You’re never going to forget the “Philly Special.”
Perhaps the gutsiest call in NFL history, the trick play the Eagles pulled off late in the second quarter of Super Bowl LII helped the franchise hold the Lombardi Trophy for the first time.
Go ahead and thank Press Taylor for that.
Taylor is now the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach, but last season as an offensive quality control assistant, part of his job was to mine plays — often specifically gadget plays — from around the rest of the NFL and college. So it was actually a newly-turned 30-year-old who made a bunch of grown men cry tears of joy in February.
But what was it like for Taylor to see the play he mined get used in the Super Bowl?
“It was awesome,” Taylor said with a smile Monday morning, just over four months since the game. “I don’t think I ever could have imagined it being a 4th-and-2 call in the Super Bowl. I don’t think anybody would have.”
During the Super Bowl, Taylor was upstairs in the coaching booth when he heard the play call come over his headset. Down on the field, it was Nick Foles who approached Doug Pederson with the suggestion “Philly Philly” in one of the most memorable moments from the incredible game.
Taylor tried to downplay the credit he’s received from Pederson and former offensive coordinator Frank Reich for bringing the play to the Eagles. But there he was during the Super Bowl, watching the play he found, get used in an incredibly pivotal moment.
“We were all just kind of holding on, hoping it turned out well,” Taylor said. “And it did. It was a great call. I think, for us, if you’re not the play-caller and you’re not on the field executing, you’re kind of just a fan that happens to know the play being called and knows what to look for when we line up.”
During last season, Taylor collected gadget plays in a folder until Reich came to him and asked for his five best ideas. It included the Philly Special. Taylor saw it from a Bears-Vikings game in the 2016 season. Then WRs coach Mike Groh and Alshon Jeffery, having both come from Chicago, were familiar with it and helped install it and help it fit with the Eagles.
The Bears actually called the play “Clemson Special” because they found it from watching college tape. (See the tape breakdown and the play’s origins here.)
Taylor had seen the play at the college level before too, at Oklahoma, West Virginia, South Alabama, but said the play needs to be different in the NFL, where a quarterback can’t catch a pass after being lined up under center. So Foles had to be in the shotgun.
After the Eagles called the play, Taylor watched it work to perfection, just as he envisioned.
“Watching as Nick moves, how the defense reacts,” he said, “ you just get more and more excited as the play goes on.”