Eagles Film Review: Using Darren Sproles as a decoy on long screen play

Eagles Film Review: Using Darren Sproles as a decoy on long screen play

No, it didn’t count. 

The 57-yard touchdown pass on a misdirection screen from Carson Wentz to Zach Ertz was called back for an illegal formation on 3rd-and-6. 

Still, it was a heckuva play. And it all started with how much attention Darren Sproles creates whenever he’s in the game. 

“It's like every time Sproles steps on the field, the defense is yelling, ‘Watch the draw, watch the screen! Watch the draw, watch the screen.’ I mean, he is a magnet,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “He just — he's a dynamic player. He has a way of making big plays. You guys have seen it a lot where Darren makes a play, even when he gets tackled how he gets up and pats the ball, he feels like he should have got 10 more yards than he got. And I think that's because great players, they see it in their mind. 

“He sees the opening; he sees where he wants to get to and so he just draws a lot of attention. So we have to continue to find ways. I think we have done a fairly good job of that, of not only getting him the ball, but using him as a decoy when we can.”

This touchdown would have given the Eagles a lead in the second quarter. Sure, it didn’t count, but it’s the type of play the Eagles should try to use every once in a while. 

Here’s a closer look:

Wentz lines up in a pistol formation, with Sproles behind him. Ertz is off right tackle and the Eagles have trips to the left. 

You'll notice Nelson Agholor isn't on the line of scrimmage, which negated the play, but let's take a look at the play itself and why it would have been successful had it counted. 

Before the snap, Sproles sprints left and Earl Thomas follows, taking him completely out of the play. Because Sproles is such a dynamic playmaker, the defense has to take notice when he's in motion for what seems like a little swing pass. 

At this point, the three receivers to the left look ready to block and Thomas is sprinting toward where he thinks the ball will be, leaving one deep safety in Kam Chancellor. 

Also, take a look at Ertz off the right tackle. He engages his block just long enough. 

As Ertz releases his man, you can see that Chancellor has started to cheat toward his right side of the field, where Sproles ran as a decoy. Instead, Ertz is open for a screen pass, Halapoulivaati Vaitai has a huge block, and center Jason Kelce is ready to sprint. 

Once Ertz catches the ball, Kelce is already out in front by about four yards. Most centers wouldn't have the speed to lead block for 45 yards, but Kelce isn't most centers. While fans always seem to notice when Kelce gets blown up by a nose tackle, this is what he’s always been very good at. 

Without Kelce, Chancellor is probably going to take a good angle and stop Ertz around here. But Kelce is out in front and while he doesn't actually need to block Chancellor with his hands yet, he does force the safety to stay wide. 

Ertz has gotten a lot of flak this season for not having a ton of yards after catch, but take a look at this cut-back effort. With three guys around him and with Kelce off balance, Ertz cuts back inside and gets into the end zone. 

No, this play didn't count. A stupid illegal formation penalty nullified it. But it was a tremendous play call and it's something the Eagles would be wise to go back to later in the season.

Brian Dawkins chooses longtime teammate for Hall of Fame intro

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Brian Dawkins chooses longtime teammate for Hall of Fame intro

Brian Dawkins has chosen longtime teammate and close friend Troy Vincent to introduce him this summer at Dawk's Hall of Fame induction.

Dawkins was selected in February for enshrinement in the 2018 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction class.

"The presenter that will actually be on the stage will be Troy Vincent," Dawkins said in a video posted on the Pro Football Hall of Fame's website.

"My teammate in Philadelphia. We came there the same year. Almost from Day 1 he kind of ... not kind of, he took me under his wing on becoming a professional. Not just a football player but a professional. The details. The details that he went through, the particulars of how he played the position of cornerback was the same way he lived his life (and ran) his businesses that he had off the field.

"He's a guy I can call anytime. Any time of night. And tell him 100 percent all what's going on with me, and I know he's not going to judge me, and it's not going to leave his lips (for) anybody else.

"And the most important thing for me, being a man of faith, is that I know he's going to pray with me. So all those things combined are the reasons why Troy was the perfect guy to introduce me to the Hall of Fame."

Vincent, a native of Trenton and graduate of Pennsbury High in Fairless Hills, Bucks County, spent his first four seasons with the Dolphins before signing an offer sheet with the Eagles before the 1996 season that the Dolphins didn't match.

The Eagles drafted Dawkins in the second round a month after signing Vincent, and the two spent eight years together in the secondary, reaching the playoffs five times and the NFC Championship Game three times.

During those eight seasons, Vincent reached Pro Bowls and Dawkins made the first three of his nine Pro Bowls.

Vincent retired after the 2006 season and Dawkins after the 2011 season.

Dawkins, Vincent and Eric Allen are the only Eagles defensive backs picked to five or more Pro Bowls.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame 2018 enshrinement ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio.

Dawkins' former Eagles teammate, Terrell Owens, will also be inducted. He hasn't yet announced who will present him.

Dawkins will be the 21st former Eagle inducted into the Hall of Fame but only the ninth who spent the majority of his career with the Eagles.

Was Carson Wentz sending Nick Foles a message with Instagram video?

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Was Carson Wentz sending Nick Foles a message with Instagram video?

Offseason quarterback controversies are a rite of passage in the NFL. A time-honored tradition, really. 

We’ve certainly had our share in Philadelphia over the years. There were calls for Ron Jaworski to sit in favor of a young Randall Cunningham. Then cries for Jim McMahon to take Randall’s place. When Andy Reid drafted Kevin Kolb in 2007, that began a groundswell that he was the better choice than Donovan McNabb. Of course, most recently we had the Michael Vick/Nick Foles back and forth. To look back now, it seems silly these were even debates.

Most of the time, when you have these “controversies,” it generally means you have no quarterback on your roster. Not always. The 49ers in the late-80’s and early-90’s had Joe Montana and Steve Young, both Hall of Famers and all-time great quarterbacks. Both also won Super Bowls for San Francisco. But that is the exception. So is the 2018 Philadelphia Eagles’ situation.

I use the word “situation” and not “controversy.” Because there is no controversy. If Wentz is cleared by the Eagles’ medical staff, he starts Week 1. Period. What Foles did was incredible and will go down as one of the great — if not the greatest — stretch we have seen in Philadelphia sports history. He came up as big as you can. But Wentz he is not. That’s no disrespect to Foles. There are a handful of people on the planet who are in Wentz’s class.

Just a refresher course on what Wentz did in 13 games last season (his second in the NFL, by the way). He threw for 33 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 3,296 passing yards and had a 101.9 passer rating. The 33 TDs were the second-most in the NFL despite his missing the final three games. He also led his team to an 11-2 record before succumbing to that knee injury late into that Rams game that clinched the NFC East. He would have been the league MVP had he not gotten hurt.

There is a great luxury having Foles on this team. Wentz does not have to come back before he is able. If he’s not ready, you have the best backup in the league to start the season. But that’s the only scenario in which Foles plays Week 1. Simply put: Wentz is the better quarterback. And he has earned the right to start the opener if cleared. 

Some people read into Wentz's Instagram video of himself throwing earlier in the week as him somehow sending a message to Foles. I don’t buy it. I think Wentz’s message was to the fans and himself that I’ll be back, better than ever.

Wentz and Foles are both good teammates who put the team above themselves. Sure, Foles is a competitor and would likely prefer to start. But there won’t be any behind-the-scenes maneuvering to undercut Wentz. And Wentz is secure enough to be able to handle a Super Bowl MVP backing him up and all that goes along with that. Not to mention a coaching staff and organization that won’t allow outside noise to become a distraction.

Wentz over Foles. There’s no quarterback controversy.