Saturday, January 16, 2010

Good Signs

***

Change is hard. There is real comfort in sticking with the way things are, especially when you are successful. I told a few people recently that I'd love for the Eagles to dump Ted Daisher and go after Bobby April, but I knew that wasn't likely to happen because it isn't Andy Reid's style. He sticks with his coaches, through thick and thin.

But guess what happened? Andy fired Daisher and hired April. Change. Yikes, hide under your beds. God only knows what will happen next.

I take this as a good sign. Andy had a chance to go land arguably the best STs coach in the league. He went and did that. Daisher did some good things this year. He seemed to be an improvement on Rory Segrest. Still, Daisher isn't on the same level as Bobby April.

This move shows me that Andy is willing to shake things up a bit...if the right move is there to be made. Too often fans want change for the sake of change. They frame their argument a certain way, but the heart of the issue is that they are tired of the guy who currently has the job. Stability is highly underrated, but too much of anything is bad. Some change is good. It brings fresh ideas and personalities to the mix. It changes the dynamic of the group in some way.

Andy also fired the strength guys. I don't pretend to know whether they did a good job in recent years. We won so they probably were doing something right. Maybe we did need a change, though. Strength and Conditioning is a field that seems to constantly be shifting. Trainers now employee all kinds of radical ideas to get players to maximize their bodies. David Akers did the P90X thing in the offseason prior to 2008 and that may have saved his career. Several Eagles use a local trainer named Steve Saunders to help them get over the top. The players were working out with the team, but went elsewhere for more specialized training. Mike Wolf had been here for 15 years. Maybe the issue was that he was simply not getting creative enough. You bring in some new blood with fresh ideas and get the team re-invigorated.

I certainly don't blame Wolf for any losses or real problems. That would be bogus thinking. At the same time, teams sometimes need a little edge to help them in a game or specific situation. Maybe Wolf's ideas and methods gave us that edge 10 years ago. Now it is time to look elsewhere.

Don't think these moves mean that Andy has turned into Stalin and there will be constant purges in the offseason. It does show us that Big Red was bothered enough by the end of the season to actually make aggressive changes. That's a good sign. I don't think the rest of the coaching staff needs any changes, but there is some serious work to be done on the roster.


ANSWERING QUESTIONS

RE: 3-4/4-3 hybrid


Not a likely move. A few teams have done it (BAL, NE, ARZ). I just don't think we need a schematic change. Our D was on the verge of greatness last year. Injuries and moves took us back a step this season. We need better players, not new schemes.

Players have to know a lot of calls and assignments in any defense. Mixing fronts requires a smart front seven (mainly veterans) who can adjust on the fly and not blow assignments. One missed gap leads to a big play or TD. Mixing fronts can confuse the offense, but also your own players.

Tom Landry created the 4-3. Buddy Ryan ran the 4-3. The Steel Curtain was the 4-3. The Purple People Eaters were the 4-3. The great Ravens of 2000 ran a 4-3. If Jesus were a defensive coordinator he would run the 4-3. The 3-4 is for AFC teams and guys named Bill. I'll pass.


RE: Lendale White

I doubt the Eagles go for a guy like him. He is a FA and I think he'll want to go somewhere he can get touches. We don't run that much. I would like us to bring in a back with some size, but White probably isn't our guy. We may go through the draft for our new RB.


RE: Vick's trade value

I've been all over the place on this. In Early November I said "none". I'll amend that. He does have trade value, but I'm sure it would most likely be conditional picks. Vick still hasn't started a game at QB in years. He hasn't thrown more than a few passes. If I were a team I would not feel comfortable with him as my starter...yet.

I'm thinking the Eagles may keep Vick around as the Wildcat in 2010. He proved quite valuable during one stretch. He is pricey, but if he can deliver 1st downs and TDs that might be worth it.


RE: SAM & Akeem

Akeem Jordan came into this year firmly entrenched at WLB. He started the season well in some areas, but his coverage was a problem. We got eaten alive by TEs and Jordan was part of the problem. He lost his job in the Nickel because of coverage and tackling issues.

Jordan is a hitter. He is physical. He's not a SAM guy. The SAM backer needs to be able to engage blockers, shed, and find the ball. The job of the WLB in our system is often to attack the lead blocker. Blowing up the Fullback is different that setting the edge vs an OL. One block is about leverage and positioning. The other is about running through a brick wall. Jordan will attack the wall. He's tough and fearless.

What do the Eagles ideally want?

WLB - 6'2, 240 ... guy must be tough, able to cover, good blitzer, physical tackler
MLB - 6'2, 255 ... guy must be powerful (esp. in lower body), must be able to handle some OL
SLB - 6'3, 255 ... guy should be able to set edge vs run, good blitzer, jam TE, some coverage

Think of it this way.

WLB - We like guys that play MLB for most teams.
MLB - We like guys that play SAM for most teams...or short, stumpy MLBs.
SLB - We like guys that are former DEs.

