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FFODC Previews The Eagles

WHAT Skins (3-2) vs Eagles (5-1)
WHERE Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA
WHEN Monday, October 23, 8:30 PM
THE LINE  Skins +4.5 (O/U: 49)
TV  ESPN/ABC
WEATHER  H: 77, L: 64; Partly Cloudy

The Eagles offense is coached by three former quarterbacks in HC Doug Pederson, OC Frank Reich (Terp), and QB Coach John DeFilippo.

Pederson is an Andy Reid disciple so we can expect a healthy dose of option football and small wide receivers blessed with smurf speed.  Reich was responsible for Phillip Rivers’ best years (and yes he’s the guy who led the biggest comebacks in college and the NFL) and DeFilippo somehow managed to eek out a Pro Bowl tight end in 2015 with Johny Manziel and Josh McCown at quarterback.

All three heads put together generate an attack that looks to create confusion with mesh routes (air raid), stretching of defensive flat zones (west coast), and dual threat quarterbacks that force you to keep one guy protecting a keeper or bootleg at all times (option.)  So basically this is Kansas City’s offense all over again, except it’s Philly so the concepts aren’t clever, they’re just prickish and annoying.

Run Defense vs the Eagles

Wham:  In week 1 the Eagles ran a package of “wham” runs.  Basically a wham run allows for 1-2 offensive lineman to release immediately into the linebackers, creating a 200 pound mismatch and lots of room for the running back to run.  From what I have seen, they use wham with Blount at running back probably because it helps him build up a head of steam and do this:

LeGarrette Blount has averaged 4.9 yards AFTER CONTACT per carry in 2017. Only 8 running backs currently average 4.9 yards PER CARRY

It’s a deception play that Ioannidis was able to recognize, while Allen was not.  The result was a series of runs that yielded 6 yards per carry:

It’s a play that our offense uses, so whoever replaces Allen on Monday will have practiced against it.  Ioannidis shut this down by holding onto the lineman (legally, of course) who were trying to release to the linebacker level; that’s the cliff notes on how to beat it.

Otherwise, the Eagles core run package consists of inside and outside zone.  Those were the runs Allen excelled against; Ioannidis and the linebackers all perform well versus zone, how we do will probably come down to how Allen’s replacement (McClain/McGee/Hood/Francis) performs.

Versus DBs:  With the perimeter runs, the 49ers had success targeting our secondary whether is was catching us off-balance with motion:

Or targeting Baushaud Breeland in the run game:

Philly saw that and probably wants a shot at our DBs as well.  They have a couple of formations designed to target DBs, a twins formation like San Francisco used:

And a 3 tight end formation that will force our corners to stick their nose in the run game:

Zone Reads:  Another formation they like to roll out is a bunch formation split out wide which allows the QB lots of room if he keeps on a read option:

against Preston Smith this has no chance of working; he’s shown the athleticism to shut down both the quarterback and running back by himself on zone reads (see: Terrelle Pryor in Cleveland 2016.)  But what about Junior Galette and rookie Ryan Anderson?

Key Matchups:

BREELAND/MOREAU vs OUTSIDE RUNS

If Breeland can’t go, rookie Fabian Moreau will most likely get the start and we have no idea how willing he is to take on pulling lineman and tight ends.  Best case scenario is for us to put DJ over the tight end side whenever possible.

EVANDER HOOD vs OUTSIDE ZONE

Outside zone was Jonathan Allen’s specialty, it will be trial by fire as we try to find our #2 DT next to Ioannidis.  Versus Nickel, the Eagles like to play a 3 on 2 game with their left guard, left tackle and tight end vs the defensive end and linebacker.  They let their center try to reach/hook the defensive tackle, if he’s successful there is a big run in the making.

Hood has lost his swag the last couple of weeks as Centers have been dominating him one on one.  If that happens this week there will be huge alleys for running backs to cutback into.  Nose tackles are paid to dominate centers and stalemate against double teams at the very least.  If Hood can’t win, it will be up to newcomer AJ Francis, Stacy McGee (not his natural position) or Terrell McClain to take over.

JUNIOR GALETTE and RYAN ANDERSON vs ZONE READS

We know Smith can handle them, but does Galette have the discipline–he tends to get up field and lose contain–and does Anderson have the eyes to contain zone reads?  No false steps allowed with the amount of space the Eagle’s formations will put them in.

Pass Defense vs the Eagles

Trips.

