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Shotgun a vital weapon in Eagles' arsenal

The Eagles adjusted their game plan to score 34 points despite eight inches of snow in Sunday's win over the Detroit Lions, but coach Chip Kelly said Monday that he did not make any major changes to the offense.

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)Read more

The Eagles adjusted their game plan to score 34 points despite eight inches of snow in Sunday's win over the Detroit Lions, but coach Chip Kelly said Monday that he did not make any major changes to the offense.

"All the other adjustments were just some formation things to get us some surfaces to run at and to get some better double teams," said Kelly, whose Eagles are first in the NFC East, one game ahead of Dallas after Monday night's 45-28 shellacking of the Cowboys by the Bears.

"But there wasn't anything out of the ordinary."

The biggest adjustment the Eagles made against the Lions was moving from the shotgun to under center. The Eagles run most of their plays out of the shotgun, but it was more difficult in the snow.

In the first half, when conditions were poor and the offense struggled, the Eagles ran 22 plays under center. They ran just eight out of the shotgun.

In the second half, when the snow slowed and the offense picked up, the Eagles ran 33 plays from the shotgun and nine non-kneel-downs under center. Three of the team's five touchdowns came from the shotgun.

The Eagles averaged 9.49 yards per play in the shotgun, and 4.48 yards per play under center. Those numbers suggest the Eagles were far superior in the shotgun, which makes sense because that's their usual set. The snow affected the under-center numbers because most of those plays came when the snowfall was most intense.

Kelly said the offense could function entirely under center, if needed.

"We're under center every day and we're under center in every game," Kelly said. "I don't have a percentage, but that wasn't a big deal for us. That wasn't like, 'Oh, my God, we've got to take a center-quarterback exchange.' We do it all the time. We run a lot of plays from under."

Quarterback Nick Foles played under center often last season and said he was comfortable in that spot. He said that the change did not affect him. Foles mishandled one snap out of the shotgun but did not lose the ball. It was the only Eagles fumble Sunday. The Lions fumbled seven times and lost three.

"I think it was just a big thing with ball security in those situations," Foles said. "Sometimes in the shotgun the ball comes out back pretty fast. And with the snow coming down it does make the ball pretty slick, so [it's] just another way to control it and make sure we could keep the ball in our hands and be smart with it."

On his radio show on WIP-FM (94.1), general manager Howie Roseman mentioned Foles' big hands as an advantage for quarterbacking in the Northeast. He also said that running back LeSean McCoy, a Harrisburg native who played at Pittsburgh and set an Eagles record with 217 rushing yards, is a proven cold-weather running back.

The Eagles are bound to play in more games with inclement weather, and it would seem that having a roster that can perform in those conditions would important. But Kelly did not put much stock in the idea. He disputed the notion that some teams are built for where they play, chalking it up as more a narrative than a reality.

"I don't think it's different," Kelly said. "Wins early in the season are just as important as wins late in the season. I think you don't look at a guy and say, 'Hey, he's a good cold-weather guy so let's go get him' because there's not enough data, either."

But now at least Kelly has evidence that the team - and the offense - can thrive in adverse conditions.

"I knew exactly what those guys were going to be like," Kelly said. "I think maybe some other people [learned about the Eagles], but I didn't have any question in my mind what was going to go on in that football game because I've been around these guys every single day."

Extra points

Kelly said that the Eagles suffered no injuries against the Lions and that safety Earl Wolff (knee) would try to practice Tuesday after missing three games. Wolff and linebacker Najee Goode (hamstring) are the only Eagles who will be on the injury report. . . . McCoy's jersey, cleats, and gloves used in his record-breaking performance were sent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.