Eight Offensive Play-Calling Changes Andy Reid Should Consider for 2009

Leo PizziniAnalyst IJuly 6, 2009

In general, Andy Reid does a great job managing all of his duties as the Philadelphia Eagles' head coach and Head of Football Operations. He designs fantastic plays that underline his offensive creativity and has been outstanding in roster management. 

Eagles fans would still be very excited to see more back-to-basics fundamentals mixed in with the exotic play calling. The players on the roster should be expected to carry a heavy load with talent alone, and dominate by just playing hard-nosed football.

Here are eight things that Eagles fans just didn't get enough of in 2008.


8. Less Rotation and More Rhythm with the Receivers

McNabb has been regarded as a streaky quarterback, and to a large extent there is truth in that analysis. However, his consistency (like that of all quarterbacks) is predicated on the common understanding of expectation and improvisation between himself and the receivers.

In the darkest hours of the Eagles 2008 season (Baltimore and Cincinnati), Andy was feeling out his options at receiver and rotated receiving packages almost every drive.  McNabb was left with a less instinctual passing reaction, as he was not fully intonated with the offensive sets. 

Accordingly, he forced plays and suffered the consequences.


7. More Split-Backs

The Eagles have two backs with receiver-quality skills that can pick up blitzes, run routes under the coverage, and perform standard running back duties. They're the perfect compliment to the deep-threat receivers DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jeremy Maclin, Hank Baskett and Reggie Brown.

Split-back sets provided some of the best repeatable offensive plays in 2008. In Andy's scheme it's a perfect fit. 


6. Work McNabb into the Game Slowly

McNabb is a phenomenal quarterback, but he needs time to find his groove and Andy oftentimes just throws him to the wolves. He needs to get his feet comfortable and set in the pocket before he finds his touch.

Shorter quick passes to start the game and first-down running will help McNabb relax, find his rhythm, and then dissect the secondary.


5. More Pump-and-Go Option Routes

Every cornerback bites on a pump-and-go after getting drawn in on short curl routes and screen passes. If the corners and safeties don't start tightening their coverage on the short routes, the Eagles receivers are explosive enough to eventually break one of those plays or just systematically drive the field with quick short passes. 

A little more sandlot football will go a long way. McNabb plays his best when he is having fun. 


4. More Five-Yard Quick Slants and Short Curls

For a west coast offense, the Eagles don't run enough short plays to the receivers. I've seen too many first down pass attempts in the 15 to 20 yard range. The idea is to draw the coverage forward so McNabb can catch them playing tight, then go up top.

With the addition of Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles have three legitimate receivers that can take a five-yard completion and break it for a long score. Defenses can cover them long or short, but they can't do both.


3. Play Action Passing

This is a must. Opposing defenses don't fear the play action because the Eagles don't run enough on traditional running downs. Setting up play action with solid running behind their new mauling offensive line will draw the safeties forward and open up big play opportunities in the secondary.

McNabb executes a fantastic and under-utilized play action that could set up a quick dump-off pass out from the pocket, a roll-out pass, or a designed scramble to the sideline.


2. Give McNabb the Reigns in the Two-Minute Offense

With two minutes left, the offense needs to flow. Andy needs to trust his franchise quarterback to move the ball and pick apart the defense. With the knowledge he has acquired of the defense over the course of the game, and the experience he has amassed during his long career, McNabb has the tools to get the job done.

The greatest teams have had exceptional two-minute offenses that were led on the field by the quarterback. Any two-minute concepts that Andy wants to see executed should be installed in practice, not game time, with very limited exception.


1. Running on First Down from I-Form

This is a no-brainer. The offense finds its consistency when they run on first down. Whether it works or not, opposing defenses must respect the threat of Brian Westbrook, and when they do, it's time to change it up with play action, a short, quick play to the receivers, or for the coupe-de-gras, an outright fly or pump-and-go.

More Analysis from Leo Pizzini at: http://eagles.sportsscribes.net/

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