Kellen Moore shares his thoughts on pre-snap motion

Kellen Moore shares his thoughts on pre-snap motion originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

As the Eagles create their offense with blended ideas from Nick Sirianni and new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, it seems likely that they’re going to use more pre-snap motion in 2024.

It would be hard for them to use it less.

Because in 2023, the Eagles ranked dead last in the NFL in their usage of motion at just 10.9%, according to ESPN Stats and Info. While Sirianni has previously said he doesn’t want to “motion just to motion,” he has also repeatedly said “a wise man avoids all extremes. And the Eagles have been extreme in this category.

Meanwhile, Kellen Moore’s offenses in Dallas and Los Angeles have used pre-snap motion at a much higher rate. His Chargers offense in 2023 ranked eighth in the NFL at 25.9%.

At his first press conference since taking the Eagles’ OC job, Moore explained his thoughts on the use of motion:

“Certainly the shift in motion aspect of it, it probably goes back to how I grew up around the game with my dad being a high school coach, then being in college at Boise State, we kind of used it a lot,” Moore said. “It's always kind of stuck with me. There's obviously advantages to it.

“There's some things that you're trying to gather information for the defense, and there's other times you're simply stressing the defense. So I think there's those two elements. Ultimately you're trying to build packages and create things so that the run and the action game and the drop-back game. So there's alignment and similarities with the presentations that allows us to stress the defense with those different looks.”

Here’s a look at the motion usage rates across the league in 2023, via ESPN:

Sirianni during his time as Eagles head coach has been asked about his lack of motion plenty of times. He got that question even more frequently in 2023 when the offense was still a top 10 unit but no longer elite like it was in 2022.

Here’s what Sirianni said on Dec. 14 — after back-to-back losses with a total of 30 points — about the Eagles’ usage of pre-snap motion:

“There are many different ways you would motion. Sometimes it’s to gather information. Sometimes it’s to set up an advantage, whatever it could be.

There are other ways to gather information besides motion that teams do all the time. That’s something that we do. It could be by formation. Just because a guy moves, doesn’t necessarily give you the answer. It could be if a guy is removed from the core, it can give you the answer. If a guy is tight to the core, it gives you an answer. This formation can give you an answer.

“We spend an obscene amount of time trying to find answers for the quarterback and for our offense of what the defense is based off different looks. Now, sometimes the answer is to motion, and so there are some games where we motion more than we don’t. It’s a fair question because we do it less than everybody in the NFL.

“So, I would say that these last two games have not been up to our standard, but for the past two years we have been one of the best offenses in the NFL, and we’ve been in the same place with motion the entire time.”

Sure, it’s fair to point out that the Eagles had the No. 3 offense in the league in 2022 and made it to the Super Bowl running the same system, just much less effectively. But even Sirianni admitted after the season that the offense became stale in 2023. Bringing in Moore is supposed to refresh that side of the ball and a potential increase in motion is just one way to do that.

Of course, it’s not like motion is a cure-all. And there’s more than one way to cook an egg.

Take a look at the top 10 offenses in the NFL last year and their motion usage rates:

1. Dolphins: 401.3 ypg — 1st (68.2%)
2. 49ers: 389.4 ypg — 3rd (37.7%)
3. Lions: 394.8 ypg — 5th (28.9%)
4. Bills: 374.5 ypg — 27th (13.4%)
5. Cowboys: 371.6 ypg — 23rd (15.6%)
6. Ravens: 370.4 ypg — 6th (28.2%)
7. Rams: 359.3 ypg — 2nd (44.1%)
8. Eagles: 354.4 ypg — 32nd (10.9%)
9. Chiefs: 351.3 ypg — 16th (19.1%)
10. Vikings: 347.8 ypg — 15th (19.4%)

During Thursday’s press conference, Moore mentioned a few times that the Eagles cannot “lose the good” from the offense in recent seasons. And while frustration over Sirianni’s offense reached a peak in 2023, it’s true that the Eagles have had offensive success over the last three years.

But the Eagles brought in Moore to freshen up the offense and more motion is one really obvious way to do that.

“I think everyone's got their different flavor from a systematic approach,” Moore said. “Our real focus here, as we've gone through this process, is we've got a lot of good going on. We can't lose the good in the reps that Jalen (Hurts) and A.J. (Brown) have developed and Dallas (Goedert) has developed and this offensive line has developed. How can we build off of those things and really connect the whole thing.”

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