TRIPS
TRIIIIIPS

Trips:  Three receivers to one side of the field is the Eagles base formation, they love to run every route they can from it and occasionally pound it up the middle.  The 3×1 formation spreads defenses out creating well defined mismatches.

It can put our rookie FS Montae Nicholson alone with deep coverage.  To exploit that, the Eagles have run a cross/post route combo which puts the Free Safety in conflict:

And attacked the FS directly with the inside receiver:

To the single receiver side the Eagles like to line up either 6’3 218 pound WR Alshon Jeffery or 6’5 250 pound TE Zach Ertz.

Related to that, Quinton Dunbar likes to “press and go”:

Can he get away with that technique versus guys who are Megatron clones?

2×2:  In week 1 they deployed a lot of 2×2 formations which put a safety one on one with Zach Ertz in the middle of the field, and they found success with Ertz vs Everett.  But ever since then, they have been rolling with Trips (3×1) and it’s been working for them.

Bubble Screens:  They have been calling bubble screens out of trips about three to four times a game in an effort to bait aggressive coverage and then attack deep.

FWIW: the Cardinals ID’d two formations that the Eagles liked to run the bubble out of, one is with the backup TE lined up as the #2 receiver:

with the other being Agholor lined up in the slot and Alshon Jeffery lined up outside him as the lead blocker; in both cases Arizona removed their OLB from the line and placed him over the trips side.

That being said, the screen is a play Kendall Fuller has blown up since week 1.  If they try it again, it will be in an effort to set up something over top like this slant (the underneath route isn’t a bubble, but same concept):

 

Key Matchups:

MONTAE NICHOLSON vs F*CK IT, I’M GOING DEEP

Trips formation puts us in a single high safety look which means Nicholson will have to win one-on-one matchups.  He is a rookie and you got 3 former quarterbacks on the coaching staff, I’d expect at least one or three deep shots thrown in his direction.

QUINTON DUNBAR vs PRESS COVERAGE AGAINST MEGATRONS

Dunbar has one thing he’s really good at, but I don’t think he’s faced guys this big on every snap.  It will be interesting to see if he keeps pressing at the line or backs off and lets his off-coverage skills do the work.

Three Predictions

  • McClain or Francis (they signed him for a specific reason) wins the Jonathan Allen job in our Nickel front
  • Nicholson gives up one big play
  • Wentz eludes 3 sacks.  Gruden loses his mind, anoints him the GOAT.

Skins 24-20, IF Breeland (or Norman?) starts.

Elsewhere

FFODC Previews the 49ers

WHAT Skins (2-2) vs 49ers (0-5)
WHERE FedEx Field, Hyattsville, MD
WHEN Sunday, Oct 15th 1:00 PM ET
THE LINE Skins -11 (O/U: 46.5)
TV FOX
WEATHER  H: 82(wtf!), L: 51, Partly Cloudy

The Men of Shanahan along with familiar faces Aldrick Robinson, Logan Paulsen and Pierre Garcon invade FedEx field equipped with an offense that a lay person watching next to you would find familiar if they watched the Skins play between 2010-2013; mainly running sideways 20 times a game and occasionally faking you out with a bootleg that goes the opposite way.  I mean it’s Shanahan’s offense.  You know what’s coming.

Run Defense Vs the 49ers

The Cardinals run a 3-4 front similar to ours, it’s a front that should get a lot of use on Sunday since Shanahan likes to deploy a fullback on the regular.  The backside backer (labeled as the would be “Zach Brown”)  has 3 guys in front of him: 2 biggins and an OLB and they will absorb blocks from the LT, LG and Center.  Next to the backside backer is the playside backer (lined up toward the TE).  Notice he’s a few steps in front, closer to the line.  That would be Mason Foster/Martrell Spaight.  Foster loves to creep up to the line when he smells outside zone coming, and lots of outside zone is coming.  Playside backers lined up like so will either beat their block or kamikaze into the line and take an OL with him.  With guys all around him absorbing blocks, Zach Brown should be free to roam and MAKE PLAYS as the studio suits like to say.

One note of caution: outside zone runs tend to induce lots of flow going in one direction, so if the RB wants to cut it back, or the QB is running play action, Brown needs to keep up.

Key Matchup: Zach Brown vs FLOW.

If he can keep his momentum in agreement with his eyes, Brown could be in for a 15+ tackle game.  If the Niners want to change up formations and run away from him, then the onus falls on Foster and Spaight, both of whom have shown to be beasts against the run.

