More on the Defensive Scheme

Posted: April 19th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 92 Comments »

On Wednesday I wrote about the Eagles running a 3-4 based on some comments from players and even Chip Kelly about the fact that players would be using the 2-gap technique. I wanted to add a few things to that discussion.

One point has to be emphasized. This is what is being taught right now. That doesn’t mean it is the long term plan. Bill Davis has talked a few times about when he and Mike Nolan got to SF and wanted to convert that defense from 4-3 to 3-4. They didn’t fully implement the system they wanted. They based what they did on the personnel they had. That changed over time. Just because we’re in the 3-4 now doesn’t mean we won’t shift to the 4-3 Under in a year or two.

Football teams have short term plans and long term plans. Andy Reid got here in 1999 and put in his offense. Think how different that looked in 1999 and 2002. If the right coach inherits the right players, he can be more aggressive with his schedule. Wade Phillips was able to get the Texans running the 4-3 Under right away. That defense returned a lot of players and had the right pieces. Clearly the Eagles had to add a slew of new guys. The entire secondary is new. The NT is new. One LB is new. And returning guys like Fletcher Cox, Ced Thornton, and Mychal Kendricks are just in their second season. You can’t be too aggressive with teaching them. Gotta take baby steps.

We don’t know what Chip Kelly or Bill Davis long term vision for the defense is. Kelly and Davis keep talking about a hybrid defense. We’ll see how that goes. Some of you have asked about Bill Belichick’s 4-3/3-4 combo. No way. Copying Belichick is fool’s gold. The man is a freak. He can teach anything. He knows how to make adjustments when part of what he does isn’t working. Please forget this idea immediately. Or sooner.

As to what Kelly means by his talk of 3 and 4-man fronts…I don’t know how to take him. He talks about playing 4-man fronts against passing teams. Is he simply referring to a 4-2-5 Nickel defense? That is common. All teams run 4-man fronts in some Nickel and Dime situations. That’s not my definition of hybrid at all.

Or maybe Kelly does mean that we’ll go 4-3 against some teams. All we can do is wait to find out.

* * * * *

AC Viking had some questions on these type issues that I never addressed.

Will Curry still be effective when bulking up? Jerry Azzinaro coached him for one year at Marshall. Rick Minter was there for 2 years. If those guys approved the move to 5-tech DE (and bulking up), clearly they feel he can do it. If the Eagles had concerns with Curry, they could trade him. This draft isn’t loaded with elite pass rushers. Curry would have some value.

I’ve never thought of Curry as an explosive rusher. He is quick and can appear explosive when he times his get-off right, but he’s not a freaky good athlete or anything special. Let’s look at some notes from last April. Curry  really stood out to me at the Senior Bowl.  Here are some notes from that:

“Game – V Curry – RDE. Got under Glenn and moved him back a step on run play. Unblocked on WR screen. Flew off the edge and deflected the pass. Gift sack when Ta’Amu flushed QB to him. Good pressure on Weeden’s INT. Came off quickly and got under the LT. Moved him back, then went inside and hit the QB as he threw. McCants did a solid job of blocking him 1-on-1 a few times. Used an inside move to get to RB in the backfield. Good up and under move. Gift sack in the 3rd Qtr. Was blocked by RT. RG shoved him from the side, which knocked him off the block and QB just happened to drift to that area. Easy sack. Got into Sanders on run play and moved him backward, showing good strength. Uses hands/arms well. Physical player. Times his get-off really well. Hustled and tried to get in on tackle of Joe Adams, but got juked.”

“Day 3 – Vinny Curry — Very good day.  Had success as an edge rusher.  Explosive when he times his get-off just right.  Moved inside to DT for some reps and absolutely killed the G’s he went up against.  They had no answer for his quickness.  Uses his hands well to shed blocks in some drills.  Disruptive player who has looked good so far.”

Curry isn’t a Senior Bowl wonder.  He was the C-USA Defensive Player of the Year.  Curry racked up 11 sacks, 7 FFs, and 3 blocked kicks.  He had more than 40 solo tackles each of the last 2 years, which shows good hustle.  Curry finished his career with 26.5 sacks, 49 TFLs (amazing) and 10 FFs.

