Riley'strickplay

Expect the unexpected as Eagles move forward in 2014…

rolloutright

You think you’ve seen it all in the NFL over the years, and then (as it began in the featured photo above) the Eagles somehow pull off a “hidden Riley Cooper” trick lateral play on a kickoff which darn near worked except the cross-field lateral was ruled a forward pass.

That’s a play I never expected to see. But the Eagles had practiced that play for weeks before they put it in. None of us knew it was there in the game plan.

That’s just one example of why it’s way too early to think we as fans or writers can realistically get too excited about the glowing reports which came out of minicamp. What we think we have learned about the 2014 Eagles is still an evolving concept. It’s fun to project based upon what we have seen or heard so far, but cautious optimism is how the coaches approach it, always with the caveat “we have a whole lot of work ahead of us.”

Today I’m isolating on one basic offensive play which I feel safe in saying we can expect to see a lot more of in 2014. It’s the designed roll out to the right, and it will have a subset bootleg component to keep defenses more honest.

Nick Foles had some success rolling out to his right in 2013 (see GIF above). I thought they held back on calling the play more because of some concern about Foles’ mobility or throwing accuracy on the run. A lot of that former concern seems to have evaporated as Nick Foles has reported to OTA’s this year looking stronger and more mobile. His throwing arm is by all reports at least 5% stronger in velocity on his intermediate passes.

The real dividend of designed roll out plays is you can then fake a bootleg and actually get the defense to buy into the fake for a half-second. That’s all the time Shady McCoy needs to do what he does best—bust through an interior hole on the opposite side of the fake:

insideleftMcCoy

Nick Foles rolling out right and/or selling a bootleg fake? Nobody told us to expect that very much when Nick was promoted to QB#1 last season. But I expect that unexpected trend to develop in the Eagles 2014 offense.

Speaking of the unexpected, I never expected to see DT/DE Damion Square get trucked by a running back on a play last year, but it happened:

DamionSquaredestroyed

That’s not gonna happen in 2014. If Damion Square makes the Final 53, it will be because he has strengthened himself and improved his game technique so much that he will never be out of position like that again.

Depending upon whether the Eagles decide to keep a 6th linebacker or a 7th D-Lineman, Square is also going to have to beat out hungry guys like Brandon Bair, Joe Kruger or Travis Long for what amounts to the final spot on the roster. For me that would be an unexpected win for Square. But equally unexpected would be Damion Square’s giving up without a fight, and not having gained from a lot of “coaching up” in this offseason so far.

Other unexpected stuff is bound to happen, too, like injuries or the last-minute free agent waiver claim…or (gasp), a trade for a #1 wideout. But part of the fun of being an Eagles fan is watching that river flow. It is fed by many tributaries of fate and desire. Carry on…

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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