Eagles Notes: Eagles, Chip Kelly still not revealing plans for defense

Chip Kelly wouldn't commit to a defensive scheme: "I really think it's going to be an evolving thing." AP
Chip Kelly wouldn't commit to a defensive scheme: "I really think it's going to be an evolving thing." AP
Posted: February 23, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS - Chip Kelly appeared no closer to deciding on a defensive scheme, or at least revealing his plans publicly.

There are obvious reasons Kelly has been reluctant to tip his hand, even though new defensive coordinator Bill Davis has worked primarily with 3-4 schemes and employed a 4-3 "under" in Arizona that looked like an odd-man front.

The uncertainty allows the Eagles to obscure their plans in free agency and the draft.

"I really think it's going to be an evolving thing," Kelly said Thursday at the NFL combine. "And again, it's personnel-driven."

All signs, however, point to a hybrid defense that will feature elements of a 3-4, such as having a nose tackle and a stand-up rusher. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said he may already have a nose tackle on his roster in Antonio Dixon.

"I don't think any question about it," Roseman said. "That's his skill set. He has good use of his hands. He's a run-stopper."

The 6-foot-3, 322-pound Dixon was cut before last season, played two games for the Colts, and was brought back by the Eagles in late December.

As for the stand-up rusher - called "the predator" in Davis' system with the Cardinals - Roseman said that defensive ends Trent Cole and Brandon Graham were potential candidates. Some teams projected Graham as an outside linebacker before the 2010 draft.

"I think he can do that," Roseman said. "He can play. He can rush the passer. He can hold the edge. He can play in space."

There is a middle linebacker in Davis' 4-3 "under," but that player is asked to take on more blockers than he would in a traditional 4-3. DeMeco Ryans was one of the few bright spots in the middle of the Eagles defense. Kelly lauded the 28-year-old, who is slated to earn $6.6 million this season.

"He really plays the game the way you want it to be played, and I think from listening to the people in the building there's a quality about him you want to be around," Kelly said.

Optimism on Peters

While Kelly has been evasive on Jason Peters' return from a ruptured Achilles tendon, Roseman painted a better picture and said that the all-pro tackle is expected to be back by the start of the season.

"For lack of a better term, he's a freak," Roseman said. "He was able to do some things that not many people on this earth could do. For us, it's exciting to get that kind of talent back."

Extra points

Roseman said Kelly wants the Eagles to stress height, weight, and speed in the draft. "At the same token, a good football player is a good player," Roseman said. . . . New Chiefs coach Andy Reid was on the podium immediately after Kelly and Roseman. Reid, who offered advice to Kelly as he considered the Eagles job, spoke with his successor for about 10 minutes afterward.

Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

Zach Berman contributed to this article.

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