Curry played both RDE and LDE.  Quick off the ball.  Not explosive, but good.  Uses his hands very well.  Keeps blockers from getting into his body.  Curry has a great motor.  Will work relentlessly to get to the ball.  Makes hustle plays when chasing the QB or on run plays.  Has a good swim move.  Will go inside at times to blockers can’t just sell out to stop his wide rushes.  Other times Curry will mix in a spin move or even a bull rush.  Not just a guy that flies off the edge over and over.

Plays smart.  Understands how to set up pass rush moves.  Shows good awareness when reading plays and/or chasing the ball.

Biggest weakness is anchoring vs the run.  Lacks ideal lower body strength.  Can get moved off the ball by some OTs and will really struggle when he’s taking on double teams.  Does have good upper body strength.  You see that in his ability to shed blocks and his 28 bench reps.

The player I’ve compared Curry to is Justin Smith. Curry came into the league, 6-3, 266. Smith came in at 6-4, 267. Both players had great motors. Both had strong upper bodies. Smith ran faster in his workout. He was just as productive in college, but played better competition and that’s one of the reasons he went Top 5 and Curry fell to the bottom of the 2nd.

Clearly I’m not saying Curry will be anywhere near as good as Smith. The point is that SF signed him away from Cincinnati and converted Smith to a 3-4 DE after he’d played in the 4-3 all of his career. Smith has the upper body strength, frame, physicality, and motor to be successful in the new role.  Curry has those same attributes. That doesn’t mean that he will be successful in the new system, only that there is hope for him. The move is based in logic, not desperation.

Since Curry isn’t a pure speed guy, bulking up should not be a major issue. Take speed away from Dwight Freeney and he’s a completely different player. Curry’s motor is still his best attribute. That won’t change whether he is 266 or 286.

Here is a Curry video vs WVA from 2010. Marshall used a 3-man DL several times. They weren’t always 2-gapping, but you can see Curry doing some of what he might in his new role.

Will losing weight hurt Trent Cole? This is tougher to answer. Cole has never been a pure speed rusher. He’s used good speed combined with good strength to beat OTs. He is losing bulk. If Trent can maintain his strength, he should be okay. I trust Kelly and his new staff when it comes to workouts, conditioning, and nutrition. Still, we need to see Trent in action.

The sleeker look should help him when he’s playing in space. The one big advantage Trent will have when he covers these days is that he’ll be practicing it. In the past, Cole dropped back on zone blitzes here and there. He wasn’t coached up on coverage because he was a DE. Trent is now a LB/DE. He’ll get a lot more coverage reps in practice. We’ll see how this goes.

Is Dion Jordan special? Can he be an impact player? Jordan might not make it to pick #4. If he does, I’d be glad to have him. I think Jordan absolutely has big time potential. When is the last time the Eagles had a 6-6, 250 LB that could cover WRs and fly by OTs? Jordan isn’t a polished player. He needs to get stronger. He needs to fill out his frame. He needs to work on his pass rush skills. Can’t speed rush on every play in the NFL. If he puts everything together, Jordan could be an impact LB.

The Steelers have had a great 3-4 for 20 years. They have great OLBs, a stud NT, and an impact S almost every year. Can the Eagles find those guys in the draft?  Not all this year. There are terrific prospects at each position, but it isn’t likely that the Eagles will land all the guys at once. The Steelers needed time to add pieces to their D.

Jordan would be an impact OLB. We have to see what Barwin, Graham, and Cole do.

Sopoaga is the NT. There are several guys we could draft, from the 2nd round to the 7th. There is no NT I’m in love with. Brandon Williams is the guy who fascinates me.

There are some very good Safeties available. Is there anyone like Troy Polamalu? That’s a brutally hard question. I do think Jonathan Cyprien has the best combination of cover skills, physicality, size, strength, and range. He can make plays at the LOS or 20 yards downfield. I just don’t know if Cyprien lasts to pick #35. I sure hope he does.

The key to remember in all of this is that we don’t know which players the Eagles will emphasize. The 5-tech DE could be Ziggy Ansaha (6-5, 271), Star Lotulelei (6-3, 311), William Gholston (6-6, 281), John Jenkins (6-4, 332), or Joe Kruger (6-6, 269).  Those guys have different builds and skill sets. Who do the Eagles go for? What do they want?

The same is true at OLB, ILB, and NT. We know Chip prefers big guys, but we don’t know the skill set he’s looking for. He’s talked about the need for guys to be able to 2-gap, but that’s more about the current players. Does it apply long term as well? We’ll find out in a week.

