All-22 Odds And Ends From Week Two

There's always more to discuss, so while we're still in awe at Fletcher Cox's skills, let me sneak a few more All-22 nuggets under the wire before tomorrow's game.

First things first. Brandon Boykin needs to run to space when returning kickoffs, and use his blocker (Stanley Havili, marked in blue) as a guide. If he had picked the right hole below, he could have been one-on-one with the kicker.

You're going the wrong way!

You're going the wrong way!

Here's a really simple play that drew a big gain for the Eagles: 28 yard pass to Brent Celek. The funny thing about this play is, there are actually only two pass routes.

Jackson's end-around fake will suck in the Ravens LBs and CB, leaving space behind.

Jackson's end-around fake will suck in the Ravens LBs and CB, leaving space behind.

Leaving both Maclin and Celek wide open down the field.

Leaving both Maclin and Celek wide open down the field.

Finally, I don't understand what the Eagles are doing when it comes to "safety valve" routes, where Michael Vick can throw when everything else is covered and/or he's under pressure. In most cases, when Vick even has a checkdown, it comes from LeSean McCoy blocking, then releasing into the middle.

That's tremendously ineffective for Vick. First, because he isn't tall enough to see over the line for McCoy. Second, because he's his own backup plan in the middle of the field. Having McCoy park there just draws defenders where Vick wants to scramble — like in this play below:

Vick can't even see McCoy. Plus, he's keeping defenders inside, where Vick wants to scramble.

Vick can't even see McCoy. Plus, he's keeping defenders inside, where Vick wants to scramble.

Compare that to a typical Ravens play, where Joe Flacco has two easy options in the flat.

Compare that to a typical Ravens play, where Joe Flacco has two easy options in the flat.

If you haven't seen it yet: check out my All-22 looks at Cox, Danny Watkins, and the Eagles first drive.

Other folks are also doing great stuff with Coaches Film too. See Derek Sarley here and here, Jimmy Kempski here, and Sheil Kapadia here and here.

Fletcher Cox For The Win

After watching the Eagles victory over the Ravens in All-22 coaches film yesterday, I was all prepared to write one big post about my observations. Then I realized I had too many images to comfortably load into one post. So last night, if you were around, I showed you one play that highlights Danny Watkins' improvement.

This morning, we'll look at this year's first round pick, a much more positive read. Fletcher Cox has flown under the radar since arriving in August. He did little of note in the preseason, and was outshined early on by rookie teammates Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Boykin. The trouble is, it's difficult to examine defensive tackle play, especially in real time. Unless they're getting sacks or tackles for a loss, trench players just don't stand out.

At least, until you turn on the coaches film. When I watched Cox against the Ravens, I saw a player who is already the Eagles best run stuffer and an emerging force in pass rushing. He routinely beat Ravens right guard Marshal Yanda, a sixth-year player who was re-signed last year to a $32 million contract and then earned All-Pro honors. By the end of the day, Cox was drawing double teams left and right, which allowed DeMeco Ryans to make some of his biggest plays.

Let's roll the film. Here's Cox, one on one with Yanda in the second quarter. Check out these three successive freeze-frames:

Looks like Yanda has him well-blocked one-on-one.

Looks like Yanda has him well-blocked one-on-one.

But Cox is kind of strong.

But Cox is kind of strong.

And he tosses the All-Pro to the ground in one move. Hello, Joe Flacco.

And he tosses the All-Pro to the ground in one move. Hello, Joe Flacco.

Here are two frames from a run play to the left, away from Cox. Yanda tries to cut-block him. Hilarity ensues.

The block worked. Oh no, our hero is on the ground!

The block worked. Oh no, our hero is on the ground!

Wait, not anymore. Now he's at the other hash, making the tackle on Ray Rice.

Wait, not anymore. Now he's at the other hash, making the tackle on Ray Rice.

This is when the Ravens realize they have to start double-teaming Cox.

Or triple-teaming him, as the case may be.

Or triple-teaming him, as the case may be.

Through his first two games, DeMeco Ryans is blowing away expectations for linebackers in this city. But one of the major reasons he's able to burst through the line on run plays is that he has Cox absorbing two blockers in front of him. Here are two Ravens run plays in the fourth quarter:

Cox double team = Ryans TFL.

Cox double team = Ryans TFL.

Take two: Cox double team = Ryans TFL.

Take two: Cox double team = Ryans TFL.

It's tough for me to not overhype Cox. This was only his second game in the NFL and he's already tossing All-Pro linemen around like rag dolls and soaking up double teams like he doesn't care. Plus, he's got a Trent Cole-esque motor. How many 300 lb. defensive tackles have the drive (and speed) to get up off the ground after a successful cut-block and still make the play? And he's still learning! 

As the year goes on, surely Fletch will have his ups and downs. But there's already so much to love about the Eagles first round pick. Keep your eye on him.

