Saturday, May 1, 2010

Early Thoughts on New Defense

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The Eagles traded for Ernie Sims to be the new WLB.  He's 6'1, 225 and excels on the move and in coverage.  In the draft they added Keenan Clayton, a very similar type of player.  He was taken in the 4th round.  That shows that they really valued the guy and he wasn't just a late round project.  The backup MLB they took in the draft, Jamar Chaney, isn't a 260-pound run stuffer.  He's 6'1, 245 and real athletic.  He also is good in coverage. 

The team promoted Moise Fokou to be the starting SAM linebacker.  He's 6'2 and now weighs about 238 pounds.  He doesn't have the bulk/power of Chris Gocong, but he's good on the move and is more natural in coverage. 

What does all of this mean? 

I think Sean McDermott sees the new look of the NFL.  A few years back we intentionally made the defense bigger.  Parcells was in Dallas and they had a power running game.  Gibbs was in WAS and they were trying to build a power running game.  The Giants had Brandon Jacobs running wild.  Things have changed.  Tony Romo is the key to the Cowboys offense.  Mike Shanahan will run a lot in DC, but it isn't the traditional power rushing attack.  Brandon Jacobs might be on the decline in NY. 

We went 11-5 last year.  Think about the losses. 

NO
OAK
DAL
SD
DAL

We lost to Brees, Romo, and Rivers.  The Oakland game was an anomaly, but we can even learn from that.  The big play was the pass to the TE.  He beat Trotter over the middle.  Asante had the worst tackle attempt in NFL history.  No one was able to chase him down.  We needed more speed in the middle of the defense. 

Who was in the Super Bowl?  Brees and Manning.  Elite passing QBs.  You might counter that the NFL has been a passing league for a while.  That's true, but things are changing.  Passing attacks are getting better.  10 QBs completed 65 percent of their passes this year.  Think about that.  In 2002 that number was 4. 

Think about Manning and Brees.  Peyton beat the Ravens and their aggressive front seven in the playoffs.  Then he beat the Jets.  They had the best D in the league and a true shutdown type CB in Darrelle Revis.  Drew ate up the Vikings and their outstanding D-line. 

Those QBs get the ball out quickly.  It is hard to rush them.  They are deadly accurate.  You can have great coverage and still not stop them.  Remember the sideline throw from Brees to Devery Henderson against us?  Great throw.  Phenomenal catch.  Sheldon Brown was all over Henderson, but it didn't make a difference. 

Dallas drove us crazy with WR screens.  You aren't going to stop that play with a DE or CB.  You need pursuit to shut that down. 

I think Sean McDermott sees all of this and is trying to change the defense up a bit.  He loaded up on DEs.  He wants guys who can get to the QB without blitzing.  He sacrificed size at the LB level to improve our speed and coverage ability.  I don't see any change at the DB level.  I'm sure we wanted a top shelf CB, but weren't able to solve that situation...yet.  We had to have pass rushers and LBs.  We got them when they were available. 

Stewart Bradley made mention in an interview that we'd be doing some new things on defense.  He didn't get specific.  Don't look for drastic changes, but it will be interesting to see how Sean has changed things in his 2nd year with the new personnel we've added. 

I know people are worried about the D.  I think we'll have a better D-line.  I know the LB play will be better.  3/4 of the secondary should be better.  RCB is a major hole at this point, but let's see what happens.  I think we've got a chance to be pretty good. 


MORE MINI-CAMP STUFF

King Dunlap was running as the backup RT yesterday.  Interesting.  I've always thought of him as a LT.  He reportedly is now 325 pounds.  He looked solid in drills, but the question for him is always live action.  He's never been physical enough in the past.  Maybe the new size will help. 

Rookie FA Austin Howard was the backup LT.  Again, interesting.  He has real good potential.  Juan Castillo has to coach him up. 

Andy Reid made it sound in his PC like there was no competition at OC.  He said Nick Cole is the Center.  They are trying to see what McGlynn can do, but I found it odd that Reid didn't see a competition for that job. 

Alex Hall is playing DE for now.  I don't like that.  He looked more like a LB to me.  We'll see where he is in Training Camp. 

