Defense seeks way to beat no-huddle

Posted: August 04, 2012

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Training camp is for trying out new things.

The Eagles are experimenting with a different way to relay plays to their defense, especially when an opponent switches to the hurry-up offense.

"We're not huddling as much as we did last year," linebacker Casey Matthews said Friday. "Last year we huddled and the [middle linebacker] would be the only one looking for the call. This year, with offenses going at such a quicker pace, we're all just looking at the call."

Traditionally, the middle linebacker - who is also hearing the call in his headset - looks to the sideline to receive the signal from a coach. Last year, safeties coach Mike Zordich relayed defensive coordinator Juan Castillo's calls to Matthews and Jamar Chaney. The linebacker then calls the play in the huddle and the players get into position.

Several teams, however, including the Patriots, tripped up the Eagles defense last year when they unfurled the no-huddle and the plays were coming in too late.

"They want everyone to line up faster instead of having the [middle linebacker] look over, get the call, break the huddle, and get the front lined up," said Matthews, who is backing up the newly acquired DeMeco Ryans in the middle. "They just want everything to be faster because last year it seemed like sometimes the call would get in late because teams would disguise personnel till the last second."

Basically, the defense is handling its pre-snap business as if the offense is always in the two-minute drill. In between plays, the players stand close to where they will position themselves at the snap. Matthews and Chaney said they aren't sure if the defense will conduct itself this way for the entire game. On Friday, the defense huddled up in team drills for the first time this camp.

"As a defense, Juan said, you don't want the offense dictating the pace," Chaney said. "If they want to go hurry-up, we got an adjustment for it. We can just turn to the sideline and get a signal and be ready to play like that."

In college, many defenses have all their players on the field look to the sideline to see the play call because there is no headset for the middle linebacker to wear. Ryans will still make the call and still align the front four, though. "It's good because everybody needs to know the signals anyway because you never know what can happen with the headset," Chaney said.

Play of the day

Chris Polk darted through a large hole and zoomed 50-plus yards against the first-team defense. The rookie running back zoomed by safety Jaiquawn Jarrett, who was filling in for the injured Nate Allen, and then stiff-armed cornerback Curtis Marsh at the end of his run, adding an additional 10 yards.

Bird brains

Jon Runyan, much thinner that he was during his playing days, attended training camp Friday. The former Eagles tackle is now a congressman from New Jersey.


Contact Jeff McLane

at 215-854-4745,

or on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.


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