Looking at Film of the Philly Special and Its Origins - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Looking at Film of the Philly Special and Its Origins

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    Looking at film of the Philly Special and its origins

    By now you've heard just about everything there is to hear about the "Philly Special," the one play that you'll probably never forget from the Eagles' 41-33 win in Super Bowl LII. 

    You've heard how the Eagles came across it while watching Bears-Vikings film from the previous year. You've heard that the Bears actually called it "Clemson Special" from when the Tigers used to run it with Tajh Boyd. 

    You've seen the video where Nick Foles comes to the sideline and suggests the play by saying "Philly Philly" and Doug Pederson still knew what he meant. Pederson, after a brief pause, responded, "Yeah, let's do it!" 

    Yeah, let's just call the gutsiest call in Super Bowl history. Let's call a trick play on fourth down in the Super Bowl against Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Let's do it. 

    Of course, it worked. The Eagles sold it beautifully. Everyone did their jobs on the play and the Eagles walked away with a touchdown and a 22-12 lead heading into halftime. 

    Let's take a look: 

    OK, so it's 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line with 38 seconds left in the second quarter of Super Bowl LII and the Eagles are really going to do this. This is just after Foles motions Corey Clement behind him. Clement is going to need to be there when the snap eventually comes his way. 

    Trey Burton is lined up behind Torrey Smith. He's going to come across the back of the formation to get the pitch from Clement and then throw the ball to Foles in the end zone. The former quarterback is going to throw a touchdown in the Super Bowl. 

    At the top of the screen, it's going to be Alshon Jeffery's job to just clear out some space. He's a complete decoy on the play. 

    Then there's Smith, who is going to sneak across the line of scrimmage and get wide open in the end zone. He's Burton's second read on the play, but the Eagles never need to go to him. 

    The Eagles won the Lombardi Trophy, but Clement deserves an Academy Award too. It's very subtle, but as Foles begins to walk up to the line to say something to Lane Johnson at right tackle, Clement tosses his hand out as if to say, "Nick, what are you doing?" 

    Here's the point of the snap. Clement is now going to start running toward the bottom of the screen, while Burton comes up toward the top. Jeffery is going to drag his defender out of the play, Smith is going to sneak behind the coverage, and Foles is going to be wide open in the end zone. 

    Foles (circled) does a great job of selling it. He doesn't do anything for a second. 


    Once Burton gets the ball in his hands, it's over. The Patriots have completely forgotten about Foles, while Jeffery is simply taking his cornerback away from the play. By the time Burton throws this ball, Foles might actually be too wide open. He had some time to think about it, but he snags the catch. Meanwhile, Burton's second read, Smith, was open in the end zone too. 

    Yeah, it was a beauty. And the Bears ran it to perfection a little over a year earlier in the same exact end zone of U.S. Bank Stadium. Really. 

    That's, of course, how the Eagles saw the play. They were studying for their NFC Championship Game against the Vikings and saw the Bears' play. Wide receivers coach Mike Groh, who was with the Bears last year, helped the Eagles install the play for themselves. 

    They liked it so much they actually thought about using it against the Vikings and had to question if they would get fooled by it twice in two seasons. But then that game ended up being a blowout, so the Philly Special was put back into Pederson's sleeve. 

    Here's what the Eagles saw on tape when they watched the Bears run it: 

    OK, so the stakes aren't as high for the Bears here. They're down 17-0 in the last game of the 2016 season and they're going to finish with just three wins. But a good play is a good play. There's 1:52 left in the second quarter and it's 3rd-and-goal from the 2-yard line. 

    Our old friend Matt Barkley brings Jeremy Langford in motion all the way from the top sideline. Langford lines up behind Barkley and gets ready for the snap. 

    Same thing. What is the quarterback doing? Oh, he's talking to the right tackle. Oh, here comes the football. 

    In the Bears' play, the role of Clement is played by Langford. Burton is Cameron Meredith, who is about to come across the formation and get the pitch. Deonte Thompson is Smith; he's going to sneak across the line and be the second read. Daniel Brown is Ertz, blocking to give just a little extra time. 

    And at the top of the screen, Alshon Jeffery is ... Alshon Jeffery. Yup, for both plays, Jeffery is just a decoy. His job is to take his cornerback completely out of the play. He runs a different route, but the job is the same. 

     

    Too easy. The linebacker looks like he's on to something here, but he's not. Barkley is wide open for a touchdown. 

    Here's the full look: 

    And if you're wondering where the Bears got the play, well, they used to call it the Clemson Special. Not hard to figure out why. 

    It's kind of crazy this play that has been passed through the ranks has become one of the biggest plays in Philadelphia sports history, but it did. This is a copycat sport and if the Eagles see something they like, they're going to see if it works for them. 

    They really pulled it off.