FB Kyle Juszczyk #44

Shanahan doesn’t outfit a roster without finding guys who can do one thing really well: block outside zone.  He’s found a couple of them in rookie TE George Kittle (best said in a Norm MacDonald voice) and FB Kyle Juszczyk.  They might not do much well but they can do that one thing really well.  In the above clip you can see how quickly the FB is able to process what’s in front of him and adjust.  The guy he was going to block before the snap was lined up to the outside.  After the snap he jumps inside a full gap and the FB doesn’t even stutter for a second.  He adjusts his path to the line and gets inside leverage for a kick out block to open up the hole.  That might not sound or look like much–about 3 yards–but it makes it a viable run on 1st and 2nd down, and the play action off of that run (shown later in this preview) is deadly since linebackers have to come crashing down into the line to take on the lead blocker, voiding a ton of space behind them.

Key Matchup:  INSIDE BACKERS vs Kyle Shanahan accredited outside zone blockers.

Rookie TE Kittle is joined by a familiar face in Logan Paulsen who made a name on the skins roster a few years back by being able to kick guys out at the end of the line of scrimmage.  With the big guys in the middle occupied by zone combo blocks and defensive ends chasing runs from behind, Spaight, Foster and Brown will all have to find ways to get off of blocks and stop RB Carlos Hyde before he can add acceleration to the mass part of his equation.  FWIW, LG Brandon Fusco (#63) struggles to track  down guys at the second level, so that could be a favorable matchup for us.

Pass Defense Vs the 49ers

If there was a game for Josh Norman to sit out and get healthy, this is it.

Swag, baby.

On field play from their signal caller has been erratic at best, as Brian Hoyer is prone to lock onto a guy whose covered and leave other guys open without a catch:

Continue reading FFODC Previews the 49ers

FFODC Previews The Chiefs

WHAT Skins (2-1) vs Chiefs (3-0)
WHERE Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
WHEN Monday, Oct 2 8:30 PM
THE LINE Skins +7
TV ESPN
WEATHER H: 86, L: 70  Mostly Sunny

 

Head man Andy Reid, OC Matt Nagy, and former OC Brad Childress share seven decades of play calling experience between them and all those offensive neurons come together to form a grab bag of philosophies including but not limited to option, west coast and spread.

On the personnel side, Kansas City outfits a roster with two 6’7 tight ends, each at a lanky 230 pounds.  They also deploy a WR corps with three guys listed at 5’9, 5’9, and 5’10 who play all the skill positions.  They are rolling with a perimeter that values speed and length over power and size.  Plus there is Kelce.

Put that scheme and personnel together and out comes the #1 ranked offense in DVOA through 3 weeks and a rushing attack that leads the NFL with 6.8(!) yards per attempt.

Run Defense vs the Chiefs

Instead of asking those lanky and smurfy perimeter guys to block, KC would rather read the defensive ends on short yardage:

This personnel in a nutshell: instead of wear you down, they force you to make a choice.  Then they out-athlete you with speed and length.  Their success stems from freezing contain and doubling the interior lineman to the inside backers.

Continue reading FFODC Previews The Chiefs

FFODC Previews Oakland

WHAT Skins (1-1) vs Raiders (2-0)
WHERE FedEx Field, Hyattsville, MD
WHEN Sunday, Sep 24th 8:30 PM  ET
THE LINE WASH: +3
TV NBC
WEATHER H: 89, L: 66, Partly Cloudy

Offensive coordinator Todd Downing got his start in the NFL coaching gunslinger Matt Stafford en route to franchise passing records for yards (5,038), touchdowns (41), passer rating (97.2) and completion percentage (63.5).  His next stop was Buffalo where he tried to turn around the careers of EJ Manuel and Kyle Orton with middling results that hit their respective ceilings.  He now finds himself back in a QB room with a gunslinger in David Carr who he helped mold into the Raider’s first Pro Bowl quarterback since Rich Gannon in 2002; no small feat that earned him Pro Football Focus’ Quarterback Coach of the Year.  He’s coupled that with a bruising run game that ranks top 5 in the league.  Good hire?  Good hire.  Good enough to take down our revamped defense?  We’ll see.