There are exceptions. The Eagles shifted Fokou around and thought he looked best at SAM. That's why he's there. We tried Omar in the middle because he was a good tackler and natural leader. His lack of ideal athletic ability made WLB a poor fit, but would be okay at MLB. He wasn't physical enough, though.

Ideal guys

WLB - Shawn Barber
MLB - Stewart Bradley
SLB - Carlos Emmons

This offseason will be real interesting at LB. We know Stew and Spoon are set. We might need a SAM. We also might need some backups. I'm curious to see how they go about building this group back up and what kind of players McDermott brings in. Maybe he'll want some different types.

_

24 comments:

Dominic said...

What about Disco Stew at SAM? Wasn't he drafted to fill that role? He's big, great at taking on big blockers and shedding them.

Maybe we could pick up MIKE in the draft (Rolando McClain or Brandon Spikes, big physical, athletic guys, though we'd probably have to trade up). Spoon at WILL, Bradley at SAM and one of those studs at MIKE sounds awesome to me.

Crash said...

Hey Tommy, how does the nickel linebacker play into our defense and does Tracy White come back and fill that role next year?

Cliff said...

Dominic, I sort of like your idea about playing Stew at SAM and finding a new MLB.

However, there are two huge things working against that idea:

1) Stew is sort of entrenched in the MLB spot. He's played really, really well there and has demonstrated the leadership qualities (IQ and "leadership") we would want at MLB.

2) We have more pressing needs in the draft that would prevent us from drafting Spikes or McClain. I can't see us passing up DE or DB (or even OG/C) to draft a LB when we have so many guys already on the roster who could be serviceable for at least 1 more season.

Cliff said...

Also, I'm not so sure Spikes and McClain are that great anyway. I'd feel differently if there were someone like Patrick Willis available and we had the opportunity to draft him and move Stew to SAM, but neither guy is on that level (well, few are).

Edward said...

I've seen a few people say McClain isn't that far from Patrick Willis. Though he did seem to be a once a decade sort of prospect.

Cheers for the info on the LB's Tommy, I know have a much better idea of what to be looking for. Fokou must be a strong bugger to do that job at the weight he plays at.

@Dominic

The MLB position has much more playmaking potential and is more important than SAM. Stew is a 3 down player there and he'd be wasted at SAM. A.J. Edds in the third at SAM would do me. We could do with a 4th/5th round MLB backup though.

Eddie said...

i think joe mays will be a good backup at best, so we should worry about DE, OLB, and S. i would love to get Julius Peppers because he can get sacks on LTs just imagine what he can do on RTs. OLB i beleive is more depth than need because sean love Fokou , and will at OLB and Stew at MLB so not much has changed.i also want to get Eric Berry but there is probably a 3% chance of getting him so i settle for Taylor Mays who i love also but not as much as Berry, plus we can slide Quninton Mikkel to FS. What do you think?

Edward said...

We definitely need to either sign or draft a couple of backers.

Assuming Trotter, Gocong and Gaither leave in free agency, that leaves us with Witherspoon - Bradley - Fokou starting backed up by Jordan, Mays and White. A SLB/MLB draft pick could would improve the backups and potentially improve us at SAM. If there is a free agent available to come in and start then we have fokou as a backup but would probably still need a MLB backup. Who knows. Holes at CB, LDE, S and LB all need to be filled either by FA or the draft.

Dominic said...

I agree that Stew's being entrenched at MIKE being the biggest obstacle to him switching positions. However, we also need to consider that he is coming off his 2nd torn ACL (he tore his knee up in college). As Edward rightly says MIKE is a play making position and it would certainly be easier for Stew play SAM off of an injury. Also regarding Stew being a 3-down LB, he does have some coverage issue (we didn't have much success against TEs last...also remember that MB3 wheel route in Week 2 last year). Also I think that we might be better served to address DE through free agency as DEs in the first round tend to a mixed bag. Rookie LBs tend to have an easier transition to the pro game. In fact, Andy has had pretty good success drafting pass rushers in the later rounds (Burgess and Cole come to mind).

All this being said and knowing Andy's love for drafting linemen (both defense and offensive) and defensive backs early on, the proposed situation probably isn't realistic.

Edward said...

Interesting point about him in Coverage. It's never seemed like he didn't have the talent for it though, and he was significantly better by the end of the season. The TE issue was also with Jordan and Gocong starting either side of him. Neither of which were playing much when we had such a good run against great tight ends. In fact we had good games against those Te's with Trotter taking quite a few snaps at MLB. So with Witherspoon and Fokou either side of him coverage shouldn't be a huge issue.

Who're you thinking for DE in FA? Kampman and Peppers are the two names i've heard most but they both have issues. ACL for Kampman and character for Peppers.

Dominic said...

@Edward

He definitely did get better at coverage over the year, but I am sort of worried about his mobility coming off an injury. I also think Fokou is a little too small for our defense. Since we play with a small d-line, JJ always compensated by having huge SAMs like Emmons and Gocong, who were essentially a fifth down lineman. I just prefer size at that position.

