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.
December 31, 2015 |
THERE IS much more to coaching in the NFL than X's and O's, Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said Wednesday afternoon, some 16 hours following Jeffrey Lurie's stunning move to fire coach Chip Kelly. "The league," as Graham calls it, is a constant struggle among alpha males for power and respect. Throw the big salaries around and who knows what chaos could ensue? When he wins, the coach has cachet. When he loses, the daggers come out. So if Graham had his way, Lurie's next coach will have some NFL experience - something Kelly did not have before his hiring in January 2013.
December 30, 2015 |
The Eagles are not playing for a postseason bid on Sunday, but that won't change the way Chip Kelly approaches the Week 17 game against the New York Giants. He will not play younger players for the purpose of forming fuller evaluations. He offered no hint about shutting down veterans. Kelly is coaching to win the game, just as he did last season. "It's also not fair to a guy that's playing and saying, 'Hey, you're not going to play just because I want to take a look at this other guy,' " Kelly said.
December 24, 2015 |
There is something mysterious about Kiko Alonso. The mystery has nothing to do with how he has played this season. He has not played well. There is no mystery about that. Since making a spectacular end-zone interception against the Atlanta Falcons in the Eagles' first game, he has pretty much been invisible, and not merely because he was inactive for five games. He has not intercepted a pass since Week 1. He has not forced a fumble. He has not recovered a fumble. As a rookie with the Buffalo Bills in 2013, Alonso was a force at middle linebacker.
December 19, 2015 |
Like most pass-rushers, Brandon Graham likes a quarterback who's easy to find. Tom Brady. Eli Manning. Carson Palmer. He'd rather line up across from those quarterbacks, as accomplished and skilled as they are, than he would against one who can scurry and scramble and will abandon the pocket for the sake of saving himself and extending the play. Graham is one of the Eagles' two starting outside linebackers. He's tied for the team lead in sacks with 61/2. He prefers an immobile target.