Doug Pederson pulled off a master stroke of genius against the Falcons, when he called a gadget play on 3rd-and-5 in the third quarter of the season opener.
This play wasn't the Philly Special that the Eagles ran in the Super Bowl. It's a play they named "Philly Philly," and yes, it's the one from the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The one Tom Brady dropped.
The Eagles actually installed this play in their offense on the last day of the mandatory minicamp in June.
Here's what I wrote about it then:
"During the team portion of practice, we saw some more tricks for the second straight day. Today, it looked an awful lot like the Philly Special. Former college quarterback Greg Ward took a pitch and then threw the ball to Nick Foles, who rolled right, in the end zone for a touchdown. It looked awfully familiar."
It did look familiar. I mistakenly thought it looked like the Philly Special. It was actually Philly Philly.
So let's take a look at Thursday night's Philly Philly and compare it to the Patriots' failed play and the now uber-famous Philly Special:
The Patriots were in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end) when they ran the play during Super Bowl LII, but the Eagles are in 12 (one running back, two tight ends). Before the snap, Zach Ertz motioned to the near side.
Unlike the Philly Special, Foles is going to take the snap in shotgun. Corey Clement is flanking him to his right and will take the handoff as Nelson Agholor comes from out wide to get a perfect pitch from Clement.
The important part of this view is that Vic Beasley bit hard on the handoff. Of course he did. He loses contain in a second, but you can't really blame him. This is going to create a ton of room for Foles down the right sideline.
Beasley eventually diagnoses the play, but it's way too late. A perfect throw from Agholor hits Foles in stride and the play goes for 15 yards.
That's beautiful … and familiar.
Here's how it went for the Patriots, who actually used it on the same down and distance as the Eagles. This came on 3rd-and-5 in Super Bowl LII.
The play formation is slightly different. As we mentioned earlier, the Patriots were in 11 personnel. And the Patriots motioned the running back into the backfield after showing an empty set. But at the snap, it looks really similar. Danny Amendola is off the line, just like Agholor was.
On this play in the Super Bowl, Chris Long was the guy who got faked out. You can see him figure it out here, but it's way too late. His momentum is flying toward the ball. The receiver at the bottom of the formation did a great job clearing Jalen Mills out of the play.
No wonder the Eagles wanted to use this play. It nearly worked to perfection for the Patriots. Look how wide open Brady was! This should have been a huge and easy gain. Brady just dropped it.
Eagles fans are never going to get tired of seeing Brady drop that ball.
They're also never going to get tired of seeing the Philly special. Here it is one more time:
The gutsiest play call in Super Bowl history starts when Foles motions Clement behind him into what looks like a pistol formation and then pretends to make calls to the line, getting behind Lane Johnson and yelling "Lane! Lane!" the cue for the direct snap.
The obvious difference between Philly Special and Philly Philly is that the Philly Special starts with a direct snap to Clement.
The other big difference is how quick the play is. Trey Burton is lined up much closer to the OL in a bunch formation. This means the play happens much, much quicker.
I think Alshon Jeffery has never gotten enough credit on this play. He clears out that entire side of the field; he really sells it. And Foles ends up wide open, waiting for the perfect pass from Burton.
The last big difference between Philly Philly and the Philly Special is that Foles caught the ball over his right shoulder in Philly Special and over his left shoulder in Philly Philly. That just illustrates how good of an athlete he is. Foles catches passes from a coach during warmups before every game. Always has. Here's why.
So the plays are similar in some respects. After all, the main emphasis on both is that defenses often completely forget about the quarterback once the ball is in the hands of a running back. And if you have a quarterback who can catch (sorry, Patriots) these plays can work.
It's just amazing the Eagles have now run them in consecutive games.