See more All-22 film notes here.

The New Danny Watkins

I'll have more (and nicer) stuff tomorrow from my Game Rewind adventure, but tonight I'll just leave you with this masterpiece.

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Breaking Down the Eagles First Drive

I finally got a chance to really work with the All-22 coaches tape everyone's been clamoring about, and many folks have put to great use. I charted the Eagles first two drives of the Baltimore game, drawing up the routes and schemes the Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg used to mostly great effect. Aside from the final play, I skipped the run downs. See it all below.

1. First play of the game, the Eagles keep seven players in to block and only run three pass routes. Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson (top) each go deep, but they're more distractions than anything. The Ravens surely focused all week on preventing the big play, and Reid wants to exploit that right away. The four defensive backs marked with yellow Xs are all focused on keeping Maclin and Jackson from doing anything. That clears out space for Brent Celek to run a crossing route across the middle. With the weakside linebacker blitzing, the Ravens have only the MIKE to cover the middle of the field. Eyes in the backfield, presumably in case Michael Vick scrambles, he loses track of Celek. Easy pitch and catch for the first down.

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2. Similar play in effect. Macline clears out two players with a deep route, and Jason Avant, who motions pre-snap, attracts two linebackers to him in the flat. The Ravens, stuck in zone coverage, strand two defensive backs on the other side of the field. Jackson, who lines up in the slot, gets a mismatch on a linebacker. Another easy first down completion.

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3. Run to LeSean McCoy. 2 yard gain.

4. Bubble screen to DeSean. I think they're trying to take advantage of the deep safety (20+ yards away) and what they think is a blitzing slot corner (marked in blue). When he doesn't blitz, DeSean has nowhere to go.

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5. Ravens threaten blitz here and put eight guys in the box, but they only rush three and drop rest back into coverage. Vick rifles ball to Avant, who sits down in hole in the zone. First down. If he needed, McCoy was available as a checkdown after he wasn't needed to block.

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6. Eagles run a play action fake to the right which draws linebackers (red Xs) to right. Celek scrapes across and out the other side, which is open after Maclin runs decoy deep route (again). Beats linebackers, but Ed Reed (blue) diagnoses the play extraordinarily quickly and keeps Celek to 5 yard gain.

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7. Run to Damaris Johnson. First down.

8. Run to Stanley Havili. 1 yard.

9. Eagles go five wide with two tight ends. Vick first looks left to Maclin and Avant, but both are covered. He then turns to Celek in middle, but help from that dropping linebacker means he's not open either. Vick doesn't have time to look to his right for Clay Harbor or Jackson, as he's immediately flushed from the pocket  after King Dunlap can't sustain his block. Should have run out of bounds or thrown it away, but Vick was picked when he tried to force it to Harbor.

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1. Back after the Trent Cole strip-sack: run to LeSean McCoy, no gain.

2. Run to McCoy, big gain. Dunlap called for holding.

3. Run to McCoy, no gain. Ray Lewis reads it.

4. At the bottom, Desean a runs deep post, while Celek runs an out route right at the safety. With Harbor's short route in the flat drawing two defenders, both have single coverage. 19 yards to Celek.

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5. 4th and 1 run to McCoy.

6. 1st down run to Brown.

7. Eagles bring Avant in motion designed to get Jackson on-one-one in the slot against a safety or linebacker. Instead, the slot corner follows Avant over, blankets Jackson. Ravens bring eight on blitz, get to Vick. Roughing the passer called, though.

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8. Here's the McCoy TD run. It's a really odd blocking scheme. On the left, Dunlap, Harbor, and Havili block as if it's a stretch to that side. On the right, everyone but extra tackle Demetress Bell blocks in the opposite direction. That leaves two Ravens defenders (red) in the middle where the hole should be. Evan Mathis lets BOTH go to engage the second level. How do the Eagles plan to block them? For the lineman on the left, they simply freeze him with Havili's motion to the left. The other one breaks through the line when Bell doesn't get there in time. Luckily, he's more focused on putting a hit on Vick than stopping McCoy.

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Safeties Stepping Up

Mike Tanier, over at his new home Sports on Earth, has a quick look at one Eagles defensive change at halftime designed to inhibit the Ravens' tight end-centered attack. Interestingly, Juan Castillo apparently didn't order the change, but rather it was the defensive backs acting on their own (or perhaps under the authority of shadow-coordinator Todd Bowles). Check it out.

Three Eagles Must-Reads

This week is tremendously busy for me at my day job, so I haven't had time to dig deep into the Browns game or the upcoming match up against the Ravens yet. Luckily for you, other folks are writing brilliant stuff. Here are your three must-reads:

  1. Sheil Kapadia's All-22 look at the Eagles offense.
  2. Then Sheil's All-22 look at the Eagles defense.
  3. Andy Benoit at Football Outsiders analyzing Eagles-Ravens using the All-22.

(See a pattern?)