Monday, March 22, 2010

Gap Talk and Some Loose Ends


Adam Caplan of has opened up a can of confusion via Twitter.  Someone asked about us cutting Darren Howard.  Here was Caplan's response:

They need a one-gap disruptive DL that's younger. RT @bleedeaglesfan: @caplannfl Howard was not in a decline.

Later on that led to these Tweets:

Yep, Reid confirmed it. Actually asked him yesterday. 90% 1-gap. RT @NFLGoEagles: @caplannfl Sure about your one gap DT idea?

Nope, said they have been mostly one-gap. RT @eaglesnut: @caplannfl - Did Reid say the Eagles are going back to 1-gap?

Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of all this.  Caplan is a pretty bright guy when it comes to football.  I feel safe that he knows the difference in 1-gap and 2-gap.  However, there are some real mixed areas being covered. 

The initial question was about Darren Howard being cut.  Darren played DT in the Nickel/Dime units.  That group does play 1-gap.  Our base defense is the group that would play 2-gap.  Howard wasn't part of that group. 

The key point then becomes what Caplan asked Reid.  If he asked about finding a replacement for Howard that would be a 1-gap DT.  That's what Darren was.  If Caplan asked Reid about the base defense and was told that we played 90% 1-gap then I am highly confused.  That wasn't the case in 2008.  That group did play 2-gap.  Watch the tape and you'll see it.  Pete Jenkins was the D-line coach and that is his specialty. 

Could there have been a change last year that I missed?  Possible, I guess.  The tape sure didn't look to me like we were playing 1-gap.  Our guys weren't firing off the ball and trying to get penetration on a consistent basis.  Bunk and Patt are more athletic than you might think.  They would make more plays if allowed to attack upfield consistently. 

We did play 1-gap for most of the Reid era.  Maybe Caplan asked and Reid responded along those lines.  The final possibility is that we'll be playing a 1-gap system in 2010 and there was just mis-communication about that. 

I'm trying to find out a good answer, but haven't gotten anything concrete so far.  I'll continue to check into this.  Could be a really interesting change if we do play 1-gap in 2010.  Trevor Laws would be a very happy man. 


RE:  Fokou at SAM

That is where he played last year.  That is where the Eagles want him.  Moise wasn't physically overmatched last year.  His mistakes were due to inexperience, not a lack of size or talent.  He's now up to 236 pounds.  That added bulk will help him anchor vs the run.  He's still athletic enough to cover plenty of ground and be an effective pass defender. 

RE:  covering TEs

We've done that in a variety of ways the last few years.  In 2008 we had Akeem Jordan and Quintin Mikell focus on TEs in the last 6 or 8 games.  They did a good job and the defense was terrific.  In 2009 we struggled mightily until Will Witherspoon was given that task.  He did a good job on TEs.  I'm not sure how McDermott wants to handle them this year. 

RE:  Sheldon

I love what he's done for the Eagles in his time here, but there is a real strong chance he's played his last game for us.  He was a good soldier last year and didn't complain publicly, but he wants more money and the Eagles just don't think he's worth it.  The best thing for both sides is probably to part ways.  We'll get younger at RCB and he might get someone to pony up some extra dough.  No matter what, Sheldon wasn't going to be here long.  He's a bit short, lacks ideal speed, and is on the wrong side of 30.  At some point he'll go over the cliff.  I'd love to move him to FS, but Sheldon is a proud man and I don't think he wants to do that. 

RE:  Plan B at SAM?

If the team trades Gocong  you can bet they'll add someone in the draft for depth.  We all love AJ Edds from Iowa.  He's a very talented guy with size and coverage ability. 

RE:  McNabb to SF

I've sniffed around on this issue, but I've always heard that Mike Singletary was truly committed to Alex Smith as his QB.  I think SF is an ideal spot for McNabb and he's just what that team needs.  They have a good D, but scoring points is a major challenge.  The NFC West is wide open right now.  Why not make the deal and make a push for the playoffs?  I haven't heard anything that makes me think a deal is likely.  My fingers are crossed, though.

