Remember when the Eagles were known to be a not-so-good power running team? Since then, they have gone to a zone-blocking strategy with their offensive line, and it seems to be paying dividends.
I dug up an old article by Kevin Donovan from November of 2008 to illustrate the point. Donovan wrote this for the Examiner.com, and it was centered upon a TD catch by Todd Herremans which was achieved off a play designed to look like a power run formation, at 3rd-and-goal at the two-yard line against Seattle...
This memorable play involved the starting left guard (Todd Herremans, #76 at the time) lining up outside the starting right tackle and inside the third string tight end. Pretty uncommon formation.
But it was successful, Todd Herremans’ touchdown reception got a standing ovation from all the big boys who man the trenches. What’s even more impressive? He made the catch with a dislocated finger. Let’s break down what happened...
Herremans (76) is announced as an eligible receiver. He lines up next to Jon Runyan with Matt Schobel (89) to his right. The backfield is split with Dan Klecko (49) on the left and Correll Buckhalter (28) lined up deep on the right. Prior to the snap Klecko shifts to his right in front of Buckhalter.
At the snap Herremans blocks the defensive end in front of him, Schobel releases to the second level and engages a linebacker, Klecko takes two steps forward like he’s setting a lead block, and McNabb (5) and Buckhalter look to make the handoff.
Playfake! Klecko breaks off and runs a drag route a yard in front of the goal line. Schobel runs a parallel route at the back of the end zone. Herremans releases from his block, drives two steps forward, pivots, and gets the ball right in his numbers. Touchdown!
Although running a play like this was a sign that Andy Reid and Co. still could not figure out the power running game at that point, it was a good sign that they were willing to find ways to use this perceived weakness to manipulate a defense.
The Seahawks (and everyone else following the NFL) knew the Eagles were miserable in power run scenarios. On this play Seattle deploys a seven man defensive line, with two linebackers, and two safeties. Those defensive players face an odd heavy set with the additional lineman. Certainly they sense trickery afoot, with Herremans announced as eligible, but the formation still indicates a two-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust type play call. The Eagles sell the fake so well that literally every Seahawks defender is sprinting forward at the snap. By the time they see the fake handoff and Klecko leaking out into his route, Herremans is already turning to catch the pass that changed the game’s momentum.
Give the Eagles points for creativity and execution. By flaunting their weakness in a crafty formation and play, the offense turned a liability into an asset.
Jump to 2011 and 2012:
The old offensive line of the Eagles is gone except for Herremans, and the old OL prototype of massive pass-blockers who didn't execute power run plays is now replaced by smaller but faster guys. Of course, "small" is a relative term when you're comparing a 310-pound guy to a 340-pound guy. But hopefully you get the point.
So here's the new reality of the Eagles running game:
Historically, offensive line play in football involved one-on-one confrontations, with burly offensive linemen overpowering their defensive counterparts to open running lanes. Problem was, defensive linemen and some outside linebackers became as big and quick as the best of the traditional offensive linemen like Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas (See Exhibit "A", Haloti Ngata....) So teams without big, powerful offensive lines devised the zone blocking scheme to benefit smaller, more athletic linemen who can use speed and leverage to their advantage. When zone blocking, offensive linemen block gaps, or areas of the field between blockers, and not necessarily one specific defender. While individual schemes may vary, zone blocking relies on a few general rules...
In a zone blocking scheme, the offensive lineman's responsibilities change depending on whether he's covered (when a defender is lined up directly in front of him) or uncovered. A covered lineman still must block his assigned defender, just like in a traditional blocking scheme. However, because it's a zone, the offensive lineman blocks the gap on the play side. In other words, if the play calls for the run to go right, the lineman will step into the gap and block the right side of the defender, creating a seal.
If the offensive lineman is uncovered, meaning that no defender is in front of him, his job in a zone scheme is to slide into the play-side gap, secure the area, offer double-team assistance to his play-side teammate and then quickly move into the second level to engage any free linebackers or defensive backs. Uncovered offensive linemen, and the decisions they make, are critical to zone blocking success.
Zone blocking may be either inside or outside. In outside zone blocking, the offensive linemen try to gain leverage on the outside of the defender, forging a seal for the runner along the sideline. If defenders recognize the outside movement and overplay in that direction, the offensive linemen use the defender's momentum against him, driving him all the way to the sideline and opening a cutback lane for the runner.
Zone blocking also attempts to use the defender's momentum to create a cutback lane, except the designed hole falls between the tackle and guard and not outside the tackle. The same basic rules govern inside zone blocking, with the linemen double-teaming according to whether or not they're covered. The main difference in inside zone blocking is that the running back reads the outside hip of the play-side guard, ideally cutting the ball between the guard and tackle.
Zone blocking features a lot of double-team blocks, with an uncovered lineman stepping in to help his play-side teammate. When moving across to block the already engaged defender, the double-teaming lineman must block the defender above the waist. Cutting an engaged defender below the waist or knee can be extremely dangerous for the defender, creating an increased risk of injury. Because of the seriousness of the infraction, officials will call a chop block and penalize the offensive team 15 yards.
Okay, so zone-blocking has come to Philly and looks like it's here to stay. Hard to argue against it with the yardage Shady McCoy put up last season running with it. Obviously there's a lot of reading and smarts required of the offensive linemen in the new order. Just as important is the physical side of it: the slightly smaller, more agile and mobile big athlete with the long-distance runner's stamina to match
I'll be watching the Eagles draft with increased attention to the offensive linemen they may select. It appears the organization is committed to transforming into a zone-blocking running game. It is not a fad. Ask Arian Foster.
