The Eagles have two tight ends (Celek and Zach Ertz) as well as DeSean Jackson to the right. Woodson has to respect that side of the field, and Foles makes sure of that by manipulating him with his eyes.


Foles knows Woodson is now out of the picture, and comes back to the other side of the field, where Cooper has yet to separate from rookie first-round pick D.J. Hayden. Foles is preparing to let go of the football, and is throwing it to a spot to let Cooper go get it.


Cooper makes an outstanding catch after a great touch pass by Foles. The 17-yard touchdown makes it 14-3, good guys, and the party is just beginning.



Let's go to the very next offensive play for the Eagles, who have just forced the Raiders to punt. It's first-and-10 from the Eagles' 37-yard line. The Raiders will be playing "Cover-3," with three deep defenders and four underneath in zone coverage.


Conversely, the Eagles will be running three vertical routes down the field. If you were to draw this up on the board, the Raiders theoretically should have this covered, but Foles has other ideas.


Again, Foles starts his progression by looking towards Jackson to the right side of the field. Attempting to read the quarterback's eyes, Woodson is also leaning that direction.


Partner that initial look from Foles with Celek's route down the seam, and Woodson is taken out of this play. At the top of the screen, Cooper was given an inside release by Hayden, who played with outside leverage because he thought he had safety help in the form of Woodson. Unfortunately for him, that wasn't the case.

Also of note, Foles did a great job of using pocket movement to create space to throw the ball. He had a defender in his face, took a slight step to his left, and unloaded the ball down the field to Cooper for a 63-yard touchdown.




It's first-and-10 on the 14-yard line, and the Raiders are again in "Tampa-2" coverage.


To the bottom of the screen, you'll see a "Smash" concept, with Ertz running a corner route and DeSean Jackson running a curl route underneath. This concept is known as a "Tampa-2" killer, and it's a great play call against the Raiders coverage.


When I last broke down "Tampa-2" I wrote about the "turkey hole," one of the weak spots in that defensive coverage scheme. It's the gap between the safety and the corner along the sideline. This smash route brings Ertz right into the turkey hole. Foles scrambles from the pocket. Jackson smartly doesn't run upfield and stays underneath, while Ertz is wide open for the touchdown, the first of his career.



On to touchdown number five. It's second-and-10, and as we saw earlier, the Eagles are shifting to an empty set by motioning LeSean McCoy from the backfield.


This time, however, no one goes with McCoy. The Raiders are in a blitz, and no one runs with the back as he motions to the right of the formation.


This plays right into the Eagles' hands. It's man coverage, and with a double-slant combination to the top of the screen, McCoy should be wide open on this play.


Foles makes a perfect throw, getting the ball upfield to McCoy and allowing him to catch it in stride. McCoy gets to full speed and with help from Ertz downfield he goes in for the 25-yard touchdown to make it 35-13 early in the third quarter.



Another play, another touchdown.


Again, the Eagles are sending three vertical routes down the field on this play, attacking man-free coverage. Woodson is again the free safety in the middle of the field.


The key once again is the eye manipulation from Foles, who is looking to the opposite side of the field than where he will actually be going with the football. He looks to his left to Cooper, who had been his favorite target all day. He throws in a pump fake for good measure, and that paired with Jason Avant's route down the seam right at Woodson keeps the safety in place.


As Foles releases the football, Woodson is flat-footed on the hash. He has no chance at making a play on the ball. The corner defending DeSean Jackson falls down, and Jackson strolls in for a 46-yard touchdown grab.



And now for the last offensive play in this breakdown. This is Foles' final touchdown pass of the day, a 5-yard grab in the back of the end zone by Riley Cooper.


The Eagles line up on second down with Foles in the shotgun with LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson in the backfield next to him. The offensive line and McCoy are selling inside run off the snap to the left.


What you'll actually see is three receivers going in the opposite direction to the right. This use of misdirection is very similar to what I showed you in my Raiders breakdown last week.


Right off the snap, you see all the flow going the opposite direction, as five Raiders initially move towards the inside run-action.


Foles rolls to his right, and uses the pump fake to his advantage again.


Look at what this pump fake does to Brandian Ross (circled), who completely turns around and is taken out of position.


Foles and Cooper know they've got him, as Cooper puts his hand up and Foles puts it right on the money for the receiver's third touchdown of the afternoon.


Foles' performance was spectacular, as he put his ability to throw with anticipation, win with eye manipulation, create space for himself inside the pocket, move defenders with pump fakes and make touch throws with great ball placement was put on full display.

For a more thorough breakdown of the Eagles' matchup against the Green Bay Packers, be sure to tune into Eagles Game Plan this weekend.

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