RE:  Jim Johnson adjusting in division games / in the season

There are various reasons why the defense went down hill and McDermott's lack of experience I'm sure didn't help matters.  Still, the biggest problems we had were personnel issues.  Go back and watch the games.  There was poor tackling.  Players took bad angles and missed assignments.  And on and on and on.  The struggles were more about the guys on the field than the man on the sideline.  I wish that wasn't true.  It would be easier to train a coach than replace players. 

RE:  Jerry Hughes at LB?

The Eagles could try to use him ala Brian Orakpo.  Hughes is shorter, but has a similar build.  He is a terrific athlete.  This is an idea that I'm sure the coaches and FO are talking about, even if it isn't likely. 


mcud77 said...

Old news, but now its official. Eagles receive two compensatory picks in the upcoming draft, both in the 7th round.

Noah said...

Here's a possibility. Assuming that Reid meant there will be a change to a 1-gap system for 2010, there must have been a reason for almost exclusivly 2-gap from our base D in 2009.

Perhaps it was because McD was trying to cover up his LBs? Considering the devastating loss of Stew in the middle, it would make sense to use our fantastic DTs in a manner that would help hide our revolving door at LB in 2009. If so, then I stand up and start a slow-clap for McD, who utilized what he had at the fullest.

And, I cower upon imagining what our D would have been if we only played 1-gap in '09. We'd see a lot more of Joe Mays/Omar Gaither/Chris Gocong/The Axe Man/'Spoon on the ground.

Damn you are good

Myron said...

Tommy, maybe they WERE playing 1-gap but Bunk and Patt just can't get to the QB anymore. Maybe they're kind of, uh, spent.

I was watching this video:

Where the draft "experts" like Trent Dilfer and Mel Kiper discuss the various needs of teams in the upcoming draft, and they basically say that the Eagles need upgrades in every position "up the middle": DT, LB, and S. They specifically mention DT as an area of need, despite the presence of Bunk and Patt.

Edward said...

There is no way that 4th and 5th year players are 'spent'. I'm really hoping its because they're playing 2-gap.

I just asked Adam Caplan on twitter. Unlikely to get a reply I imagine.

Cliff said...

Myron, I'm sure you know by now, Mel Kiper is never to be trusted. Under no circumstances.

Cliff said...

The Eagles get two 7th round comp picks. I want to bring this up because there was a bogus story going around that the Eagles paid (and will keep) Vick this year because they think they will get more for him in compensatory picks than in a trade this off-season.

These comp picks are a great example of why that was B.S. (I think it originated at the National Football Post). We lost Brian Dawkins, Buck, and Tra Thomas (who didn't play much though) to other teams and only get a couple last-round picks.

RDW said...

I think the Vick comments on accepting a compensory pick were versus getting only a 5th for him. IN that event I'd keep him as well. He wasn't great in the wildcat but started to get better before he hurt his leg. I'd take the chance he can take another step back rather than a 5th rounder

RDW said...

I disagree Fokou can play SAM. At 6-1,236 Jason Witten will toy with him. With him ans Assante on the same side Dallas will continue to run that way.

Myron said...

That's why I'm thinking this: Jerry Hughes as SAM.

He's 6'2", 255lbs, and runs a 4.5 40 at that size. He's also a great athlete with fluid movement and great hips as evidenced by his combine performance, and he's a prolific pass-rusher as evidenced by his college stats.

The more I think about it, the more I am intrigued by this idea of putting Hughes in as a LB. If we have Darryl Tapp starting on the LDE side, he's great against the run even if he isn't the best pass rusher. He'll be the first line of defense against the run on the left side. With Hughes on the same side, you also get an explosive pass-rusher in addition to a great athlete that can drop into coverage and a LB who is big enough @ 255lbs to deal with tight ends like Jason Witten, and big running backs like Brandon Jacobs.

