August 5, 2016 |
A new defense, position, and coaching staff should, theoretically, give Marcus Smith a new lease on his fluttering NFL career. The third-year defensive end is approaching this season with that premise. And who can blame him? If Smith didn't believe this was his chance to finally deliver upon the promise of the draft, then he might as well join first-round busts like Danny Watkins in the real world. "I want at least 10 sacks, 10 [tackles for loss], and at least four interceptions," Smith said when asked for his 2016 goals.
June 5, 2016 |
BRANDON GRAHAM said that when he talks or texts with Fletcher Cox, he is careful not to ask when Cox plans to report for duty with the Eagles. "I try to be a friend and not really talk to him about that. I don't want him to think I'm the police," Graham said Friday as the Eagles wrapped up the optional part of their spring work. Players gather Monday for physicals, before a mandatory three-day minicamp starts Tuesday. Those are the last sessions before training camp, and the only mandatory part of the offseason setup.
May 31, 2016 |
Brandon Graham wonders sometimes how his first six seasons with the Eagles might have been different if not for the revolving door that welcomed and discarded defensive coordinators. "Especially that last year when coach [Andy] Reid was here," Graham said last week after a practice session at the NovaCare Complex. "It was my first time starting after my injury and I ended up getting 51/2 sacks and I really felt like I was headed in the right direction. And then, bam, here comes the 3-4. " Few members of the Eagles have fond memories of that 2012 season, which was Reid's last in Philadelphia.
May 27, 2016 |
THE WORDS that have been used to describe Marcus Smith during his first two NFL seasons haven't been very flattering. Bust. Mistake. Disappointment. He has seen them on social media. He has read them online and in the newspapers. He has heard them on the radio and at the Linc on game day. Bust. Mistake. Disappointment. Imagine somebody doing that to you. Imagine them coming to your place of employment, insulting you and telling you in very explicit language that you suck.
May 13, 2016 |
When the Eagles switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense in 2013, only two of eight regulars on the line had any NFL experience playing in an odd-man front. The unit, as coordinator Bill Davis explained it, was going from one end of the spectrum (a wide-nine-based 4-3) to the other (a two-gap-based 3-4). He preached patience, but even Mother Teresa would have been tested by a transition that ultimately fell short of expectations. Three years later, the Eagles are making the trip back to a wide-nine-based 4-3 under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
April 21, 2016 |
THE LAST TIME the Wide 9 was seen in these parts, it was helping grease the skids for Andy Reid's firing and being excoriated as a bad-awful defensive alignment that seemingly sacrificed everything else for the sake of sacks. The Wide 9, a deployment in which the defensive ends line up near the mezzanine-level concession stands so they can burn rubber around the offensive tackles and beat them to the quarterback, was brought to the Eagles in 2011 by Jim Washburn, who was hired as the team's defensive line coach shortly after Reid came up with the really, really dumb idea to make his longtime offensive line coach, Juan Castillo, his new defensive coordinator.
February 5, 2016 |
Jim Johnson referred to defensive linemen who could get after the quarterback as "fastballs," and the former Eagles coordinator liked to throw as many of them as he could. Vinny Curry, whose singular identifiable NFL skill is that he can cause an awful lot of havoc in the backfield, would have been Johnson's kind of guy. There are some other things at which he might not be as proficient, but for a defensive coach who believes the most important job is making the opposing quarterback uncomfortable, Curry is a valuable card to hold.
January 6, 2016 |
AS THE Eagles struggled through three seasons of their Chip Kelly-dictated 3-4 defense, there was always speculation about whether they'd be better off running a 4-3 setup, as they did for 14 years under Andy Reid. It was useless speculation, because Kelly wanted his offense to work against a single high safety 3-4, the defense he thought was the toughest match for an attack that tried to spread the field from sideline to sideline. Even if Kelly had jettisoned defensive coordinator Bill Davis somewhere along the way, as so many fans urged, Kelly would have burdened Davis' successor with the same system.
January 3, 2016 |
I COME TO bury lame-duck Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis, but also to praise him, something that no doubt will enrage Eagles fans who are sure Davis is a main reason their team missed the playoffs the past two seasons. Davis' group disintegrated in the second half of this, his third season on the job. The Birds' "D" was never really strong at any point in the Chip Kelly-Davis era, but the ugly numbers the Eagles put up down the stretch this season - with what should have been Davis' most talented cast, best-suited to his 3-4 scheme - are historic.
December 31, 2015 |
Marcus Smith played only 91 defensive snaps for the Eagles this season. He has five tackles and one-half sack. The 2014 first-round pick only had one tackle as a rookie. "Marcus has got to continue to get better," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said Tuesday. "There hasn't been a whole lot of production yet. We're still working and Marcus is working hard at it and hopefully we can get some production from him. " The Eagles used a three-man rotation at outside linebacker last season with Trent Cole, Connor Barwin, and Brandon Graham.