_


  • Neil

    So in the 4-3 under, does the 5 line up head up on the tackle or on his outside shoulder?

    • TommyLawlor

      Outside shoulder, but if playing 2-gap, he’s responsible for inside and out.

      • Geagle

        say we do start in 3-4 and eventually go with the Under D…How does that transition work. Cox doesnt matter, he can do anything, but wouldnt we then need a gap shooting NT? If thats the case, would our 3-4 NT have to move to 5tec?
        They better only add Dlineman who can 1 and 2gap…Like you said, I think it takes Floyd off the board(although I would like him shooting the gap, as a NT in a 4-3U, dont see how he would fit in a 3-4though

  • Iskar36

    After the OTs, Dion Jordan is probably the guy I am highest on, but his production in college does scare me a ton. Compare his numbers to Vinny Curry or some of the other OLB/DEs for example:

    ………………………………….SOLO……AST……TFL…SCK….INT……PD…..FR…..FF
    Vinny Curry. (3Y starter)…..111…….128…….49……26.5…….0……..4…….0…….10
    Dion Jordan (2Y starter)……73………48……..29…..14.5……..0……..2…….0……..4
    Ziggy Ansah (1Y starter)……39……..33……..13……4.5……..0……..10……0……..1
    Jarvis Jones (2Y starter)……91……..64……..44……28………1………6……..0…….9
    Bark Mingo (1Y starter)……..60……..59……..29……15………0……..11…….0…….4
    Bjoern Werner (2Y starter)…63……..36……..35……23.5……1……..18…….2…….3

    Numbers are certainly not defining in college and you are trying to project these players as NFL players rather than simply finding the guy with the best numbers. Still, from that list, Jordan’s numbers are very disappointing. The only guy he has truly better numbers than are Ansah, and with him, the point is that you would be drafting him for his upside since he is so raw.

    Personally, even with Jordan on the board, I would much rather trade back and add picks later in the draft.

    • TommyLawlor

      Jordan dropped into coverage maybe more than all the guys added together. That had a huge effect on his numbers. Still, I agree that his numbers are far from ideal.

      • Iskar36

        I’m not denying there are some reasons for the differences in numbers. And to be clear, I would take Jordan over the other guys at 4. My point is more that even though he might be the best of the group, there are some very legitimate question marks about him. Hence why I’d rather trade back than use the 4th pick on him.

        And specifically to your comment about dropping into coverage, you have discussed this briefly, but still, you would think that while his pass rushing numbers would have been negatively affected, his coverage numbers would have benefited. He actually has the weakest coverage statistics of the group, by a noticeable margin (again, I understand stats, particularly coverage stats, only provide so much because they don’t tell you how much he forced QBs to go a different direction or even how many good/bad coverage plays he was involved in).

        • TommyLawlor

          This is why Chip Kelly pointed out there are no “can’t miss” guys this year. Every prospect has some flaw(s).

          • DanJ3645

            aside from the Jags @ #2 who is going to be looking at Jordan?

            Maybe the Browns or the Jets?

            Best option might be to trade down with the Cards to let them get the best remaining OT & take Jordan @ #7

          • Geagle

            Yeah, I wouldnt assume that Jordan would get passed the browns. If he is on the board, you would have to think that Ray Horton goes crazy pounding the table for Jordan..
            I think If you really want Jordan, the best case scenario would be, both Fisher and Joekel off the board already, Lane and Jordan sitting at the top of your board at #4, and we strong arm the Lions into giving up a pick or two to move up 1 spot, securing Lane, while we take Jordan and like an extra 4th round pick at #5

          • deg0ey

            Agreed. But that’s only a better scenario than swapping picks with the Lions while Fisher/Joeckel is still on the board because otherwise we’d never hear the end of it from those that have convinced themselves we need to use #4 on an OT at all costs.

