The basic formula for Chip Kelly's offense is leveraging numbers plus alignment. The Eagles used that formula to take advantage of the Raiders on two big plays, a running play and a passing play from the exact same formation.
On Philadelphia's first drive against the Raiders last Sunday, Oakland defended the Eagles' formation of three receivers to one side with two cornerbacks playing off and linebacker Sio Moore tight to the formation.
For Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, his option is clear as a bell. With three receivers to his left and two defenders giving a cushion, it's a bubble screen to receiver Riley Cooper. That's easy.
After preparing for the Eagles offense, the Raiders needed to know better. The bubble screen is one of the staples of the Eagles' offense with Kelly. This play went for a 42-yard gain. The numbers advantage and alignment of the Raiders made it easy.
Within this package-play concept by Philadelphia, you have three or four options based on a cursory pre-snap look at the defense and what the defense does on the snap. Later in the first quarter, the Eagles used the exact same formation but the Raiders lined up differently against it. Therefore, the Eagles ran the ball.
This time the Raiders had three defenders on three receivers and played them tighter. The bubble screen is taken away.
So what else is part of these package plays? Read option principles.
There are two defenders lined up just outside of Eagles left tackle Jason Peters. On an inside zone run, the widest defender at the line isn't even in the numbers count. He's not going to disrupt the play. So you end up with five offensive linemen blocking five defenders in the run game. And Peters’ block is easy. The first guy outside of him is out-leveraged before the snap of the ball.
The offense gets a hat on a hat in the running game and there’s no extra defender. Every offense in the NFL would take that. Again, there’s almost no reading involved for Foles. You hand it off on the inside zone. It’s clear. Bryce Brown gained 32 yards on this run.
On both the long pass to Cooper and the long run to Brown, how the Raiders lined up before the snap dictated the play.
The Eagles played fast in this game, often snapping with 20 or 25 seconds left on the play clock. That gives the defense just enough time to line up. They can’t look at a formation and move people around. They just have to make sure they're in position before the snap. That’s the whole point of the Eagles' uptempo offense.
An offense operating at that speed can’t be as complex as other offenses, but it also forces the defense to be very basic.
Philadelphia plays against the Packers and defensive coordinator Dom Capers on Sunday. The 3-4 coordinators like Capers tend to be very scheme-based – a lot of blitzes and unique looks and zone pressures with different guys. So the question becomes, can Capers get deep in his playbook, or will the Packers just have just enough time to line up and play?
The Packers do play some man coverage, and could do that on Sunday. However, in terms of their sophisticated and elaborate pressure concepts, will Capers be able to get to those things? That’s the chess match to this week's game in Green Bay.
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NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league.
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