Look at This Huge Pocket Vick Had, and Other Eagles’ Observations on Offense

Look at This Huge Pocket Vick Had, and Other Eagles’ Observations on Offense

If you’re hoping to learn more about Chip Kelly’s offense, there are plenty of valuable resources out there that can explain it better than I can. If you’ve already been exposed to Chip when he was at Oregon, earlier we linked to Smart Football’s piece on what coach brought to the NFL in his preseason debut versus the Patriots on Friday.

If like a lot of Eagles fans you’re new to Chip, here’s a great place to start: FishDuck’s tutorial to the inside zone read, a staple of the offense. They do a lot of this, minus the quarterback taking off (only Matt Barkley performed a keeper against New England), so if you haven’t been learning on your own already, now is a good time start brushing up.

Here’s an excerpt from the Smart Football look at how the Eagles used the inside zone read against the Pats.

Although Kelly's version of the inside zone is typically associated with the read-option element he often added to it at Oregon, against the Patriots, Philadelphia almost never asked its quarterback to read a defender and decide whether to hand off or run it on an inside zone. (Of the Eagles' top three quarterbacks, only Matt Barkley ended up with a keeper on the inside zone read.) Instead Kelly relied on other complementary tactics to make the play go. The first was his other bread-and-butter inside run, power, which asks the linemen on the play side to block down and double-team the defensive linemen, while a backside guard pulls around and leads up on the linebacker.

Kelly has long added a misdirection element to his version of power by offsetting the running back to the side the play is headed. By doing this, Kelly's power, with its down blocks and the runner crossing in front of the quarterback, looks to the defense exactly like his inside zone, only going the other way. That is until the pulling guard appears, and then it's too late. Oregon dropped 47 points on a USC defense orchestrated by current Seattle head coach Pete Carroll with this simple adjustment.

There was one aspect of the offense I wanted to highlight myself though, and that is how nice it was to have most of the offensive line intact. Jason Peters didn’t suit up for the first game, but it didn’t seem to matter. Save for one breakdown when Nick Foles was in the game, the unit protected both quarterbacks well. Just look at the pocket Vick had to step into on his 47-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson.

When’s the last time No. 7 looked that comfortable? He’s standing perfectly upright, not looking to escape. He has space to step into his throw without worry or care, and as a result is able to deliver a perfect strike for six points. With a healthy line, and an experimental scheme, it would appear the Birds’ offense is in store for a big season – I’m starting to believe regardless of who is under center.

RISING/FALLING

Michael Vick

Hey, Nick Foles played well (minus a fumble that wasn’t all his fault), but Vick hit the big play. Few quarterbacks throw the deep ball as well as the four-time Pro Bowler. Had ice water running through his veins on third-down conversion before that, and made the right read. Underthrew one pass, but 4/5 for 96 yards and a score in two series is tough to beat.

Jason Avant

Same old Jason Avant. Had three catches, all for first down, two of them on third down. Good for 42 yards total. Reliable as always, and seems to have no trouble finding open space in Chip’s scheme.

DeSean Jackson

Haven’t talked about him much, but DeSean is having a great camp. That carried over into the preseason with a 47-yard bomb against Aqib Talib. Jackson has been doing that sort of thing pretty much every day in practice, and he seems primed for a big year.

Todd Herremans

Not sure his stock is falling as much as he had one bad night. Missed a block pulling out in front of Chris Polk that resulted in the run to get stuffed. Worse, missed a block that allowed a rusher to get a free shot at Nick Foles, resulting in a fumble. Nothing but quality otherwise, but that turnover was huge.

Lane Johnson

Strong debut for the fourth-overall pick in the draft. Looked like he belongs. Wasn’t confused out there. Put a hat on somebody on every play, and didn’t get beat. Is still a little more natural run blocking, even getting out to the second level on a few occasions, but held his own in pass protection. Impressive start for the big man.

Clay Harbor

With all the emphasis we’ve placed on tight ends during the offseason, who would’ve thought Clay Harbor would be the one to wind up in here? Had more yards (47) on his three catches than all other tight ends on the team combined (41 on eight receptions). All three catches went for first downs, including a conversion on 3rd and 20. Apparently he’s Matt Barkley’s security blanket.

Felix Jones

Never mind that he’s been stuffed at the bottom of the depth chart. Dropped two passes on Friday that were right in his hands, just a lack of concentration. Ran hard, but not extremely well, carrying eight times for 31 yards. Played behind second- and third-string offensive line, so hard to judge, but hasn’t stood out this summer.

MIXED REVIEWS

Bryce Brown

Brown had a strong night running the football, rushing five times for 22 yards and a touchdown – much better than Chris Polk, who was ineffective on four carries for seven yards. But where Polk still had an edge was pass protection. Polk had a key block on Vick’s touchdown pass, whereas there were a couple times it appeared Brown should’ve thrown a block, but was out of position or left the backfield early. Amazing pure talent, still rough around the edges.

Brent Celek

First of all, Celek was the starting tight end. The Eagles didn’t use a ton of two tight end sets early on, and he got the nod with the starters. He also proved to be more valuable than many of us realized, as it turns out he’s the emergency long snapper – albeit not a very good one. Had only two catches for 10 yards though, and big minus, he fumbled once. Not a great outing, but shouldn’t diminish his role.

Matt Barkley

Great, Barkley eventually led a scoring drive on his sixth series. Got more comfortable as the game went on. Earlier he threw into coverage a bunch. Some of his balls seemed to lack zip, wobbled. Finished 11 for 22, 103, TD. Granted Barkley was playing with backups, but Foles looked better in the preseason last year. Not close to winning the starting quarterback job, that’s for sure.