          • Geagle

            Lol, especially an OT who’s strength isn’t pass blocking….When you hear GM’s talk about the importance of LT, I don’t think I have ever heard them mention, opening up Holes for a RB lol, You usually hear, It’s so important because it protects the QB’s blind side…so I don’t see how a run blocking Fisher at #4 is the NO BRAINER that a lot of people would have us believe…

            If I had to draft any of these 3OTs, I would want Lane Johnson. the kid basically gets better every single day…Im not down with this scared safe approach….do your due diligence, and then take a calculated swing for the fences, and find a player with the best chance of becoming an All pro….Joekel will probably be a solid probowler, but ALL pro? I don’t know about that

          • austinfan

            This is where scheme comes into play, if Chip runs his offense off his zone block running plays, with deep throws coming off play action, then the OTs don’t have to hold blocks as long, and they can wear down faster DEs by pounding them much of the game (fight off run blocks against a high tempo offense and you’re gonna be less explosive off the snap the second half).

            If your passing game is primarily quick short throws and roll outs off the read option, again, do you need premier pass blockers or more physical guys up front?

            In that case, do you want to use a 1st rd pick on OL at all? You can get solid OL in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, and development projects every year on the third day. Do you need elite OL?

          • Geagle

            First of all, I think drafting our OT’s of 2016 can atleast wait a year. If there was anything to worry about Peters(more than anyother NFL player) would he be running Hurdles of all things in April? Peters is the one player with the NFL Clout to milk his injury during a coach and scheme change to miss these grueling workouts so early and not worry about his starting spot regardless of who is drafted(not uncommon for veterans to milk contracts, or injuries to miss the summer)..yet the big man, is front and center, not missing any workouts and impressing anyone that has seen him…As for the Toddfather, I like him just fine at RT if he has a good RG next to him…so if anything, what the Oline really needs is a gaurd to push Watkins, and a backup center….I would much rather wait til round 2 and grab Pugh or Long to play RG/RT, than take a lineman in round 1…
            and if we are going OT, in round 1 than Im not interested in these Safe, probowl Ceilings OT’s Joekel and Fisher..We have the 4th pick in the draft, I dont fear past draft mistakes, Swing for the fences and get a prospect with ALL PRO potential, and the only 1 I see is Lane Johnson. Just my humble oppinion….I think too many people are scared of our past draft mistakes and just want to take the safest good player….Take a shot, due your due dilligence and get the player you trust with the highest ceiling available
            I

          • Arby1

            Could this then be an argument to then pick the “safer” position, say OT, all other things being equal?

        • Geagle

          in fairness to Dion’s Lack of stats, the game film doesn’t lie…nOt too many QBs were Eager to throw the way of a 6’6 freak, with that kind of wingspan who is as fast as recievers…and Teams definitely stopped running to his side….

        • holeplug

          That is something you’d have to watch on tape. Is Jordan so good in coverage that he just isn’t getting thrown at or is he lost and isn’t even close enough to his man to make a play on the ball.

        • Arby1

          Would you take Jordan over any of the OT’s at 4? I’m confused because of your earlier statement.

          • Iskar36

            At #4, I feel that the OTs (Joeckel, Fisher, Johnson) are safer picks than Jordan, but I like Jordan more than any of the other DE/OLBs. Having said that, I would rather add picks and maybe draft one of the lesser OLBs than take Jordan at 4 and not add picks.

          • Arby1

            I agree. I’m much more comfortable picking one of the OT’s.

      • austinfan

        That’s been grossly exaggerated, he dropped what, 20% of pass snaps, that should reduce his numbers by 20% (and less because he was harder to track so should have had more open lanes to the QB). Nor was he productive in coverage (since he dropped into zone a lot, suggests he didn’t have a good feel for the QB or good reaction time in space). Same with Mingo, great players make plays in any role, they anticipate and react, great athletes look good but are often a step late. Jordan simply never produced like a great player. Name a guy with mediocre college production who started for two years and who went on to be a highly productive pro player.

        For Jordan and Mingo, lack of production is a huge red flag. I don’t expect either player to be elite NFL players. Ansah on the other hand, was more productive with far less experience, he just has “it.” Now production doesn’t always translate to the NFL, production without talent is the sign of a “college” player, someone with a motor and good instincts who lacks NFL athleticism.

        Even with DL, whose production depends on their role (2 gap guys have far smaller numbers), the one thing I always look at is solo tackles, why? Because even a two gap NT can make a lot of tackles if he has a high motor and can shed blocks (remember, he’s shedding mediocre college OL) – but if he won’t fight to make plays at the college level, what chance does he have to do so in the NFL?