I understand the character concerns, but Peppers is still a damn good player. He made Bryant McKinnie look like Winston Justice in '07 when the Panthers played the Vikes. Kampman, I've really never been a big fan of. I wonder how Seymour would fit into our scheme. He would certainly help our run defense and he is a capable pass rusher. I'd be interested in trying a bigger d-end. As far as capable pass rushers, there is Adewale Ogunleye, Ray Edwards (he's a RFA though) and our old friend Derrick Burgess.

Pitmanite said...

i want no parts of lendale white, and if i were a RB i'd never come to the eagles. i was just just looking at some reg season stuff, and we were tied for 11th place in average rushing yards per carry with 4.3 ypc. i point this out bc sometimes i think pple assume that we don't run bc we aren't effective but that's not case. now even though we were tied for 11th in ypc, we were ranked 28th in the league in rushing attempts. therein lies the problem.

fyi...the jets, ravens, saints and vikings were ranked in the top 7 in # of rushing attempts.

also, just watched the hurt locker and i highly recommend it. peter king writes often about this guy who disarms IEDs for a living and that is some scary stuff!

Cliff said...

RE: Lendale White, RB's to the Eagles

I think the same logic can be used when wondering if Weaver will re-sign with the team. I haven't seen anything about this since it was revealed during the season that Weaver was talking with the F.O. about a new contract.

As a FB, Weaver's thought-process might be a little different than a free agent RB when considering the Eagles, though. How many teams used their FB as creatively as we did this season? He was almost exclusively our single-back guy and we threw to him a lot more than most teams do with their FB.

Re-signing Weaver is a top priority, in my opinion

@ Pitmanite

I have a crazy - and I mean crazy - uncle who disarms IED's and other explosive devices. As much as I'd like to admire the man's courage and testicular fortitude, he's an idiot.

He was in the Army for a while, then went to work for a private contractor whose job it was to find and disarm IED's in Iraq. He was getting paid LOTS OF MONEY (as you can imagine) to do this, mostly tax free.

Then one day - literally out of the blue - he decides to re-enlist! Re-enlist! According to my aunt, "he was awash with patriotic duty."

Screw that! He loses a six-figure, low-tax job to become essentially an Army runt at Army wage. Needless to say, my aunt and uncle's marriage fell apart.

Myron said...

I'm telling you - if they put Peppers on the front 4 opposite Trent Cole and he decides to actually play well, and just get Stew back at MLB, and upgrade the FS position, our defense would easily be top 5 again.

I even have a nickname thought up for it: our defense would serve quarterbacks a sack lunch with a side of Hot Peppers and Coleslaw.

Eddie said...

Another player to consider would be richard Seymore from the Raider barring he gets francise tagged i think he would be terrific because he is amazing against the run and good at least rushing the passer.

Cliff said...

Vikings are making me feel better about the NFL. Just went up 14-3 on the Girls.

Cliff said...

Romo's now fumbled THREE times with 6:30 left to go in the 2nd quarter! Wow!

Edward said...

The Vikings D is showing perfectly what a defense can do if it can get pressure without blitzing. This Ray Edwards guy is looking like he could be what we need. However main difference from what i can see is pressure up the middle. Their D-tackles actually move.

Bunk and Pat rarely seem to go backwards, good thing. They also rarely seem to go forwards, bad thing. It was particularly bad this year. Bunk and Pat combined for 2.5 sacks.
Pat had 1.5 sacks and was tied for 38th with 7 other DT's and Bunk with 1 sack was tied for 45th with 25 other players. I know we run a 2 gap system but that just isn't good enough. In 2007 they combined for 7 sacks, where has that production gone?

Though while i've written this the Vikings have proved that they're doing everything better than we managed against the Cowboys i still think its a valid point.

Edward said...

This game is looking alot like the Cowboys - Eagles game. Except the Cowboys are now the Eagles and the Vikings are playing like the Cowboys did. Domination by both Vikings lines.

The Cowboys are calling plays and executing what the eagles should have done though, quick passes. They've managed to get down the field quite successfully doing that. Did we try it at all?

Edward said...

Third post in a row. I apologise.

Seen much of Rashad Jeanty of the Bengals Tommy? He's almost got the build to play SAM and could be a fairly under the radar kind of guy to compete for the starting job or provide depth.

Pitmanite said...

seeing jerry jones red-eyed and stressed on the girls sideline just made me feel so good.

rick said...

I guess the Cowboys aren't the 'hottest' team in the playoffs anymore. Thanks Brad and Brett.

Myron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Myron said...

Well, at least this season wasn't a total wash.

Any time you can see Wade Phillips and Jerry Jones looking hot and flustered on the sidelines while golden boy Tony Choke-o turning the ball over like a slot machine, it's not a bad year.

Prem Prakash said...

I just spent some time behind enemy lines, reading the Cowboys forum. To hear them moan and groan is pure poetry.