WILL(??) --- MIKE(Bradley) --- SAM (Hughes)

That's a 254lb MIKE, and a 255lb SAM, and then whoever you plug in @ WILL. That's alot more beef @ LB than we had this year.

eagles nut said...

Caplan on his twitter says the Eagls play one-gap in their base defense. I don't know exactly what he asked Reid but I believe he's wrong. We played predominately one-gap when Tommy Brasher was the D-line coach but transitioned to 2-gap under Pete Jenkins.

Chris said... is reporting Jerry Hughes is coming here for a visit so they are taking a pretty good look at him.

T_S_O_P said...

Tommy, were we always 1-2-2-1 in terms of gap control when Mr LSU took over the line?

I'm sure I remember, in the (n)ever so popular front 7 blog in TATE, talk that originally we were 1-2-1-2 in terms of gap responsibility. Do you remember this? Did Jenkins switch it up? Did it never happen?

I wish we'd mix things up in our base alignment; could switching between 1-2-2-1 and 1-2-1-2 do this?

Final thought, as so many teams pinned their ears back and went after our oh so predictable offense this year, maybe Big Red thinks that all DTs have 1-gap responsibility.

RDW said...

Hughes is very interesting but might not be a SAM. Reports I've read have him primarily as a rush LB and his sack stats support that notion. While skills are critical so is experience and football IQ. GoCong is also a terrific athlete, not as fast as Hughes, but a near 4.0 with an engineering degree. He was unable to master the passing game or even slide over to MLB. He was also more of a DE. The SAM LB has to be able to read and react immediately in order to play the position. Witten only needs a second of indecision and all the speed in the world won't matter. You might be right but Reid has to nail this down before using a #1. My preference is Weatherspoon over Hughes and if he's gone best athlete at FS, DE or CB and get Edds at #87. AJ isn't the same talent level but has proven he plays the position very well.

I would not be shocked if Reid doesn't see value at #24 he trades out. Using the charts a 24 would be roughly worth Oaklands 2nd and 3rd. That's 40 and 72. I'd be very happy to get Nate Allen at 40 and then take one of the CB prsopects at 72. There are a number of skilled speedsters expected to fall because they're raw or need work on some phase. Let them play nickel and learn behind Sheldon.

Christian said...

I started somehow the 1 or 2 gap confusion by sending this tweet to AdamCaplan.

@caplannfl Sure about your one gap DT idea? All you hear about Laws is that he is limited by the 2 gap System the Eagles use.

I was confused by his response as well. So my tweet is just part of the confusion.

Myron said...

Can someone explain to me again why they never once tried to play Gocong as a pure DE instead of LB?

I mean, they never even tried to install him at his original position, right?

RDW said...

GoCong was doing fine as long as Jim Johnson was there. He was the starting SAM LB on the 2008 D that was ranked #3. He did come out on the nickel packages but that's not unusual. That D with GoCong and Bradley as well as the stout DTs was excellent against the run. I don't have the timeline for the injuries to Jordan and GoCong but it seems they and the team were doing well before they got hurt and then never bounced back when they returned. They lost Johnson and Bradley while Jordan, GoCong and Brown were limited.

The fact the Eagles only tendered GoCong at his draft position indicated McDermott has lost confidence in GoCong. With the Eagles you can't know if he was limited because he was playing injured. Apparently not. The consensus is he's a 3-4 OLB being undersized as a 4-3 DE. When he was drafted a number of scouts were surprised the Eagles intended to convert a guy who rarely dropped back to play SAM.

Edward said...

he replied to my tweet, says the base dl plays 1-gap 'as it has been for years. is he just flat wrong about that?

mcud77 said...

Notice how in today's interview, Howie Roseman aluded to the fact that this year's draft was not deep at QB. I imagine this isn't the first person he has said this to...

arby said...

All this gap talk and nary a mention of Michael Strahan or David Letterman......?

Netherman said...

Just curious, but even with the Tapp pick up, what would it hurt to still grab Burgess. I think we are still a bit thin there and want to leave us open to get BPA in early thin as we are now, I think DE is still a priority in the first couple rounds at the moment.