The one criticism that the Eagles have faced all year is swing passes. Chip Kelly just really seems to like screens, sweeps and swing passes..especially on first downs. But teams began to figure this out and after a few near-misses with opposing defenders ending up inches away from an interception..Kelly may have finally found a way to utilise these short passes..by not throwing the pass in the first place.
As Fran Duffy highlights in this play against Buffalo, the Eagles have began to send the running backs out wide fully knowing that they’re going to attract attention so that they can open up holes down the field. This play to Ertz is a prime example as he is able to dip into a hole and pick up what becomes an easy throw for Bradford.
— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) December 15, 2015
A similar scenario happened later in the game. Darren Sproles attracted his man to cling close, ran out wide which opened up a triangular space over the middle which became a no-mans land. Matthews was on the inside, ran straight over it allowing Bradford to dink a pass over the top and pick up 11 yards..the play did come back for an illegal use of hands but we will excuse the lack of discipline this one time.
It seems to be a recurring theme as you delve deeper into the game tape. This isn’t exactly a new tactic as many will be quick to point out but it’s working beautifully because of how predictable this Chip Kelly Offense has become this year. It’s almost as if Chip is now using that to punish opposing Defenses and create acres of space downfield. It’s also no coincidence that in the last two games this has been present that Bradford has been heralded as a player in the prime of his career.
The same triangular space continues to open as running backs attract defenders to stick to them like glue. Why? Because the moment you let off the gas pedal and you leave a Darren Sproles or a Ryan Mathews type back open on the outside you’re just setting yourself up for trouble. So it’s almost as if Defenses are stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The final picture we’re going to show is interesting. The triangle again opens up but instead Bradford goes for a mirror pass of what handed Nelson Agholor his first career touchdown. It almost worked but was just out of reach for Ajirotutu. The point is that the two linebackers were so distracted in thinking a ball was coming over the middle or to the left hand side that they allowed two receivers to run directly past them. This actually opened up one-on-one coverage..and Bradford went for that instead of the easy short pass. Why?
- It’s a misfit to an emerging patten so the Bills would overlook this mythical “triangle”.
- It shows huge confidence in Bradford to now throw dimes deep down the field more consistently.
- It shows trust in his receiver to beat his cover.
So what have we learned? Swing passes appear to be a dying art for the Eagles..but the effect they have on Defenses is an emerging revolution. Chip Kelly may appear to seem reluctant to change things up..but the reality is he has been..people just aren’t paying attention.