The day the Eagles hired Chip Kelly was the day my reading about the spread offense went from "everything Chris Brown writes" to "everything I could get my hands on."
One of the amazing things about hiring Chip Kelly, at this moment in time, is just how much analysis has been done on his methods and his madness. We have Fishduck, coaching clinic transcripts, still Chris Brown, and even the first chapter of the Eagles Almanac, in which Mike Tanier take readers through the foundational plays of the Kelly spread.
So why, you might ask, did I log in here to add my two cents?
Reason #1: I have some cool stuff to show.
Reason #2: As the year goes on, if the plan holds up, I'll have a lot more to show.
Here's the thing, play diagrams are great. And videos of Chip's Oregon teams running his offense are extremely helpful, but sometimes I find that it's all easier for me to process if I'm more familiar with the players involved. When #69 ends up all the way over there on an Oregon run play, that doesn't mean much to me. When I see the play's over and Evan Mathis is way outside the right hash, that stuff jumps out.
And here's the other thing, a lot of the base plays in the Kelly offense ... for two years we've been running them. Our quarterbacks generally handed off rather than reading the defense, but the day Andy Reid brought in Howard Mudd to coach the offensive line was the day the Eagles became primarily an inside/outside zone running team.
So let's take a look at some of those plays.
Outside Zone (Read)
If you're truly starting from scratch, watch this video from the guys at FishDuck. It's very well done, just ignore the obsolete stuff about pre-snap running back alignment and the persistent homerism.
So how does that look when the Reid Eagles ran it? Here's one example from last year:
But wait, you say, that run didn't go outside, why are you calling it an outside zone?
Watch the center, Dallas Reynolds. He goes horizontal for as long as possible before seeking out the linebacker and letting Dion Lewis read off his block. Contrast that with an inside zone play where he's climbing to the second level almost immediately to get that linebacker:
Going back to the outside zone for a moment, notice two other things:
1) Nick Foles makes the right "read" even though he wasn't reading anything. The DE came at him and not down the line, so he handed off.
2) Evan Mathis. It's that block right there that makes the outside zone so nasty. Everyone else is flying across the field and he's turned his guy and is standing there like a stone wall. Next thing you know, the hole is 10 yards wide and that linebacker has no chance. (Dunlap has a nice block too.)
Here's another outside zone from that same Redskins game:
Notice what Washington does right before the snap. The weakside linebacker comes around the defensive end, which is one way to mess up the quarterback's read. (Smart Football article with much more on the "scrape exchange.") And then on the other side, the DE jumps outside and seals the edge.
The inside linebacker is also playing deeper than normal, something else Chip Kelly has seen before. (Seriously, just click all the links in this post.)
Inside Zone (Read)
Again, starting with the Fishduck video:
[I've been persuaded by the comments to take a second look at this one and agree it's also an outside zone. The defense discussion stays the same, however.]
I showed one inside zone run above. Here's another, less successful one:
Notice again the way the Redskins are screwing with us. The two play-side linemen slant inside at the snap, while the linebacker fills the spot they vacated. The whole blocking scheme is messed up, as Reynolds blows past the DT and Mathis races to the second level to block a vanishing linebacker.
The Redskins may not have the best defense of our divisional opponents, but given the experience they have facing this stuff all the time in practice, I expect they'll be the best prepared for whatever craziness Kelly tries to unleash.
Finally, here's another variation of the zone, using "pin and pull" blocking:
Brown fumbled on the end of this play, but the really gross part is whatever Reynolds and Dunlap are doing over there on the left. That's the stuff I expect Chip to clean up this year.
Note also that Foles is carrying out his play fake, but if he'd really been reading that end -- and if he had the speed to execute the read option -- he'd have tucked it and gone once that guy crashed hard inside.
We'll be seeing these plays again this year, over and over and over and ...