In 2011, the Eagles were a very good short-yardage rushing team. They converted 67 percent of their "power" situations as defined by Football Outsiders:
Power Success: Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown. Also includes runs on first-and-goal or second-and-goal from the two-yard line or closer.
Which was good enough for a sixth-place ranking, even though they were the worst team in the league in percentage of runs stuffed in all situations.
That was one Jason Peters ago, however, and based on what we saw on one play Sunday, I'm thinking Marty's not feeling quite as confident about the smashmouth approach this year.
Here's the set-up, Eagles are at first and goal on the one yard line. Goal line package in, with a fullback, two tight ends, and an extra lineman (Demetress Bell at RT, pushing Herremans to the edge so he can be eligible to catch another touchdown pass).
You'll recall this is the play where Vick got tackled right after he made the snap. That happened because the Eagles are running an inside trap and the DT shot through to beat the block. Here's the blocking on that part:
Pretty straightforward. It's a little odd that Bell is the one executing the trap block, since he has to come over two gaps and Watkins is reaching for his man anyway, but that's not remotely the weirdest thing about this play. Here's the next piece:
So even though Mathis is staring right at Ray Lewis, he's not going to block him. He's instead headed inside for the other backer. Still not that weird.
Ok, now it's weird. Rather than Harbor and Dunlap sealing off their men on the backside of the play, they're both going to race to the edge like we're running an outside zone play. Hmm, so we only have one fullback, which guy will he choose to block?
That's right, neither of them. Havili and Vick are going to follow Harbor and Dunlap outside (in the alternate universe where Vick doesn't get tackled right away).
So if you're scoring at home, we're running at interior run play where we're going to miss the trap on the DT and leave the DE and Hall of Fame LB standing in the hole unblocked. Note for now Lewis' position. He has one foot in line with the G.
Right after the snap:
Everyone's moving the way we drew up. Knowing the run is headed in the direction of those red circles, it all looks kind of doomed, doesn't it? Check it out from the side:
But look what happens next:
Havili running wide side to the wide side manages to hold the DE for a beat and also starts to pull Lewis out of his gap. Before he had just one foot on the G, now it's his whole body.
At the handoff, Lewis is still moving that way, and what looked doomed before now looks like a hole even Tony Hunt could run through.
Because it's always fun watching Ray Lewis miss a tackle:
I truly hate NFL.com's approach to video highlights, but this is one where it's worth dealing with the annoying ads and clunky interface to watch it again. They even give an end zone replay at the end.
Lesson learned: why block one guy with your fullback when you can trick two into following him?