Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Random Stuff

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Hopefully everyone has settled down a bit. I don't know about you guys, but I'm having a hard time even remembering what happened in the 2009 season. That was ages ago...right?

I want to talk a little about Sean McDermott. It is hard to fully assess him after one season. That's just too small a sample. I thought he did a pretty solid job. The defense never hit the same roll that they did in 2008. We always had some player or group in a lull, mostly due to injuries. Still, it wasn't as if the defense was awful or anything like that.

We finished with 44 sacks, a good total. We had 25 INTs, the most of the Reid era. We finished 2nd in the league in takeaways and 3rd down percentage. We were 12th in total defense. The big problem we had was allowing points, mainly because of coverage breakdowns. We allowed the most TD passes of the Reid era. That was due to individual mistakes as well as communication breakdowns that left us dazed and confused.

The defense was without a pair of key leaders in Stewart Bradley and Brian Dawkins. Losing both of them and having a new coordinator made for some growing pains. The hope was that Mikell could be the guy to run the secondary and Stew would run the overall defense. That plan failed utterly when Stew selfishly tore his ACL just so he could catch up on old episodes of Law & Order: SVU.

We had a new Secondary coach in Brian Stewart. I have no decent way to evaluate him. Like the overall defense, the results were highly mixed. I don't know how much of the success Stewart should get credit for and I'm not sure how many of the problems were his fault. The loss of Dawk, injury to Sheldon, injury to Hobbs, and suspension of MmmBop made for a lot of shuffling. There's no way that all the change was a good thing. This was our worst secondary play since 2003 when we had all kinds of injuries.

Sean McDermott made some comments in a recent article about Asante Samuel not carrying out his assignment on a particular play. Was that an accident or intentional? Is Asante doing his own thing? Was he just taking advantage of the coaching changes? Remember substitute teachers? We all took advantage of them. My Latin class once convinced a woman that we were supposed to watch The Sheriff Lobo show. That's fine for high school punks, but not NFL players. McDermott and his staff need to lay down the law this year and get everyone on the same page. Missed coverages and blown gaps lead to TDs.

This was a learning experience for Sean. You know he has regrets from this year. Some will involve gameplans and schemes. He is probably mad at himself for shuffling players as much as he did. Jim Johnson was reticent to make changes. He needed something to be so painfully obvious that Ray Charles was yelling to bench the guy. Sean maybe went too far the other direction.

I do think McDermott will prove to be a good DC. I think he's eventually going to be a good HC. Trying to measure him will be tough. JJ is one of the best coaches of the last 30 years. Think about the great defensive minds of the NFL in that period:

* Buddy Ryan
* Dick LeBeau
* Bill Belichick
* Fritz Schurmur
* Bud Carson
* Monte Kiffin
* Dom Capers
* Floyd Peters

Jim is near the top of that group. It isn't fair to hold Sean to that standard. All we can ask is that he does a good job. If he can do great things, then that is even better. I just want to make sure we're fair with the guy.


PLAYERS TO TARGET

I'm starting to do my lists of FA and I've obviously been working on the draft since last June. Trying to get specific with draft targets takes some time because there are so many guys to consider.

Julius Peppers is a player that the FO will have to talk about. There are very few impact players available in free agency. He could be one. You have to consider that guy. The situation is tricky for many reasons. I'll do a whole post on JP sometime soon. He's more than just a couple of quick comments.

The key thing to remember is to always have backup scenarios. 32 teams will have some interest in Peppers. We need to look high and low to make sure we don't miss anything.

Something to keep in mind with draft talk is that we don't count on rookies to step in and start right away. Reggie's injury last year opened the door for DeSean. Kevin's injury this year opened the door for Maclin. Taking a FS or CB early this year doesn't mean that guy will be the starter. Rookies can get you killed. We've mixed them in when needed, but prefer to rely on other players.
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20 comments:

shlynch said...

One thing that will be interesting is to see how McDermott and the FO approach the first real offseason with him as DC.

What is McDermott's kind of player? JJ seemed to believe that if you got the line and secondary right, the LBs would sort themselves out and he could just scheme around that. McDermott doesn't seem to have that kind of confidence. He seemed to be asking his LBs to do more. Does that mean he will want more emphasis placed on LBs, or will he be looking for LBs of a certain type? What does a McDermott style DL look like? CB? S?

