The Eagles faithful had a reason to relax a little bit with the way QB Nick Foles played last week. He is a very capable leader in this offense and showed the ability to transition the game plan to suit his style of play. There was not much difference in the play-calling and head coach Doug Pederson was comfortable opening up the offense and pushing the ball down the field. The reason for the offensive success was the O-line protected him and allowed the passing plays to progress to the second and third reads.
An upright Foles is a talented player when he is afforded the time in the pocket. We all know he is not as fleet of foot as a Carson Wentz or Big Ben, but Foles has a very strong arm. He throws catchable balls to his receivers, whereas playing with a QB like Wentz or Ben changes your mentality and the dynamics of the launch point of where the ball is being thrown. They can be anywhere evading and escaping the pass rush, looking downfield for the big play.
Blocking for Nick Foles is a bit different. He will be where he is expected to be: in the pocket. The O-line knows that Foles will be three, five or seven steps back inside the pocket, which at times makes it easier to block for him. The only thing is that the defense also knows this. He will be standing back in the pocket like a sitting duck.
The Eagles' O-line changed up the blocking schemes a little bit. They were able to protect the left side of the line with blocking and aggressive pass sets. You can do that against the Giants, who are at this point ranked 32nd — last in the NFL — in total defense.
This week's defense, the Oakland Raiders, are not much better, ranked 21st in total defense. But they do have last year's Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack. Mack has recorded a sack in each of the last five games, with two against Dallas last week. He will mix things up for the Eagles because he plays on both sides of the defensive line. Mack beat All-Pro Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith for a sack with an inside pass rush last week, then beat former All-Pro tight end Jason Witten for a sack on the right side.
The Eagles must run protections that slide to the left, protecting the left tackle's side from Mack's pass rush on the inside move. The perfect protection to help both sides is called 2 Jet, Fox 2 or Hound 2 protections. This would mean sliding the protection to the left side if Mack lines up over the left tackle, but it also sends a running back to the right tackle as a chip blocker, helping the All-Pro right side.
I loved this protection because it's a six-man protection, meaning the five O-linemen and an RB frontside to chip. Slide protection should be a major staple in this week's play-calling — protect Foles' front side with a chipper and his backside with the O-line sliding to help the left tackle.
Major props and congratulations to the right side of the Eagles' line. Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks both made their first Pro Bowl and it is well-deserved.