There clearly is a philosophy transition from what we have seen with this current Philadelphia Eagles squad from what they were under Andy Reid. Many of the key players are still in place, but how they are used in the scheme is completely different. It’s an offensive attack that is more wide open formation-wise and, plays are coming off with 16 to 18 seconds still left on the play clock.
Michael Vick was the opening day starter and held the job for Chip Kelly until a hamstring injury knocked him out of the Giants game two weeks ago. Nick Foles took the controls last weekend in Tampa, and he was able to get a victory on the road with an efficient performance.
The way this attack operates between Vick and Foles is night and day. Foles is more interested in beating you with his arm, rather than his legs. Vick is just the opposite, even though he is trying to be more of a passer – which, at times, he has been able to do.
Under Kelly, the Eagles are running a read-option scheme Depending on which games you study, that style, which we saw him run successfully in the college ranks at Oregon, looks better under Vick. Even with Foles in there now, you still see the ball handling, but the threat of the explosive quarterback run is not there.
This is where Vick would break down a defense with his ability to just take off on the play and run 40 yards like he did two weeks ago against the Giants.
With no disrespect to DeSean Jackson and the way he plays in this scheme, LeSean McCoy is Philly’s biggest offensive threat.
This offense likes to spread the field out, then attack with their running game and take advantage of the space they are creating. McCoy is the perfect runner for this offense because of his ability to make explosive cuts with the ball in his hands.
Depending on which side of the quarterback he lines up on, he can take the ball in the direction of the blocking or he will just allow the flow to go one way, then he will attack the area where the defenders have left. He can get the ball quickly to the second level and into the secondary.
He is dangerous catching the ball in space off the screen, and Kelly is not afraid to get it to him in this manor at any point on the field. If the Eagles anticipate a blitzh, Kelly will set up the screen to McCoy and just gash the defense with it. I am not sure how Monte Kiffin plans to handle him in this game, but he cannot allow him to take this game over with the big plays that he is capable of making.
These defensive players are well aware of what DeSean Jackson brings to this matchup on the outside. Jackson is back to his old tricks as a vertical player in this offense, but Kelly has brought back the college element to his game -- quick screens to maximize his ability to get the ball in space.
If I were these Cowboys defensive coaches, I would consider putting
Riley Cooper is the starter opposite Jackson and he has already had his share of battles with
There is a great deal of toughness to his game, and like I was talking about Eric Decker a couple of weeks ago, Cooper is the same type of player. No matter where the ball is thrown, he is going to find a way to come down with it. He can run vertical routes, he can work underneath, he blocks -- there are several things on the field that he does well. He is sneaky-fast and his size makes him tough to fight for those contested balls.
It will be another difficult matchup for the Cowboys linebackers and safeties in having to figure out a way to handle these Eagles tight ends.
Veteran Brent Celek has always been a thorn in the side of Dallas since he came into the league in 2007. He still has the ability to get down the field, find a soft spot in the defense and make a clutch catch.
Zach Ertz is a rookie out of Stanford, and some of those traits that he had in college like outstanding hands and route running he carried with him. What has been really impressive about Ertz has been his ability to adjust to the balls that are less than perfect. He will put himself in some awkward positions to make sure he secures the ball.
In 2012, the Philadelphia Eagles had one of the worst offensive lines in the league, largely due to injuries, but there were some questions about the skill level as well.
The front office went out and addressed those issues by drafting Lane Johnson out of Oklahoma in the first round of last spring’s draft. Johnson is very athletic but doesn’t have a great deal of strength at this point, and you can see it in his play. His technique and his effort are good, but you do see him give ground both blocking for the run and pass. Johnson has played both as a guard and a tackle this season.
Jason Peters is the starter on the left side at tackle and has been steady there. Evan Mathis is next to him at guard, and, like Peters has been good. Mathis is not the most powerful player, but it’s rare that you see him on the ground. He is a much better pass blocker than run. Their best offensive linemen in my view, is center, Jason Kelce.
When the Eagles are really running the ball with McCoy, it is usually Kelce who is either making a nice reach block or getting to the second level to handle a linebacker. Like Mathis, he does a really nice job of playing on his feet and sustaining his block.