        • GvilleEagleFan

          I’m not trying to offer an apology on Jordan’s behalf, but don’t we need to examine the level of competition each player is going against? Ansah is playing at BYU, against the likes of San Jose State. BYU played some quality programs, but Jordan played Stanford, USC, etc every year. How many OTs come into the NFL from the programs in the minor conferences compared to the PAC – 12? I don’t know the answer, but it seems like if we’re going to discuss production we should consider who the prospects are producing against.

          • austinfan

            Problem is Jordan was going against RTs as a SAM.
            He should be able to beat them like a drum.

          • Geagle

            off the top of my head, the year going into the draft, neither Aldon Smith, Demarcus Ware, or Jason Taylor had more than 5-7 sacks. None played with an injury that required surgery, fighting off 300lb men with 1 arm for half a season…
            unlike Dion, all those men had been playing DE/LB since High school (Jason Taylor saw time at Wil his sophmore year at Akron)..and none were half as versatile…..So clearly, stats arent the end all be all. Stats are always basically taken out of context. Every situation and every player is unique….For example, are we really going to compare Jordan’s sacks to Jarvis Jones 14.5 sacks? How many Sacks did Jarvis actually manufacture? 6, maybe 7….Start removing “coverage sacks” created by the NFL secondary at Georgia, and start removing the sacks where Georgia’s NFL Front 7 just chased QB’s into Jarvis waiting arms….and how many of the sacks, were actually truley valuable in projecting him going forward?
            Would I feel more comfortable drafting Dion if he had 14 sacks? DUH!!!…but at the End of the day, I want us to swing for the fences, take the kid with the most potential, whos charecter and work ethic you believe in the most….and this has nothing to do with Dion, because even if he is off the board, I would want us to use the same strategy, and go with Lane Johnson over Fisher

          • austinfan

            Aldon Smith

            2010: 9-9 30-14 4.5 4.5 0 2 1ff
            2009: 13-13 42-20 11.5 7.5 0 5 1ff
            Right fibula fractured against San Diego State in October 2010; fracture was high enough above ankle and below the knee so it could heal on its own without surgery. Returned just three weeks later.

            DeMarcus Ware

            2002: 12-11 47-25 9.0 11.0 0 0 13 PS 1ff
            2003: 12-12 43-19 6.0 10.0 0 0 32 PS 5ff
            2004: 12-12 37-16 10.5 8.5 0 1 29 PS 4ff

            Jason Taylor

            As a junior he played weakside linebacker and moved to left defensive end as a senior. Can’t find his year to yea stats, but note that he was a 3rd rd pick.

          • Geagle

            LIke I said, I was going off the top of my dome…but as for Jason Taylor, Im pretty certain He played DE for 2 years, and was a WIL as a sophmore..Finished his career at Akron with 21 sacks(Im sure of that)..Basically the same size going into the draft as Dion…Jordan is much faster tho……..Im not sure how you lured me into a stat debate, when my point was that they really arent indicative of what you might be getting at the NFL level. I dont see many limits to his game

          • Iskar36

            What about Jarvis Jones and Barkevious Mingo though? Both played in the SEC.

        • Neil

          I can’t even begin to describe how pointless stats are. If you see a guy getting double and triple teamed every single play, are you going to knock him for not making more solo tackles? There’s nothing you can glean from stats that you won’t get a much more accurate picture of from tape.

          Jordan dropped at least 30% of the time by my unscientific feeling. Some games it felt like more. Some games it truly felt ridiculous and like a waste of his talent as a pass rusher.

          Regardless, you’re getting too caught up in numbers. Jordan got all but one or two of his sacks in the first half of the season. Then he was a different player after hurting his shoulder. He stopped physically engaging offensive linemen. Before his injury, he was a true impact player. After his injury, sometimes he was a bit of a headscratcher. But if Chip Kelly knows the extent of the injury and approves of how Jordan’s play was affected by it, sack numbers don’t matter because there’s an explanation besides him being an ineffective player.

          • austinfan

            Jordans’s senior season

            1st 3 games, 3 patsies, Ark St, Fresno St, Tenn Tech
            next four games, Az, Az State, Wash, Wash St, PAC weak sisters

            1st 7 games: 20-9, 4 sacks, 3 stuffs

            last five games, hurt shoulder, but also meat of schedule
            Co., USC, (missed Cal), Stanford, Ore St, K-State
            6-9, 0 sacks, 3 stuffs

            Now check 2011:

            1st 9 games: 21-13, 4 sacks, 5.5 stuffs

            last 5 games, Stanford, USC, Ore St, UCLA, Wisconsin
            4-4, 3.5 sacks, 0 stuffs

            The shoulder effected his game, but so did playing tougher teams in closer games – BOTH YEARS.

