Links and Answers

Posted: July 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 22 Comments »

For my newest column I wrote about Juan Castillo and the blitz – To Blitz, Or Not To Blitz.

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For SB Nation Philly, I wrote about our LB corps and the need for stability.

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Sheil Kapadia of Moving The Chains has up an excellent post on the Eagles, Mike Vick, and sacks from last year.

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Now to answer some comments from previous posts.

ATG and MF Joe wonder just how much the defense can change with the shortened offseason.  Part of the point in mixing in more of the Cover 2 is so that it simplifies the defense.  The Eagles, and all 32 teams, play Cover 2.  The Raiders probably play it less than anyone else.

The defensive linemen will have to adjust to a 1-gap attacking scheme with new launch points and rush angles, but that shouldn’t be a major problem.  Some of the players played in a similar scheme in college or with other teams.  Darryl Tapp, for instance, used to line up really wide at Va Tech.  This defense is like a homecoming for him.

The LBs won’t attack downhill at the snap as much.  They will spend a lot more time backed off the ball.  Juan Castillo has publicly said the LBs will have more of a read and react style.  That is different from last year, but isn’t so much a playbook change as style of play change.

I don’t know what to say about the secondary.  I’m guessing we play more zone since there will be so many young guys (thus the Cover 2 talk).

The shortened offseason would be hugely problematic if switching to a 3-4 or trying to implement some of the complex coverage ideas of a Rex Ryan.

Sjampen wondered about making the defense more mean, more physical.  Andy Reid knows the Eagles need to be tougher on the back end.  That’s one of the reasons he targeted Jaiquawn Jarrett.  We added a big CB in Curtis Marsh.  We added a physical run stuffer in Greg Lloyd Jr.  Big Red won’t go out and sign a bunch of head hunters.  That’s dumb in today’s NFL, but he did want guys that could be tough on runners and receiver.

izzylangfan had some technical questions about the defense.  The OLBs will line up further back off the ball, but more to the inside.  They won’t be setting the edge as much as they did in the past.  They will stay put at the snap and read the play.  As soon as they have it diagnosed, they attack the ball.  They should have good angles to the outside.  The key is to have proper depth so that you don’t get bunched at the line and create big running bubbles.  When that does happen, you need the DBs to attack and tackle well.  The motto for the LBs should be:  Look, find, run, hit.

What is the background of CBs coach Johnnie Lynn?  He played CB for the Jets in the late 70s and early to mid 80s.  That was a time of mainly man coverage.  He coached in college for a while.  He coached DBs under John Fox with the Giants.  I think that was a lot of press man with guys like Phillipi Sparks and Jason Sehorn.  Lynn ran the Giants D when Fox left.  He wasn’t great at that.  Lynn coached DBs with the Ravens for 2 years.  Again, lots of press man coverage.  Then he went with Mike Singletary to the Niners for a few years.  They played a lot of Cover 3, but liked physical CBs with size.

22 Comments on “Links and Answers”

  1. 1 Boyboy said at 4:45 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    Everything I’ve been reading about Cover 2 states that we want CBs who are good tacklers and strong in run support. Anyone see an issue here? lol

    Also, Tommy….curious about why you were against the Dhani Jones signing in 2004? In hindsight, we see how well that worked out for the Eagles. But everyone was aware he was playing out of position. He has been productive with both the Giants and the Bengals. Did you see him as a bad fit for our defense at that time?

  2. 2 McG said at 4:48 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    I definitely agree with ATG’s 1:08 am on July 12th.

    Tommy, thanks for doing such a great job answering questions!

    To me it seems like our Defense will get:
    1. More aggressive/dictate at the LOS
    2. More flexible/reactionary at the LB level
    3. Hard to tell with the DBs (but hopefully at least more physical, and letting Asante continue to do his thing)

    Speaking of Asante… did anyone else read recently where he is among the top DBs with regard to % consistency with tackling? Could that be a huge misconception?

  3. 3 Boyboy said at 4:59 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    I hadn’t seen that stat on Asante, but it’s very interesting. Can anyone find that article? Regardless, I love #22. I’ll concede tackling if a guy is going to pick off 8 passes a year and is a threat to score anytime he plucks one.

  4. 4 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:28 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    Asante’s tackling is a major issue and will always be a major issue. You learn to live with that because of his cover skills and INTs.

    RE: Dhani Jones

    I watched tape of him prior to the Eagles signing him and wrote that Dhani was mis-cast as a WLB (where the Giants played him). I felt he was too athletically limited to thrive out in space.

