After scouring far and wide, the Eagles settled on Sirianni as the organisation’s next head coach. Picking from the Frank Reich coaching tree suggests the top brass are fully committed to rejuvenating their ailing franchise quarterback. Sirianni will likely bring back many concepts that made the 2017 offense so successful. Although he didn’t call the plays for the Colts, reviewing their 2020 film suggests Sirianni is an innovative, adaptable coach. If last season is anything to go by, we’ll see a coach who excels at gameplanning around opponents, and a number of familiar concepts returning to the play-sheet.
Multiple elements merged together to form an explosive offense in the Super Bowl season. The versatility and disguise created a dominant ground attack. The TE trap, counters and handback punch were three of the most productive concepts called by Pederson during that season. They all but disappeared in favour of a vanilla zone runs in 2020. In contrast, the Colts’ offense featured a ton of misdirection plays, and they enjoyed great success with their ground attack as a result.
Aside from Philly Special, probably the most iconic play of 2017 was the Eagles TE stick’n nod. The play was virtually unstoppable in the redzone, and offensive efficiency was off the charts as a result. If even Philip Rivers can manage a vertical shot, Carson Wentz should have no problem completing what appears to be his favourite concept.
Crosses and Os
One of the more unique plays called by Frank Reich in Indianapolis was an adapted mesh concept. Typically, mesh involves a pair of shallow crossers, with a deeper dig route to open the underneath throwing lanes. Although they used the more traditional play as well, the Colts’ adaptation involved deeper crossers, with another trailing crosser underneath. The design is so effective because it works against both man and zone coverages. By flooding the middle of the field with three options, it overloads coverages centrally. It also integrates a natural pick for the shallow crosser, stressing the man-coverage defender’s ability to navigate trash.
Frank Reich is an exceptional coordinator, mostly because he gameplans to exploit opponents’ weaknesses. Hopefully, Sirianni has a similar understanding of how to scheme receivers open. Certainly, the pair did a fantastic job in 2020 of identifying the matchups they wanted to exploit. Whether that’s scissors against cover-3 or screens against blitzing fronts, the Colts often found the right play at the right time. Hamstrung by a quarterback unable to push the ball downfield, they used a ton of screens in particular to great effect. Sirianni’s background prior to landing with the Colts, as the Chargers’ receivers coach, saw his unit heavily involved in one of the more unorthodox screen games of all time. Against the Eagles in 2017, and across the season, slant and crossing screens featured heavily. Those kinds of plays are likely to crop up in Philly. They should suit the athleticism of the offensive lineman the Eagles prefer.
Less is known of the scheme defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon will bring to town. Both the Colts and Vikings preferred two deep coverages, but it’s unclear if the Eagles have the personnel to run the scheme effectively. An athletically gifted middle linebacker, able to cover the seam, is a pre-requisite. There’s no one on the roster currently capable of filling that role. An increase in blitz rate seems likely, but the shortage of quality corners might make that difficult to execute.