Welcome back to the Quadruple Option. It’s been a while. As always, we’re breaking down the complex game of football into the author’s four arbitrarily chosen points of focus.
1- Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy
I guess this is kind of cheating, but these two issues are definitely linked. Until Foles straightens out McCoy is still likely to struggle. Look at this piece by Bucky Brooks from NFL.com.
As he says, defenses are committing eight players in the box often. Even the best offensive lines are going to struggle to create leverage at the point of attack against defenses like that, if they don’t have to respect the quarterback as a rushing threat–and especially when they don’t have to respect him as a passing threat.
With Foles struggling to hit open receivers, there’s more incentive for defenses to leave defensive backs in man coverage with little or no safety help over the top. Receivers aren’t winning a lot of one-on-one battles, and when they are Foles isn’t hitting them consistently.
So, great. That’s a summary of the offense’s problems without getting into the offensive line, but what can the Eagles do to counteract this against the Giants?
Also illustrated in Brooks’ summary of what’s wrong with the Eagles’ offense is the note that corners are not respecting deep routes, because of Foles’ inaccuracy on them. Given that the Eagles have been stuck with a patchwork offensive line and those plays take longer to develop, Foles has been getting hit as he delivers those passes–and he’s struggled without pressure too.
Remaining committed to this could be a catastrophic idea, which is probably why I don’t coach football. However, I believe that sticking to double move and longer-developing routes could be the key to cracking the ceiling on the defenses the Eagles are facing right now. The Eagles should be able to catch Giants corners trying to jump shorter routes and cash in some bigger plays. If that happens, defenses will commit more defenders to the secondary, and it may in turn open up some running lanes for McCoy. Here’s hoping, anyway.
2- Inside Offensive Linemen
The Eagles run a lot of zone-read plays, which are very dependent upon the center and play-side guard generating push. David Molk and Matt Tobin have filled in about as well as can be expected, but they are a noticeable drop-off from Jason Kelce and Evan Mathis.
The most immediate solution to this would be Nick Foles keeping more often on zone-read plays. Molk and Tobin would likely handle themselves better against a defensive lineman or linebacker who is open to the idea of misdirection. At the moment, they’re facing guys who are fairly certain they know where the play is headed.
The other solution is being more creative with your blocking schemes on rushing plays; running more traps, isos, and stretch plays.
3- Defensive Backs vs Eli Manning
Malcolm Jenkins has been a vision since joining this team. There’s nothing bad to say about him. Nate Allen has been mostly fine this season. Brandon Boykin, slot corner extraordinaire, has also been fine. However…
The outside corners, Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher, have been miserable. I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done schematically to help them, but well, there they are.
Eli Manning has actually snuggled into Ben McAdoo’s west coast passing scheme quite well over the last few weeks. And, even though Eli Manning is known for committing some pretty awful turnovers, this is terrifying, so I’m going to stop talking about this.
4- The Collective and Fluctuating Psyche of Eagles Fans
This is going to be a weird night for everyone. The Eagles decided to have a black out, and are wearing black shirts and black pants for the first time in the team’s history. The last couple of times there were major uniform stories for the Eagles, it involved the Yellow Jackets and the brief return of Kelly Green. The yellow ones led Kevin Curtis to have his day in the sun. The KGs led to Kevin Kolb being concussed and Mike Vick leading an almost-comeback against the Packers. Weird uniform choices lead to weird things.
Meanwhile, if the Eagles lose this game, the coaching staff and the players go into the bye having to hear about blowing a prime opportunity to take some control in the division (Dallas will probably lose at Seattle, and obviously beating the Giants would be a leg up). Plus, if the struggles on offense continue, the existential terrors surrounding the fan base will continue.
Prediction: Eagles 31, Giants 24
This is probably just blind faith in Chip Kelly. However, this reminds me a lot of the Patriots-Bengals game last week. This team is probably sick of hearing/reading everything that’s been said about them this week. They are going to come out ready to hit something, and there’s value in that. The Giants have been providing a shocking amount of bulletin board material as well. There’s no better time for the offense to get going than this game.