Thursday, September 12, 2013

So what was up with that crazy-ass three linemen formation from the Eagles?

So you have the two offensive tackles aligned way the hell wide, creating what looks like two trips bunches - but of course one man in each "bunch" is actually not an eligible receiver:

The Redskins defense notes the obvious - the Eagles are set up to run a screen to either side if the defenders remain bunched up in the middle of the field. After some shouting and gesturing by London Fletcher and DeAngelo Hall, Perry Riley and Josh Wilson each quickly move to cut off the screen options to either side so the Redskins won't be stuck with a cornerback trying to take on an offensive tackle:

Of course option football is designed such that any action taken by the defense opens up something else, so with two defenders taken out of the middle of the field and the safeties deep the Eagles now face only five defenders and and a lot of space. Granted its five on five - three OLs, Michael Vick, and LeSean McCoy - but with those two potential ball carriers and a lot of open field a numerical superiority of blockers isn't really necessary. 

And having Vick as a viable threat to run hamstrings the Redskins even further. Note how Orakpo stays to the outside in order to keep contain on Vick, and this works just fine for the Eagles. Kerrigan is clearly fixated on Vick and barrels right for him, making it an obvious read for Vick to hand it off to McCoy, who now has a massive running lane with his only obstacle being London Fletcher, who has three disadvantages:

- He is seven yards distant
- He is hesitant to close and fill the gap in case Vick keeps the ball
- He is 187 years old while facing LeSean McCoy in the open field

All things considered Fletcher does a pretty solid job of forcing McCoy to the outside where E.J. Biggers (playing at safety) is able to close and force him to the ground.

Note that nothing the Eagles did here is particularly complex, and of course that's the genius of it. But by forcing the the defense to make choices about what to defend they are able to execute some very simple concepts - a screen with blocker superiority, a handoff up the middle against a spread out defense, or a QB keeper with the linebackers occupied - for a 10 yard gain that could have been even more.

It's a pity Chip Kelly got hired by a division rival, in any other circumstances I would really be rooting for him. This stuff is fun.

1 comment:

  1. Nice analysis. Well done Mr Outen