    I thought he could make a good MLB. He tackled well and wasn’t afraid to mix it up with blockers on the inside.

    Naturally, the Eagles signed him to play SAM. I had blind faith that JJ knew something I didn’t, but that wasn’t the case. Jones has always been a MLB, but the Eagles and Giants couldn’t see that. I’m not a huge fan of Dhani’s but give him a lot of credit for playing well in Cincy.

  5. 5 Boyboy said at 5:50 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    Just a follow up on Asante..even though tackling will be a weakness in a Cover 2 scheme, he should thrive at jumping short routes. I’ll be curious to see if his INTs go up. Of course, he has been known to drop a few potential picks.

  6. 6 CVD said at 6:33 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    I don’t see how they could be right about asante and tackling. Maybe because he never tries to tackle unless the guy doesn’t see him coming. Since he basically just stays away from attempting to tackle, he isn’t missing that many? He does a lot of reaching out for the guy as he just runs by him. Is that a missed tackle? I love asante though, his picks make up for it and he brings some swagger to our D. He played great last year. If he can give us that this year that will be huge. Because if we pick up a good RCB, he will see more balls come his way than he did last year.

    We have two huge playmakers that are basically the best in the nfl and the worst in the nfl at their jobs. Desean is the best at huge plays and probably one of the worst at just moving the chains or going over the middle and Asante is the best at picks and the worst at tackling.

  7. 7 Name said at 10:54 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    DeSean is the worst in the league at going over the middle? Of course you must be right. I must have imagined that time he got knocked unconscious while going over the middle.

  8. 8 Name said at 11:40 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    Reread the article… it’s not so much about Asante being an excellent tackler, but more about his value to the defense because when he is called upon to tackle he is reasonably successful at creating a “pass stop”.

    Clearly his primary value is as a ball hawk…

    Additionally interesting… Carlos Rogers gets some cred for being able to make pass stops.

  9. 9 ATG said at 2:15 AM on July 13th, 2011:

    Great articles, Tommy.

    I agree on developing our LBs. Partly because the guys the have picked look to be exciting possibilities and partly because there doesn’t seem to be any undoubted studs that will fit.

    I see your point that moving to more Cover 2 would not require a lot of time to implement. I just find it hard to believe that Castillo won the job by planning to do what has been done for years. I can see more zone, more consistency and less blitzing, but I hope it strongly has our own stamp on it.

    Actually, maybe we will get a new scheme named after us, ala the Tampa 2. “Philly trap” or “Phila-delta” or maybe it will be so good of a scheme that in five years it is just referred to as “defense” because everything else becomes obsolete. Once other teams pick it up, league-wide scoring drops by 10 points per game and Reid is the only one with whom Castillo shares the fatal flaw. Kafka, Maclin and Shady rule the offensive stats, the Eagles win five consecutive SBs, the Lombardi trophy is permanently altered to have the flying eagle atop it and Canton renames the city Juanville.

    I can live with that, as long as we still blitz a little. Speaking of which, with the wide 9 concept and LBs off the line and inside a bit more, does that lend itself to more inside blitzes and less around the end stuff?

  10. 10 brza said at 4:42 AM on July 13th, 2011:

    Sorry, Tommy I’m a long time reader and you always have some great insights but I just couldn’t let this statement go uncommented: “They (LBs) will stay put at the snap and read the play.”
    This could lead to some misconceptions about the new defense. Yes, the LBs won’t be blitzing as much or running full speed ahead at the snap but even in a read and react defense the LBs will be moving forward at the snap, just in a much more controlled manner until their read progression is done.
    No, defense calls for a LB to stay put. As soon as the ball is snapped they will react forward to the first step of their primary read (usually the linemen in front of them) then based on their primary key’s second step they will either react to that or look to their secondary read but again the LB will take another step. A LB that isn’t moving his feet is a LB that is about to get pancaked, burnt and/or put on the bench.

  11. 11 izzylangfan said at 10:54 AM on July 13th, 2011:

    I’m with McG in thanking you for doing such a good job answering questions.

    On the blitz I believe that the question of how much do blitz should be related more to the question of how do we mess up the quarterback. With today’s good quarterbacks you cannot just rush four and cover. You need to rush the QB and make him make hasty and bad decisions. I think that both McDermott as well as JJ in his last few years blitzed more than they really wanted to because they needed to get the pressure they weren’t getting from the front four. If you get that pressure you can blitz or cover and win either way. The key for the Eagles is to get pressure particularly up the middle.

