flight plans If Eagles coach Chip Kelly has his way, Philly’s speed-’em-up, spread-’em-out offense will remain a mystery until its Week 1 unveiling Sept. 9 on Monday Night Football. But we asked two ESPN Insiders—Field Yates, a former scouting intern with the Patriots, and KC Joyner, our resident football scientist—to peel back the curtain a little early. After studying the tape and crunching the numbers, they offer their sneak peek at what to expect from Kelly’s crew in 2013.
michael vick the best rushing QB ever. needs to be more decisive in the pocket.
With Michael Vick’s powerful arm and DeSean Jackson’s speed, shots downfield will be a given. (To wit: The deep-threat duo connected on a 47-yard TD in a preseason game against the Patriots.) And no doubt Vick, the NFL’s all-time-leading rushing QB (5,551 yards), will have opportunities to make plays in the open field on read-option runs. But in the pocket, Kelly’s system requires decisive action, which isn’t one of Vick’s strengths. Since 2011, he’s held on to the ball an average of 3.81 seconds before passing, the longest time among all qualifying QBs.
Vick’s vertical ypa ranked 11th in the NFL in 2012. But to stay the starter, he’ll need to limit mistakes on the run. Vick had two INTs, a near pick and two fumbles on 46 scrambles last season.
ESPN The Magazine 09/16/2013
L E sean M c coy
d e sean jackson
loves thinking outside the box. the linemen need to follow his lead.
knows how to talk. now he’ll learn to “yac” in kelly’s attack.
Kelly’s proficient rushing scheme has innumerable wrinkles, but the staples are inside and outside zone runs, which demand a patient yet decisive approach from starting RB LeSean McCoy and top reserve Bryce Brown (4.9 ypc in 2012). Another key to outside zone runs are reach blocks from the line— each O-lineman must account for defenders lined up outside of his frame. Both frontside and backside guards will be required to pull on certain plays. The entire line—like the rest of Kelly’s offense—needs to know how to play in space for this scheme to succeed.
The Eagles ran outside the tackles 153 times in 2012, third in the NFL. McCoy and Brown were each in the top 20 among qualified RBs on perimeter runs (Brown 5.0 ypc, McCoy 4.8).
Kelly looks for numerical advantages anywhere he can find them—and that includes in the passing game. To that end, Jackson should see his run-after-catch numbers get a healthy boost with a double dose of WR screens. Such passing plays will be all the more effective because of Philly’s stable of pass-catching RBs and TE Brent Celek (684 yards in 2012), who keep the middle occupied and stretch the defense horizontally. An intermediate passing game built on option routes gives Vick & Co. the ability to read the defense and adjust pass patterns accordingly.
Jackson’s 7.3 ypa on screens tied for 18th in the league last year. He’s never had a season with 125-plus targets, but he’ll need to step up and carry this passing game like an elite WR.
FROM left: JOE ROBBINS/GETTY IMAGES; VINCENT PUGLIESE/USA TODAY SPORTS; DAlE ZANINE/USA TODAY SPORTS; BACKGROUND: ROB TRINGALI