“Never mess with a Sicilian when death is on the line!”
Those are the famous last words of Vizzini, portrayed by Wallace Shawn, in the 1987 classic the Princess Bride. Mere seconds before his death, Vizzini is convinced he has just won a battle of wits between himself and Westley played by Cary Elwes. One goblet poisoned with Iocaine powder, one without. Vizzini merely has to figure out which one’s which and drink from the safe one. After a long, hilarious explanation, and some trickery, both characters drink from the goblets in front of them at the request of Vizzini.
Vizzini’s final moment of arrogance had him convinced he had made the right decision. Turns out, he was wrong either way. Westley had built up immunity to the odorless, tasteless and among the more deadlier poisons known to man and put it in both goblets. Vizzini was convinced he had played the game right and outsmarted the man in black. Westley was just one step ahead of him. Vizzini didn’t see it coming. He wasn’t smart or quick enough to figure out there was a third option, and it led to his demise.
Reid played the role of Westley as the architect of Travis Kelce’s impressive touchdown catch off of a shovel pass. The third option the Eagles weren’t quick enough to process.
Somehow, Reid was able to manufacture enough defensive chaos to hide Kelce for a score. It’s hard to distract teams from such a talented football player, especially when teams spend a lot of time keying on him.
The play was set up again as it was last week by the World’s Greatest Decoy Tyreek Hill. And again, the touchdown was set up by a similar play ran earlier in the game. Hill beat the Eagles for a first down off the same formation and motion as Kelce’s touchdown catch (if we can really call it that).
Andy Reid gets one of the fastest players in football the ball at full speed. Well designed. pic.twitter.com/s35cnpNdy5— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 18, 2017
Technically this is a forward pass. If it’s dropped the play is dead. Kelce is a lead blocker for Hill on the edge. Thomas fakes the hand off. The play nets 18 yards. Well designed by Reid. He gets one of the fastest players in football the ball while he’s already in motion.
Philadelphia has an aggressive defense. They are decisive and quick to flow, sometimes to their demise. They’ve been stressed by Hill in this same formation and look on the edge, so they must honor that. Players and coaches both anticipate they are being set up for something else off of most plays.
That’s part of what happens in the first 15: show one thing to set something up later. Once a team sees a formation or look they may not be prepared for, they spend time on the sidelines making sure they like how they have it covered and make any necessary adjustment. It’s likely that the Eagles coaches and players were better prepared off of the first look, but also looking out for something off of it. Reid utilized what I call a circle motion with Hill. It is a rarely utilized pre-snap movement, and because of that likely identified by the Eagles the second time around. They’ve seen it once, the instincts start to kick in for that play or something off of it.
The most logical progression to this play would be to hand off to Thomas after a fake to Hill. He faked it the first time, makes sense to come back with a give to him. Reid got out one step ahead.
Identical look as the big play from Hill. Eagles threatened by Hill and Thomas horizontally. Distracts from LDT and Kelce inside. pic.twitter.com/2lLquzwdvw— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) September 18, 2017
There’s too much going on for anyone to think the ball is going to Kelce. The mesh point with Hill, De’Anthony Thomas and Alex Smith has too much going on horizontally in both directions for teams to identify that Kelce isn’t getting to the edge to block but rather coming underneath to catch the shovel. The pulling Laurent Duvernay-Tardif likely isn’t seen as the lead blocker for Kelce, but rather help to spring Thomas. The Eagles are stretched horizontally in both directions, providing space in the middle for Kelce. He does the rest, going airborne at the five yard line for a touchdown.
No one saw the shovel coming off of the Hill motion. The World’s Greatest Decoy is two for two in helping spring his teammates for touchdowns. Reid stayed one step ahead and designed a unique way to get one of his best players the ball without anyone having time to react, much like the first look to Hill.
Reid is playing chess and he’s playing it like Bobby Fischer. Eventually, one of these defenses will stop playing checkers. Until then, we’re all going to continue to be in awe of what Reid is dialing up every week.
His play calling has been as good as I’ve seen it.
Anybody want a peanut?