By Jack Sitt
The Eagles will go to Washington on Sunday with Nick Foles as their starting quarterback. Sitting at 3-6, the Eagles would probably have to win out to save their season and the job of Andy Reid. I have my doubts as to whether Foles can save the season, but a win against the Skins would not hurt their chances. This is what the Eagles have to do this Sunday to put Foles in a position to succeed.
- Throw Hook routes.
Nick Foles seems to be very comfortable when he is throwing hook routes to his receivers. He excels with these types of throws because of the great arm strength that he has. Here is a good example of Foles utilizing his arm strength on a hook route to Jeremy Maclin: http://www.screenr.com/LRB7. I counted Foles completing 70 percent of his passes while throwing hook routes to his receivers this past Sunday.
- Get the slant pattern problems sorted out.
Nick Foles had problems completing slant routes against the Cowboys. It seemed like he often threw the ball behind his receivers on these types of routes. On one play it cost him a pix six by Brandon Carr. They additionally had problems on slants because his receivers were scared to go across the middle. It would be nice if they could get these problems sorted out because slant patterns are a good way of getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly.
- Don’t make the check down receivers your first option.
The Eagles call a nice cover two beater on this play. On the left side of the field, Jeremy Maclin (the outside receiver) runs a seam route and Lesean Mccoy runs a short hook out of the backfield. Mccoy gets open because Desean Jackson (the slot receiver) and Brent Celek attract the attention of the inside linebackers over the middle of the field. It is always nice to gain a few yards checking it down to the back, but Foles has to be more aggressive. Jeremy Maclin is able to run right by Morris Claiborne because Claiborne stays down to cover his flat zone assignment in the cover 2. As a result, Maclin is wide open, but Foles stays too conservative. Quarterbacks are only supposed to throw to their check downs when their primary receivers are covered (or when there is too much defensive pressure on them), but it seems like the check downs often became the first option for Foles. Check out the photo below of Maclin running open down the left sideline on this play.
- Occasionally block 6 or 7 guys to help protect Nick Foles.
The Eagles may be able to put up a few points while playing conservatively –running the ball and utilizing the short passing game. However, the reality of the situation is that they will have to mix in some explosive plays if they want to score enough points to win. They just cannot afford to play a conservative 49ers type offense because they do not have the defense to do it. And, if they want to create some explosive plays they will need some extra protection for Foles to give him the time to look down the field. Here was a good example of an explosive play from the Eagles last Sunday: http://www.screenr.com/ORB7. Bryce Brown stays in to block, and Foles has the time to find a wide-open Jeremy Maclin down the field. The free safety cheats his deep zone assignment to cover Celek on the post route and that leaves Maclin wide open over the top.
If the Eagles want to save their season, they will have to take it one game at a time. They will need to utilize these four keys to success to take care of business against Washington this Sunday.