You'd think there would be a lot of similarities to a JJ style player, but it doesn't have to be identical.

Further, is Brian Stewart his cup of tea as a permanent assistant, or was he just the most experienced guy who was available? If a guy like Greg Blache becomes available (he was JJ's former DL coach in Indy), does he come and serve as an in-house mentor and DL coach?

I'm not saying there will be wholesale changes, or even any changes, to what we had this year. But right now we don't know much about what his defense is supposed to look like if he gets to pick the players, just what he did with the players that he had.

Tommy Lawlor said...

Great points, my friend.

Dead on. Sean does want some changes from the way JJ did things. It will be interesting to see what they are.

Dan said...

Tommy, do you think Aaron Kampmann is a legit FA target? Or too much of a question mark coming off injury?

Cliff said...

I think it would be really cool if we switched to a 3-4. I know that'd be like pressing the reset button because we'd have to find a lot of new players, but I'd like to see something fresh.

Green Bay made a good transition to the 3-4. Was this season their first in the new D or last season? I can't remember. Anyway, I know that's just sort of a "fun topic," so I won't drag it out.

I wonder if losing so badly to a division-rival TWICE adds a little extra motivation to making a move like signing Peppers. In other words, are we more willing now to dish out the extra bucks (and there will be LOTS of extra bucks) for a FA like Peppers?

Lawrence said...

That is an awesome point, I agree. LB has never been a priority, the last time we even picked one in the second round would have been Matt McCoy (sorry) to my recollection. Stew was a find in the 3rd. I wonder if we would still be stinging from the way Anthony Spencer played if Stewart was on the field and had a great year. As it is, that trade is going to be talked about a lot as part of our undoing unless Stew makes us forget.

Cliff: This year was the first for GB under Capers - so first year in 3/4.

Just wanted to say thanks to Tommy and everyone - back before the internet I'd have been in a lot more pain right now. Old fashion Newspaper reporters can't report on this stuff the way Tommy does - with the compassion and the feeling that we are all in this together as fans. It helps in getting over the lows like last weekend. I am grateful for this site.

Ben said...

^ Agreed. Great season of reading. Thanks Tommy.

Now to a whole lot of draft and off season stuff.

geoff said...

I agree on all these points. What alot of people need to realize is that even JJ had a learning curve. It took him awhile I'm sure to get adjusted to what he wanted to do in the league. He was already in the league for quite awhile before Andy brought him in to be our DC.
I'm interested to see what changes McDermott makes this of season.
I want to see something fresh too. Not necessarily th 3-4 but something. The good news is we were still one of the better defenses, not top 10, and we a good amount of sacks and take aways.

Baloophi said...

I don't think switching to the 3-4 is a wise move for our team. Our coaching staff isn't familiar with the details of it. Better to see what McD does as he gets his type of players and our other players get healthy... if that ever happens.

Mike said...

"That was due to individual mistakes as well as communication breakdowns that left us dazed and confused." - Nice Led Zep reference.

Just wanted to say that I've really enjoyed your writing over the course of the past season, and I'm looking forward to your thoughts as we move through the off-season. "Eagles Blitz" has become my favorite Eagles-related/NFL blog. Keep up the great work!

Jason said...

How do you see things ending up at the safety positions? The last two years we have drafted mid round guys who have shown that they are serviceable but neither has shown the ability to make a play. On one hand, given that both Demps and Harris are so young, it's understandable that they have not shown anything spectacular yet. On the other hand, by not doing anything, we leave ourselves open to the possibility that maybe Demps and/or Harris will never develop.

In addition to Demps and Harris, Mikell will be 30 next season and after a great 2008 season, really was unimpressive for most of the season. Add to that the uncertainty of Sean Jones' future here. IMO, with all that in mind, safety has to be one of the top priorities in the offseason after LDE. I also think that we have to target either a quality vet in FA or a high draft pick that we think can come in and contribute immediately.

izzylangfan said...

