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Offense Flourished In The Red Zone

Consistently converting red zone chances into touchdowns was a problem for the Eagles earlier in the season. The offense was able to move the ball between the 20's seemingly at will, but could not punch it across the goal line, far too often having to settle for field goals and leaving points on the field. The Eagles' red zone touchdown conversion rate of 48.15 percent ranks 26th in the NFL, but hopefully Sunday's performance against the Oakland Raiders is a sign of things to come. The Eagles were 31st in red zone touchdown conversion rate going into the game before quarterback Nick Foles was able to throw four touchdown passes in four opportunities.

The first touchdown came on the Eagles' first drive of the game, facing a first-and-goal from the 2-yard line following a 10-yard completion to tight end Zach Ertz. They came out in shotgun "12" personnel, with tight ends Brent Celek and James Casey to the right of the formation; Celek was in-line next to right tackle Lane Johnson, with Casey next to him just off the line. Running back LeSean McCoy was in the backfield, with receiver Jason Avant in the slot and Riley Cooper split wide left. Cooper motioned inside Avant, with Raiders rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden following him in man coverage. At the snap, Hayden switched to take Avant and free safety Charles Woodson took Cooper (both receivers ran crosses to the right), clearing out the left side of the end zone. Left tackle Jason Peters picked up cornerback Tracy Porter – who was offside, a penalty the Eagles declined – on a blitz, providing Foles with ample time to sit in the pocket and go through his reads. Celek ran a crossing pattern to the vacant left part of the end zone, not allowing a bump from middle linebacker Nick Roach nudge him off course. Foles delivered a strike that Celek caught in stride. Perfect design, easy pitch-and-catch and a touchdown – 7-0, Eagles.

The Eagles' second drive would produce their second red zone touchdown. On the second play of the second quarter, the Eagles were faced with a third-and-5 at the Raiders' 17-yard line. They came out in shotgun "12" personnel again, with Ertz and Casey flexed to the right hash and slot, respectively, and wide receiver DeSean Jackson out wide. McCoy was in the backfield and Cooper was the only receiver split wide to the left of the formation. Foles took the snap and looked right to hold the single high safety in the middle of the field, knowing he had Cooper in single coverage. Then, all in one motion, he turned left and lofted a gorgeous touch pass to the end zone for Cooper, who was even with Hayden at the time of the ball's release, to run under. With the help of a subtle push – scratch that, a savvy veteran move – from Cooper, Hayden appeared to get a little off balance as he turned and tried to locate the ball in the air. Cooper motored by him to create separation at the very end, then extended his arms to snag the ball and got both feet down inbounds for the touchdown – 14-3, Eagles.

The third red zone touchdown, and the Eagles' fourth overall touchdown of the game, came later in the second quarter. Following a middle tight end screen during which Celek rumbled for 24 yards, the Eagles had a first-and-10 at the Raiders' 15-yard line. They came out in shotgun "12" personnel again – I'm sensing a pattern – with Casey in-line to the left of the formation and Ertz flexed to the slot right. Jackson was split wide right, and Cooper lined up on the yard-number marker to the left. McCoy, who was to the right of Foles, went in motion to the left before the snap. The Raiders were in a "Tampa 2" coverage, with middle linebacker Nick Roach retreating deep down the middle of the field. Ertz got a free release and ran past linebacker Kevin Burnett before planting in the end zone and running an out to the right back corner. Safety Brandian Moss, for reasons that remain unknown, started to follow Ertz and then stopped as he locked his eyes onto Foles, who had started to roll right. Ertz put up his hand with Moss probably a good few yards away, still looking at Foles, who saw the tight end and fired a strike. By the time Moss reacted, it was too late, and Ertz had his first career touchdown reception – 28-10, Eagles.

The Eagles' fourth and final red zone touchdown, which was Foles' record-tying seventh touchdown pass, came on the fourth drive of the third quarter and capped their scoring for the game. Following a 59-yard bomb to Jackson and 4-yard rush by McCoy, the Eagles had second-and-goal from the 5-yard line. This time they came out in shotgun "11" personnel with Celek in-line to the right, McCoy in the backfield to Foles' right and trips bunch to the left with, in order, Jackson (lined up on the hash), Avant and Cooper. Jackson motioned to the right before the snap, stopping in front of Foles and then retreating to flank him on his left. Foles faked the sweep left handoff to McCoy at the snap, then rolled right. Jackson leaked out the same way to draw the attention of the linebacker, while Cooper ran a corner route to the back, right corner of the end zone. Foles pump-faked to get safety Brandian Moss to freeze ever so slightly as Cooper sped behind him. Moss got turned around, and it was all over. Foles fired a strike to a wide open Cooper for another easy, pitch-and-catch touchdown – 49-13, Eagles.

Each of the four red-zone touchdowns was a pristine example of an offense firing on all cylinders. Efficiency, personified. Kelly made the right playcalls to exploit the Raiders' coverages, and every player – not just Foles – executed his assignment perfectly. The end results, as you saw, were four touchdowns en route to a blowout victory. Now, the goal is duplicating that effort and execution this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field and throughout the rest of the season.

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