Turns out the “Doug Pederson used to coach in Kansas City” angle was underplayed.
The Eagles’ starters put up 44 points Sunday against the league’s best defense, a unit that Pederson had to face twice a year from 2013 to 2015.
And while the Broncos’ coaching staff is different in 2017, a lot of the players on the field are not. Von Miller, Brandon Marshall, Chris Harris and Aqib Talib were all part of the Super Bowl winning squad that split against the Chiefs when Doug P was in his third and final year as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator.
Denver lost 29-19 in Kansas City last Monday, and a lot of the concepts executed by Alex Smith in that game popped up in the Eagles’ 51-23 win yesterday afternoon.
The first was the run/pass option, which the Eagles used successfully on the opening drive touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery:
Pederson elaborated on that play with a couple of post game quotes:
“It’s a read option, read the defensive end. It just so happened we were on the right hash. I think [Broncos OLB] Von [Miller] was over there and we knew their D-end was closed a little bit. It’s just something that we build into that play. It’s something that we’ve — it’s a Day-One-training-camp, Day-One-OTA play. And it’s just a one-step hitch-and-go, and we got 21 to bite on the play. Did a great job throwing the ball on the run and Alshon getting in the end zone.”
“…it’s been in our playbook. It’s actually in our tempo package and we pulled it out this week. Just kind of dusted it off and worked on it all week and executed it to perfection.”
This is what he’s talking about, with Jeffery squared up to the line and helping to sell the play-action:
Hitch and go!
Carson Wentz said this about the call:
“It was just a zone-read play with that little tag to Alshon there. We knew Talib is an aggressive corner, so with that action I just knew I had to get enough time to let Alshon win, and he did the rest.”
The Chiefs had similar success using RPO against Denver last week:
Option the hand off, roll the quarterback, find the tight end in space.
It’s really not much different from what they did on the Jeffery touchdown, it’s just being run to the other side of the field with the tight end peeling off a block.
Again, Wentz just reads the defensive end, rolls out a bit, and gives Celek time to get his head turned and hit the open space:
Two teams, same concept, different wrinkles, with Kansas City holding two receivers to block for Travis Kelce. The Birds’ design has Torrey Smith clearing that left flank and Brent Celek has room to run for 8 yards after the catch. In both cases you’re just reading the end and optioning with the quarterback tossing it on the run.
The other play the Birds borrowed from the Chiefs was a speed option from pistol formation.
They used it for the first time this season on a Corey Clement touchdown run:
Two quotes from Pederson on this one, the first from Sunday, where he specifically mentions the Kansas City film:
“Again, same thing (as the RPO). Take advantage of their defensive ends and those outside LBs. Actually we kind of got the idea from Kansas City on Monday night. They did the same thing. Carson’s very athletic to do it. Corey did a great job. And again, it was on the right hash, exactly what we wanted and credit to our guys for the execution…”
And the second quote from Monday’s availability:
“You see it a couple times on tape, and then you try to make sure first of all it fits who you are and the type of guys that you have, whether it be your quarterback or your runners. As I mentioned after the game, it was just something that we happened to be on the right hash, and it was set up perfectly for that. It was one of our low, red zone plays anyway down there. So well-executed. Just like the read to Alshon, those are plays that you have to rep about two, three, four times a week and make sure you get that timing down. Because you don’t just roll out of bed and run those plays. You have to work at it. The guys did a great job, great execution.”
Here’s the video that they studied from the Kansas City game:
A 13-yard gain for the Chiefs.
This is what Wentz said about the play:
“The speed option? That was part of the plan. We practiced that a little bit in training camp, but not a lot. This week we got some good reps at it, and it worked out.”
And a follow-up question, asking whether he saw something with the defensive ends that he could take advantage of on that play:
“Yeah, just the way [the Broncos] set their front and down in the low red zone with the way they call their defense. We knew to just read it and make the right read, and it would be a touchdown.”
Here’s the right read:
Clement also touched on the speed option, explaining that he was the primary target on all three of his touchdowns:
“All of them I was the first option. When we ran the option down at the goal line, I was just waiting for Von Miller to crash inside and Carson was going to pitch it out. It is kind of a two-way go; whether Carson was going to score or I was going to score.”
Kansas City executed in the exact same way, with Miller bearing down on the quarterback and forcing the pitch:
In both cases, Denver had nobody to account for the running back. It’s worth noting the Chiefs just played the Cowboys, so we’ll see what Pederson can do with that video during the bye week.
Doug P, coach of the year?
Might be down to him and Sean McVay, at least through Week 9.