We did find out that Victor Abiamiri had microfracture knee surgery.  He'll be out for a while now.  There's no guarantee he plays in 2010.  This poor guy can't stay healthy.  It used to be Buck.  Then McDougle.  Now VA.  Who's next? 
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10 comments:

Myron said...

"Think about Manning and Brees. Peyton beat the Ravens and their aggressive front seven in the playoffs. Then he beat the Jets. They had the best D in the league and a true shutdown type CB in Darrelle Revis. Drew ate up the Vikings and their outstanding D-line."

This doesn't exactly sound like an endorsement for the plan Andy has of improving the D-Line at the expense of the secondary, no?

If you watched the AFCCG in which Manning beat the Jets' #1 defense, the sole reason he was able to do so was because outside of Revis, their CBs are mediocre. If they had even one other elite CB, Manning's #2 and #3 receivers would have been mostly shut down. Watch the Jets in 2010. With the addition of Cromartie and Wilson, their passing defense could be historically good next year.

When you look at the Jets last year, and their current strategy to add more cornerbacks at the expense of pass-rushers (they passed on Jerry Hughes to draft Kyle Wilson), wouldn't you think that perhaps drafting potentially elite DBs is more important than drafting potentially elite DEs to shut down the passing attack?

izzylangfan said...

Why don't we give Trevard Lindley a chance. It is pretty clear that he was first or second round talent had he come out a year earlier. He decided to stay and got hurt. I like the quiet confidence of this man.

That said I would have preferred the team to draft two CBs highly. I feel corner back play and to a lesser extent safety play are the biggest unknowns to the Eagles season and to the defense returning to elite status.

Jason said...

@Myron

I think you can look at it either way. If you have a strong DLine that can generate a pass rush on their own, you can put more LBs and blitzers in coverage. When you don't generate enough of a pass rush, no matter who you have covering receivers, the guy will eventually get open. Obviously, ideally you have both, but in an imperfect situation, you have to decide which is more important.

For JJ, I would argue that the CB play was more important, hence we often had multiple pro bowler caliber DBs. Also, he knew that a pass rush was important so would send complex blitz packages to disrupt the rhythm of the QB.

We still don't know exactly what SM's style of coaching will be for sure, but he very well may value the pass rush over the CB play. Last year we blitzed an enormous amount. I will be very interested to see if we can eventually blitz less and put more people back in coverage. If that's the case, you can cover up the deficiencies of the weaker DBs by adding help with double coverage or complex zones with improved coverage LBs. In many ways, this is the same as covering up weak Dlines with complex blitzes.

Obviously, the logic could be flawed, especially if Graham and possibly Tapp are not able to really improve the pass rush, but I have to imagine that unless they make a significant move at CB before the season, that must be their plan, at least for now.

T_S_O_P said...

A bit tough on Minny's D Tommy, their only indiscression was Red Zone D, otherwise away from home in a dome, they were great in holding Brees under 200 yards and 55% and the rushing offense under 75 yards as well as 3 of 12 on 3rd down coversion.

I think Brees can thank the +4 takeaway margin in the game for the victory more than the way he ate up their D, which by his standards on the season was way below par.

Steven said...

@izzylangfan

I thought the same thing about Jack Ikegwuonu. Look where that got us

arby said...

"We did find out that Victor Abiamiri had microfracture knee surgery. He'll be out for a while now. There's no guarantee he plays in 2010."

which makes the 3rd rd. pick more understandable now... good job by the FO of downplaying his injury.

em26jamie said...

Brees didn't eat up the Vikings. The Vikings dominated the game and blew it in the end. And the refs had the worst OT in NFL history. I may be an Eagles fan, but I'm also a football fan, and I'm still a little ticked at the refs at the end of that game.

Steven said...

@em26jamie

I was sorta happy for the Minn loss, I didnt want to hear anymore Brett Favre bullshit

Anders said...

Just me there love to watch the drills, they show on PE.com?

Edward said...

Macho is by far my favourite player on Defense. Watching him in the Coverage drills he looked pretty good, few slip ups maybe but he really seemed to have the recovery speed. Showed it against basket, got back to him in no time after being wrong footed. Can't wait to see him year 2.