Run Defense vs Oakland

Don’t be fooled by the highlight packages that would have you believe this offense’s bread is buttered by an aerial attack; yes they will throw it, but Oakland is a team that currently puts out a top 5 rushing attack averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 144 yards per game.  It’s a rushing attack that statistically mirrors ours but with a more unorthodox approach.  Their goto formation is the Bunch (above) and it  can create advantages in the run game:

  • Tight splits from TE and WR make for a short edge, which lets runs hit outside quickly
  • Defenses will overload to the Bunch side, leaving defenders spread out to the weak side
  • Receivers in the bunch have favorable blocking angles

Our edge guys might see a little frippery as WR Cordelle Patterson has lined up in the backfield on toss plays, but outside of that it’s Marshawn Lynch and inside zone.  Oakland’s inside runs out of Bunch places defenses into well defined zone blocks before the snap.  We could combat that with Zach Brown who thrives at confusing blockers in the open field, but next to him will be either an injured Foster or slow reacting Will Compton, either of which could be catching blocks at the second level.

The Raiders do not have a single Guard or Tackle weighing below 328 pounds.  In between that is an agile 300 pound Center who might not dominate at the line, but can get after it in open space.  His run blocking is the inverse of the guys flanking him on either side.  The 330 pound behemoths can push the line at the first level, but they struggle in the open field against athletic linebackers: Zach Brown could have a day.

Versus our Nickel Front:  We line up over the guards to take away outside runs and Kerrigan and Smith are more than capable at setting the edge against any TE and Tackle group; combine that with the Raiders penchant for pounding Marshawn Lynch up the middle and it looks like Inside Zone will be the scheme of choice.

Versus our 3-4:  Against heavier formations involving multiple tight ends, our 3-4 personnel would place Ryan Anderson and Junior Galette as the edge defenders and could put us on shaky ground.  Anderson has shown he struggles to hold the edge, any signs of that tonight would lead to Preston Smith taking extra snaps.  On the interior, 5 tech Stacy McGee whose main asset seems to be his weight, will be tasked with lining up across from guys just as big (ex: Donald Penn 6-4 340.)  If they run outside zone away from McGee, cutback lanes could open up.  If they try to hit us with runs outside, this is the formation to try it against.

Between Anderson and McGee, Oakland could be looking at 2 potential mismatches with our 3-4 that tips in their favor.  I bet one dollar we see the Raiders come out in multiple TE formations more than they normally do.

Key Match Ups:  Ziggy Hood and Stacy McGee vs STAYING AT THE LINE and INSIDE BACKERS vs C Rodney Hudson.  McGee and Hood getting dominated would cause the dominoes to fall and we could be in for a long night with methodical runs setting up Cooper and Crabtree downfield.  Tomsula has improved technique inside but this will be the (literally) strongest test they face.

As of this writing Mason Foster is ‘questionable’ to start and has been limited in practice all week.  His backup, Will Compton, might be a liability.  Zach Brown has the speed and ability to mess with blocking schemes and that could pave the way to double digit tackles; hopefully close enough to the line of scrimmage so as to not have the chains reset.

Pass Defense vs Oakland

Oakland is currently 5th in Yards Per Attempt (8.2) in no small part thanks to their run game.  Out of that same Bunch formation they will hit play action with one of the 3 receivers running a Y-Cross behind the linebackers.  It’s usually open.

Another reason for that lofty YPA is David Carr not flinching at sideline throws.  He will test outside coverage with hitches against Cover 3 corners (think Cousins to DeSean last year) and back-shoulders against man-to-man, his accuracy is on point, drops from Amari Cooper have been the biggest roadblock.  I’m not sure if Carr’s DGAF meter is set to ‘attack Josh Norman’ but I would expect Breeland to see plenty of action come his way.

They also like to run 3×2 empty formations (above.)  To the 2-man side they run man-beater routes while to the 3-man side they like to run zone beaters (ex: corner routes vs Cover 2.)  The whole field is an option as Carr utilizes the middle of the field if you zone it off, and will hit outside if you play man defense.

Good news is their 330+ pound tackles are susceptible to speed rushes and twists.  Allen has shown to be a handful when twisting inside and Kerrigan still keeps a speed rush rip move in his arsenal.  The front 4 needs to get after it because when we blitz our zone drops leave us vulnerable in coverage.

Key Match Up:  David Carr vs FIND YOUR ZONE.  Goff bailed us out last week, we should not expect Carr to play as nice.  Main culprits in zone busts come from Foster, Brown and safety play.  The less blitzing we do, the less confused they seem to be.

3 Meaningless Predictions

  • An uncovered zone cedes 6 points in the first quarter.
  • Preston Smith gets reinserted into the 3-4.  Galette gets more snaps.
  • Jonathan Allen is the set up man in twists that get to Carr; leads to a turnover.

Skins 24-20.