The Eagles ran a play tonight we've been expecting to see since the moment they hired Kelly. And it was beautiful.
It's a tough competition, but one of the best things Chris Brown's ever written was this Grantland piece on "packaged" plays. If you haven't read it yet, drop everything and do so now. But the overall gist:
[T]he idea of "packaging" multiple options for the quarterback based on the movements of defenders is not entirely new. But the trend of combining entirely different categories of plays — runs and passes, screens and passes, runs and screens — is new, and these ideas are at the forefront of thinking about football ...
And the play we're talking about here:
One of the most interesting packaged concepts — and the play that's helped many begin to rethink the very nature of a "football play" — is known as "stick-draw," which combines a delayed run, or "draw" play, with the "stick" quick-passing concept...
The combination of plays is designed to focus on a key defender. In this case, it's a linebacker, who stands as an unchecked threat to stop the draw and the quick inside pass route. One solution is the one Peyton Manning has made famous — calling an audible before the snap based on where that "key defender" lined up. The problem with that is we only care about what that defender does after the play begins. The better answer is to build the play itself around the key defender, and to read him. Enter the stick-draw.
Chris has a very good diagram there that I won't reproduce here. In real life, it looks kind of like this:
You'll notice there are five blockers facing six defenders in the box. One way to deal with that numbers disadvantage is by running one of the zone reads and using the quarterback to "block" an edge defender.
In this case, however, they're sticking the SAM on the horns of a dilemma. Tight end James Casey is going to run a "stick" route at him (shown above). If the linebacker ignores him, Foles takes the easy pitch and catch. If instead the LB steps outside to cover him, now it's five on five inside and Foles will hand off to Shady, as actually happened in this case (hover for motion):
The play doesn't actually work all that well. But that's because Kelce has a tough time getting off the nose to go grab the other LB. It worked just as designed up top.
The Eagles ran the same play again later in the game with Matt Barkley and Felix Jones. This time the SAM read pass all the way and the center was able to climb to the MIKE. Really pretty stuff:
And some great packaged play videos:http://smartfootball.com/offense/combining-quick-passes-run-plays-and-screens-in-the-same-play