The Eagles might make a move at Defensive Coordinator. We’re still in speculation mode right now, but we’ll find out next week if the team is going to make a move. One question raised by many is what happens to the Wide-9 and how the presence of Jim Washburn affects the situation.
Not all coaches like the Wide-9. Titans coach Mike Munchak wanted bigger DL when he took over the team and went with a different scheme. 6’5, 276 Jason Jones was moved from DT to LDE, if that gives you any kind of idea of what happened.
Prior to 2011, Eagles DTs in recent years had played a 2-gap style. That meant they were moving laterally and controlling the middle of the line. Now the players are taught to get upfield and be disruptive. 2-gap is better for run defense, but 1-gap is better for making plays and rushing the passer. This isn’t a case of right and wrong. It is all about style. What does the coach want?
Steve Spagnuolo believes in a 1-gap system, but he likes to mix in zone blitzing. The Wide-9 features the DL as rushers, not zone blitzing. The two ideas on the surface wouldn’t seem to work well together.
However, there isn’t anything written where we have to run the Wide-9 every single snap or that Spags would want to zone blitz 30 times a game. Because both systems are attacking in nature there could be a mixing of the two.
This is where personality becomes crucial. Jim Washburn isn’t a passive guy. He believes in his system. I’m sure he’s willing to make some adjustments, but how many? I don’t know him and it wouldn’t be fair to try and label him. Spagnuolo worked under Jim Johnson from 1999-2006. Since then he has been the DC or HC, which meant he could do as he pleased with his defense. Would Spags be open to mixing things up? Maybe. He does seem like a reasonable guy.
I don’t think Washburn’s presence here is going to necessarily drive away coaches. I do think people would want to know how flexible Washburn is with mixing things up. Now, if Washburn has a reputation around the league as being very stubborn, maybe he would drive people away. I tend to doubt he’s that rigid because he’s got such a good reputation, but you never know what people say behind closed doors.
Washburn showed some flexibility this year . The Eagles moved a DE more to the inside against certain run formations/packages. The world didn’t end. Lightning didn’t strike. Simple adjustment.
As for the DTs, plenty of coaches around the league use a 1-gap system and want guys attacking up the field. That’s not a big deal at all. Really, the placement of the DEs out wide is what bothers some people. And more than a few teams do move DEs out wide in passing situations so it isn’t as if what the Eagles are doing is revolutionary. This isn’t the defensive version of the Run ‘n Shoot or something crazy like that.
I talked about Gregg Williams being a potential candidate recently. Williams was the DC for the Titans when Washburn was hired to be the DL coach back in 1999. They worked together for 2 years, and went to the Super Bowl in 1999. That worked okay.
People have asked me to talk about Williams. What does he do? He’s like talking about Picasso. Which period? He did some stuff with the 46 while in Tennessee. He had the Wide-9 for a couple of years. Williams then went to Buffalo as HC. Up there he had big DTs and focused on stuffing the run. The DEs were pass rushers.
Williams was fired by the Bills and went to WAS as DC from 2004-07. He had smaller DTs, but bigger DEs. That group seemed to play a lot of Cover 2. I think that is the first team I remember lining Safeties up way downfield to force the Eagles to play small ball.
Williams was in JAX for a year before moving on to the Saints. He’s done a lot of blitzing down in New Orleans. Williams is once again mixing things up. SS Roman Harper plays a lot in the box. The Saints also lead the league in rushing with just 3 men. He’s actually talked about shifting to a 3-4 at times. I don’t know if that’s because he’s so fascinated with doing more zone blitzing or if he sees a lack of pass rushers on the Saints.
Williams has no one thing that he always does. He’s a bit of a chameleon, adjusting to the situation and his personnel. It would be very interesting to see what Williams would do with the Eagles personnel.
Some have expressed a concern about getting rid of the Wide-9 might really hurt the defensive line. Not really. One player is greatly helped by the system and that’s Jason Babin. The Wide-9 allows him to use his speed and athleticism and play in space. Trent Cole is a good rusher in any system. Cullen Jenkins is a 3-technique DT that can thrive in any 1-gap system. Mike Patterson has shown that he can be a good starter in any system.
I would like to see the Wide-9 kept in place no matter who the coordinator is. I really liked the way the DL played this year and don’t want to mess with it too much. I can live with mixing in more tight formations on run downs, but don’t want too much change. This was the best DL play we’ve had in years. Let’s build on that rather than tearing it apart.
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Interesting stuff from Jimmy at BloggingThebEast on the Senior Bowl and NFC East rosters. Eagles have a lot of guys who played in the game.
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Interesting stuff from the NFC East blogger with ESPN here as he talks about the Parcells guys in Dallas getting up there in age. The great SB teams were built by Jimmy Johnson. Much of the talent in the recent surge came from Bill Parcells. Can the Cowboys replace guys like Tony Romo, Jay Ratliff, DeMarcus Ware, and Jason Witten as they hit the wrong side of 30?
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Some reader asked me about Utah State LB Bobby Wagner. I like him as an OLB more than ILB. Interesting prospect, but I don’t have a great feel for him yet. I’ve watched parts of a few games and like what I see, but haven’t made up my mind on how much I like him.
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Someone brought up Curtis Lofton’s name as a MLB target in FA. I haven’t mentioned him because I didn’t realize he was a UFA. He absolutely could be a guy to go for. Solid young MLB. I do think the Falcons will aggressively try to re-sign him. I have no idea what kind of a cap situation they’re in, but Mike Smith is a defensive coach who likes his LBs. I doubt he wants to lose Lofton.
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Is everyone here reading Monday Afternoon Quarterback (MAQB) by Gimpy over at ScoutsNotebook? If not, let’s change that. Gimpy is an old friend from the EMB. He’s got some interesting thoughts on the NFL. And he worked long and hard to learn reading/writing just for this (he’s a Pitt grad so don’t expect too much).