Personally I'll miss the blocks-of-granite drive-blocking lines of the Eagles' past...of the Antoine Davis mold (RT, '90's), and Lester Holmes (RG, '90's), guys like that who blocked straight ahead for power running backs like Ricky Watters. But those days of classic yet less-sophisticated defensive challenge are long past.
It took almost a decade to figure it out, but I believe the zone-block run philosophy is the new "power run" answer for the Eagles.
Jenkins restructuring means that his base salary this year goes from $2.75 millz to $820k...He retains the bonus so that still counts the same...Essentially we saved just shy of $2 millz in cap space...Not bad...
Welp... Hayneswerf has only played well in one scheme.... the Wide9. He's only played well under one coach... Wash. If we had to give the 100 millz... then I would have to think about it for a few days before deciding... but since he'd have to sign for damn cheap.... then why not? If he acts up... cut him. There is no reason to not give it a shot. And if for whatever reason he decided to play.... INSTANT SUPER BOWL CHAMPS!!!!!!!!!1111!1
FLF...dis is for youse, whenever you show up: http://gcobb.com/2012/02/20/keeping-desean-jackson-isnt-about-the-wr-its-about-the-qb/
Midnite in Paris started out well,..and then kinda pooped out. Still,..worfy of a watch,..better den 50:50,..by about 9%.
TBone and Jerky...I don't want to have to go out and say "You have no taste."...So I'm going to put it nicely: To each his own...
This Cullen deal is major ! And he really seems happy wiff it too ! So we gots Patty and Jenky, which is a Top Three 4-3 DT-duo in the league. It would be nice if Landri could be resigned, especsh if Antonio is a ?-mark.
But regardless, that shouldn't affect our draff plans. I still say,...if M.B. falls to us, we have to take him. But with Cullen here for a few years, I'd be less inclined to trade up much to get him,...unless the price isn't too high.
I like Washburn Our Dline has looked better than it has in a long time. But why do youse think that Jim is gonna be to hayneswerf what Cus was to Iron Mike or like Mickey was to Rocky. I don't get it. Haynsewerffless played great until he got his milz. He hasn't been we're 2 shits with three teams. Now impress me with the insight that making him an Eagle would turn his lazy ass around
I saw "Drive" last night and "50/50" the night before...Both pretty good flicks...Highly recommended...
Time for my 'Helmet' rant.
I think part of maturing / growing occurred this year for a few of our beloved Birds. Looked like they thought that just putting on that helmet and showing up was gonna get it. Once it became obvious that wasn't going to work the superstars (Vick, ASO, etc) started to play like they could just take the game over and win it all by themselves. Then the mistakes started flowing and it was MUCH more than just Vick, it was pretty much all of them.
HOPEFULLY this leason has hit home now and they all realize that it takes 11 helmets - all on the same page - to win.
Kind of saw that same thing with NO, San Fran and Green Bay (and did I mention San Diego?) - can't just expect to win - I don't think there is really that much difference anymore between a 4-12 team and a SB winner. Gotta all thump to the same beat.
@Blasphemizer That 2millz is going to Hayneswerf.
@TheGreatJB99 you gots rocks in yur head and tumors in yur nose.
@TheGreatJB99 16 backwards is 61,..order,.irrelevent,....MVP!!!<>>MVP....MVP!!!!!!..whoswiffve?
The stunt driver did a helluva job in that movie, I give whoever was the stuntman major props. Some sweet moves I have never seen before. @Blasphemizer
@Blasphemizer What made that movie good? I mean I like Ryan Goseling, and his acting was fine in that movie, but the story really left a lot to be desired imo. You are correct though, everyone has an opinion...
But man it would be nice if Antonio came back 100%. Don't forget how good he was before he got hurt. Many felt he was an unknown guy, playing at a Pro-Bowl level. Imagine his run-stopping ability, and Landri's pass rushing ability, as our # THREE AND FOUR D-TACKEL !!! NICE !
@Brozer8 We won't need to trade up for MB, he'll be there at #15, Kooklee won't though at least in my opeenion
@tboned208 It was ultra boring
Actually not worth "1" - in my opinion. Just saying - what's the risk?
Look at where he was.
1) Wash - was a bad fit before that even started - 3-4 and such. Also, and no disrespect to Coach Sha-Na-Na - the man 'don't look right'. Looks a little over baked. Fat Al wasn't the only one having issues.
2) NE - again the 3-4 AND there's no room for anybody to love anybody but Brady and Belechick. Bad place for a Man-Child.
3) Tampa - Fat Al actually looked pretty good until the great collapse - then everybody looked horrible. Fat Al was only here to fill in for McCoy anyway.
What would it hurt?
I'm done - got it off my chest. I'm way past boring with this.
@tboned208 He suks and he won't be an Eagles, no worries.
@Kenemeka And... my new avi? You'd like it too?
It's a picture of crazy Lurie with a beard: http://images.forbes.com/media/2009/09/02/0902_Jeffrey-Lurie_400x280.jpg
It says "Let The Spending Begin!!!"...I thought that with Jenkins' deal today, it was rather appropriate...
thought it was my new medications
I don't even think we'd need 2 millz for Hayneswerf... @TheGreatJB99
@briview WAshburn can do anything,.
IDK bro,....6'6 300 lb linemen, that can play multiple positions, and that are athletic, and have a quick first step, usually don't slide too far.
In fax,....I wouldn't be shocked, if we all got shocked, and his name was called earlier than any of the media-mocks are predickting. Like 8. Or 7. I wouldn't be shocked at all.
@Brozer8 I'd rather have him than Luke.
@Brozer8 Nope, I like Brokers
I didn't think you were a Brockers-boy. I thought you were a Keekley-boy, or Marcelus-boy ?
@Brozer8 Don't crap on my dreams