    Although on second thought, maybe defensive coordinators are more like me and just want to see opposing quarterbacks pounded into oblivion.

  12. 12 CVD said at 2:12 PM on July 13th, 2011:

    So you think desean is good at going over the middle because he got laid out one of the few times he did it? If that means he is good at it then I have more that proves u are right. He went over the middle against the skins and I think it was London Fletcher who laid him out and gave him a concussion that knocked him out for two games. To me that is bad not good.

    Desean is the best at the long ball but I don’t think he is very good at going over the middle and moving the chains. What I am saying is 10 yard pass going over the middle in traffic, I am not using desean for that. I will use anyone but desean. Deep middle with safeties deep, yeah I will let him sit in there and make a grab, he is good at that.

  13. 13 CVD said at 2:25 PM on July 13th, 2011:

    Brandon Graham Had Microfracture Surgery

    now i really want Cjohnson or Fat AL

  14. 14 T_S_O_P said at 3:09 PM on July 13th, 2011:

    ” The OLBs will line up further back off the ball, but more to the inside. They won’t be setting the edge as much as they did in the past.”

    How do you thin Moise might do with this change? Wasn’t his physicality one of his strengths? Is he celebral? Does he need to be? Wouldn’t a 5 year younger version of Gaither be well suited to our new LBers?

  15. 15 McG said at 3:15 PM on July 13th, 2011:

    I don’t know that Fokuo is a Rhodes scholar, but I’m fairly certain he has been learning and adapting well since joining the birds. Hopefully he has the mental skill set to make the transition… His physicality could be dangers when blitzing with a shorter route to the QB crashing down through the interior…

  16. 16 Zack said at 3:31 PM on July 13th, 2011:


    Has there been a success story with microfracture from a NFL player? I agree with CBD Johnson should be moving way up the Eagles wish list.

  17. 17 typhilly21 said at 4:05 PM on July 13th, 2011:

    The link. As if there was any doubt we were going after a DE.

    Johnson and Edwards expect a phone call gents.

  18. 18 izzylangfan said at 4:16 PM on July 13th, 2011:

    If setting the edge was the key for LB’s we would have kept Gocong. While the two gap scheme that we have played for the last so many years was great against the run it was soft against the pass – particularly on third and fourth down. How many times were we burned by passes in the middle on key downs. If there was one thing that JJ taught us it was not the blitz, not run defense but pass defense that is the key. We just have to be OK against the run but we need to be excellent against the pass. The decline in the Eagles D from the 2003 team has been in the decline in proficiency of the pass defense including but not limited to creating disruption on passing plays.

    We get some sacks and some interceptions but on plays were we don’t get those measurable stats there is not enough confusion by the offense to generate a broken or unsuccessful play. It seems to me that Asante can jump in front of a receiver every so often and get the INT or Cole can beat his man cleanly to get the sack – but otherwise the offense is mostly unruffled. So if Cole is going to get 12 sacks and Asante 7 interceptions that is only 19 plays. What about the rest?

    In 2010 linebackers Bradley, Chaney, Fokou, Jordan and Sims had together 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions and 15 PD’s. Bradley had 7 PD’s, Sims 5 and the others 1 each. On the whole it sounds a bit light to me.

    I like Castillo. That doesn’t guarantee his success. But clearly major changes are needed on defense – more than just coaching.

  19. 19 McG said at 4:16 PM on July 13th, 2011:

    This news comes with terrible timing!

    This is a total train wreck to our dark horse suspicions that we were going to steal away Charles Johnson in the middle of the night…

    Why football gods… WHY?!

  20. 20 CVD said at 4:42 PM on July 13th, 2011:

    it seems like when rookies start a full season they wind up hurt by the end of the season.

  21. 21 mcud said at 4:45 PM on July 13th, 2011:

    Re: graham

    Ugh. Not good news. Didn’t love the pick then. Today, even worse. Seems like a good kid. Hope he fares better than Vic Abiamiri has…

  22. 22 CVD said at 5:23 PM on July 13th, 2011:

    we really need some dline help. unless wash’s system is all the help we need. BG was second among rookies for qb disruptions and he didnt play a full season. this is what pff said about him at the end of november:

    10. Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles (+10.5, 375 snaps)

    Our top-ranked rookie defensive end, Graham has split time at defensive end for the Eagles but has been extremely productive when it comes to generating pressure. Run defense needs work, but is coming along