Watch Ben Simmons rainbow kick his way into your hearts

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Watch Ben Simmons rainbow kick his way into your hearts

Lately, you've heard and read a lot about potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and how he could be a Sixer soon. And you're going to hear and read a ton more about potential No. 1 pick Ben Simmons and how he could be a Sixer soon for the next three weeks and change.

But who cares about hearing and reading about him when we can actually watch him do some cool stuff instead?

Simmons posted the following video to his Twitter and Instagram accounts earlier on Sunday.

A lovely little strike on the pitch right past the keeper, something, something, Wayne Rooney, Leo Messi, Ronaldo's abs. That's the extent of my soccer knowledge. Though a guy who told me he knows some about soccer (I'll take his word for it) said that move is called a "rainbow kick." That sounds good. Let's go with that.

Simmons even tagged Messi in the Instagram vid. No response yet, though.

I like to think I know a little more about basketball than I do about soccer, so that swish after the rainbow kick was pretty nice.

I'm not sure how foot-eye coordination translates to NBA success. But seeing as how traveling doesn't really exist in the NBA anyway, maybe Simmonds can get away with it.

Oh, wait, I've got an idea: Imagine he and Jo-Jo, who likes himself some futbol, kicking it up the court then finishing it off with the rainbow-kick alley oop.

Yeah, that's the good stuff.

Sixers to host 6 more prospects for pre-draft workouts Monday

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Sixers to host 6 more prospects for pre-draft workouts Monday

After attending private, agency-run pre-draft workouts, the Sixers will host six players Monday at their practice facility for more workouts.

Joel Bolomboy, James Webb III, Tim Quarterman, Brannen Greene, Danuel House and Isaiah Taylor are all members of the third group of prospects to participate in team-run workouts in Philadelphia.

Bolomboy, a power forward, averaged 17.1 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks his senior season at Weber State.

Quarterman entered the draft following his junior year at LSU, where he played with Ben Simmons. The point guard averaged 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last year in Baton Rouge.

Webb, a forward, left Boise State following his sophomore year. He averaged 15.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals last season.

Greene declared for the draft after his junior year at Kansas. The guard averaged 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 49.2 percent from three last season for the Jayhawks.

House, a guard, transferred from the University of Houston to play his junior and senior seasons at Texas A&M. He posted 15.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists last season.

After three seasons at Texas, Taylor, a point guard, declared for the draft. He averaged 15.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists this past season while helping the Longhorns reach the NCAA Tournament.

The Sixers hold the first, 24th and 26th picks in the draft, which takes place on June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Simmering issue: Pete Mackanin says he will continue to trim Ryan Howard's playing time

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Simmering issue: Pete Mackanin says he will continue to trim Ryan Howard's playing time

CHICAGO – The Ryan Howard drama continues to simmer.
 
Howard’s dwindling production has led to dwindling playing time. He did not start against a right-handed pitcher for the second time in eight days on Sunday (see game recap).
 
After the game, manager Pete Mackanin addressed the uncomfortable situation and said he would continue to trim Howard’s playing time against right-handers because he wants to look at Tommy Joseph, who has 10 hits, including three homers and a double, in his first 35 big-league at-bats.
 
“We brought Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him,” Mackanin said. “I can’t let him stagnate on the bench like (Darin) Ruf ended up doing, so he’s going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing. I don’t know when the next time we’re going to face a left-handed pitcher is, but I’m going to use (Joseph) a little bit more often than I did Ruf.”
 
Since the end of last July, Howard has gone from being a full-time player to a platoon guy, facing just righties. Now, he’s migrating toward more of a reserve role.
 
Taking away playing time from a club icon – Howard is a former NL MVP and World Series champion -- is not easy, but Mackanin has little choice. Howard is hitting .154 with eight homers and 18 RBIs in 136 at-bats over 44 games. He has struck out in 33 percent of his plate appearances. Howard’s average for the month of May is .097 (6 for 62) and he has 25 strikeouts. He recently used the word “brutal” to describe how the month of May has been going.
 
Mackanin was asked about Howard’s mindset in relation to losing playing time.
 
“I don’t know how he feels,” Mackanin said. “I’m sure we’ll talk to him and we’ll go from there. The important thing is that we brought Joseph up here to get a look at him, and as I said, if he sits on the bench for a week or 10 days and we don’t get a look at him, what’s the point of bringing him up?”
 
Howard started Saturday against Cubs’ righty Kyle Hendricks and went hitless.
 
After Sunday's game, Howard was asked if he was surprised to see he was not in the lineup.
 
“I guess, yeah,” he said. “But I don’t make the lineup. The manager makes the lineup. I just show up. If I’m in there, I’m in there, if I’m not, I’m not."
 
Howard said he was unaware of Mackanin’s intention to sit him more against righties.
 
“I haven’t heard anything about sitting more against righties,” he said. “I haven’t been called into the office and talked to about it, so you guys apparently have breaking news before I do.”
 
Howard's status in the lineup and with the team has been an issue for almost two years. Before the 2015 season, former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted it would be best if Howard moved on. The Phillies tried to trade him last year, but there was no interest. 

Howard is in the final year of a five-year, $125 million contract that did not kick in until after he suffered a devastating Achilles tendon rupture on his final swing of the 2011 season.
 
He is still owed more that $26 million in salary for 2016 and an option year buyout for 2017.

Howard isn't walking away from that kind of money.

Would the team release him to solve this uncomfortable situation? Or will it ride out the final four months of the season and the contract with Howard as a part-time player?

Time will tell.