While some Eagles fans want to focus on the linebackers as the major problem on defense I heartily disagree. First of all our defensive backs played terribly this year getting beat far too often and that includes both Sheldon and Asante not withstanding the other things they can do well.

But the big problem is the defensive line. We get little pass pressure when we do not blitz and basically no pressure up the middle. That is why teams with better QB's beat us so easily - they know the blitz is comming and they easily adjust. We all love Bunk and Patt. Isn't it just great that we have two two-gap DT's? I don't think so if they cant close down the pocket and prevent the QB from stepping up. Yes, they do well against the run but the pass is the thing. Ask Andy Reid! We need more than just a LDE.

By the way if you are going to blitz you need press coverage. When you force the QB to throw early, shouldn't the receivers be covered early?

T_S_O_P said...

Could you pen any thoughts on the running game?

In 2002, Duce had nearly as many carries (269) alone as McCoy, Weaver and Westy (286) put together in 2009 and still left enough for a rookie Westy and aging Levens to get a significant number of carries (46 and 75 respctively)

Even if you throw in the Wildcat, we showd very little commitment to the run game.

In a record breaking year for the offense, not one of our RBs had a 100 yard performance or a game where they carried the ball over 20 times in a game. I think also a record for the Reid era.

We ranked 28th in the league in terms of Rushing Attempts per Game. That's poop.

Cliff said...

@ Baloophi

Agree on the 3-4. I was just theorizing.

Edward said...

Does the 2-gap system even allow DT's to get much of a pass rush? Are they not slowed too much by their responsibilities?

Bunk at least seems to have the measurables to rush the passer, quick and strong. Is it the system?

Pitmanite said...

just listened to mark schlereth on 610 and he said a lot, but i'll try to summarize.

schlereth:
"andy's a good coach, but i would hate to play for him. i don't care who you are as a lineman...you can't ask guys to drop back 40 to 45 times per game and not give up sacks (esp to guys like demarcus ware & a. spencer). if you ran the ball and were pounding demarcus ware and a. spencer all game, late in the 3rd & 4th quarter when you're throwing the ball, they'd be much less effective rushing the passer.

when you throw the ball as much as the eagles do, you don't wear anyone out. you don't let your lineman pound on the defense to soften them up, so pass rushers are fresh all game and can just pin their ears back and attack the QB. and don't tell me that a screen is an extension of the running game because it's not. screens & draws are screens & draws...they're not the same as a base running play. additionally, in this type of offense you can expect to struggle in short yardage and in the redzone."

i'll add that it doesn't help when you're QB isn't a guy who gets rid of the ball quickly and accurately to open guys. anyway, i know this is a nat'l sports guy who doesn't watch us every game, but he's a former player who knows something about offensive line play. furthermore, he was pretty spot on in echoing everything we complain about!! i just don't know why Andy can't see it.

Myron said...

Those are some great comments by Mark.

Ironically, wasn't Andy a lineman at one time too?

izzylangfan said...

@Pitmanite

Exactly. There have been plenty of games where McNabb gets sacked three times that we have won. When you pass so much you are going to pay the price with a few sacks. Sacks are not the problem in themselves. However, by our failure to run we not make our opponents pay price physically and we are at a disadvantage in a close game at the end. Our opponents are not worn out and already have something of a strategic advantage when they know we have to pass. If we do run, our offensive line is not in a rhythm. You end up becoming a finesse team if you don't take it to your opponents early.

Cliff said...

What the hell is Les Bowen talking about in today's Daily News?

Sometime in the next month or so, word is going to filter out that the Birds have approached either Donovan McNabb or Kevin Kolb's agents about a contract extension. That ought to tell us who's likely to be the starting QB.

Uh, McNabb already got an extension. And of course the team will approach Kolb about one. So basically, whatever the Eagles do there'll be "controversy."

Brendan said...

@Cliff

Donny didn't get an extension they just added more cash to his current deal. If he were to play this upcoming season without signing an extension he would be a lame duck. The Birds have to extend either Kolb or D-Mac's contract, no QB plays on the last year of their deal.

Edward said...

Les is basically saying.

"Donny and Kolb are signed for on remaining season each. Whoever is approached for a contract extension, which will be leaked, is the Eagles QB for 2011 and almost definitely 2010."