            But notice, 16 games against weak competition, and healthy
            41-22, 8 sacks, 8.5 stuffs
            if he did that in the MAC, would he be considered elite?

  • SleepingDuck

    Connor Barwin said on NFL AM that they’re playing a 3-4, but he later called it more a hybrid type defense for what that’s worth.

  • http://twitter.com/ViniEagles Vinícius Gonçalves

    The longest week of the year..

    • TommyLawlor

      Not for me. Every day flies by. I’m behind schedule with my draft writing so I’d push it back a week if I could.

      • Geagle

        for me, blogging helped this week Fly by….and I think once Monday gets here, it will really fly by(since we will all have a million pre draft shows to watch and listen to)

  • http://www.facebook.com/christian.therealw Christian Therealw

    Reading your article, it sounds it´s easier to switch from 4-3 to 3-4 then to a 4-3under. Or am I wrong?

    • deg0ey

      That’s what it sounds like, but it also doesn’t really make much sense. Apart from the fact that the LBs sucked, there’s no reason last year’s starting D couldn’t play a 4-3 under at the weight they already were and using the techniques they already knew; it wouldn’t be perfect, but it’s a very similar defense.

      The way I’ve taken Chip’s focus on the 3-4 here is not that he’s planning to use a 3-4 as his base defense, but that he knows everybody on the roster can already do the required 4-3 techniques so there’s no point wasting the three days he’s got going over those. What he wants to know is which guys on the roster are going to be able to handle any 3-4 looks he wants to mix into his hybrid D and which aren’t; if there are any that look completely lost then maybe he has to draft a replacement.

      • Geagle

        I think Cox and Kendrick’s are our most promising players, and Demeco can do whatever we need….4-3under just fits Kendrick’s and Cox so beautifully, and if we are able to land Dion, the kid has a chance to become the best SAM that scheme has ever seen..I’m really hoping all this 3-4 stuff at mini camp, is just trying to find out what we can and can’t do…because if we Know TODAY, that we are playing a 3-4 next year, I don’t know how comfortable I feel

    • TommyLawlor

      The 4-3 Under is a misleading name. It isn’t really a 4-3. You have the normal DT setup, but then have a 5-tech DE and a pair of OLBs. It is a hybrid defense. It is a mixture of the 3-4 and 4-3.

      Straight up teaching the 3-4 should be easier. I don’t know that for a fact. All of this is new to me. I’m a 4-3 guy. This 3-4 and hybrid crap is something I’ve got to do a lot of reading and learning about.

      • deg0ey

        Interesting that you compare Curry to Justin Smith, though, since there appears to be talk in SF about how they run a 4-3 under with Fangio. Not sure if it’s just a buzzword, but maybe another clue Kelly’s not running a pure 3-4?

        http://49ers.pressdemocrat.com/2013/03/inside-the-49ers/the-49ers-defensive-scheme/

        http://49ers.pressdemocrat.com/2013/04/inside-the-49ers/3-4-or-4-3-under/

        • austinfan

          This seems to be what Davis was doing in both SF and Arizona. And they signed Sopoagag from SF, coincidence?

          If so, some draft clues:

          1) Barwin will be the SAM, Cole and Graham the predator, so more likely to take a backup SAM late.

          2) No big two gap NTs, rather, 310 lb guys who are primarily one gap, Star, S Williams, Hankins, J Williams, not Jenkins or B Williams.

          3) Athleticism is as important as size at the “5”. So more like 290 lbs athletes than 310 lb two gappers. Boyd has both.

          What LB can cover a TE?
          if the SS is in the box, is Chung big enough?
          If the FS is cover 1, do they prioritize speed?

          • deg0ey

            I’ve found myself wondering whether Kendricks can play a hybrid role. We know Kelly likes big players and Mychal is small for a LB, but he’s not small for a SS. He’s as athletic as any safety in this draft class and if the SS is primarily gonna play in the box then why not have it be Kendricks and put another LB on the field in his place?

          • GvilleEagleFan

            See, I don’t think Barwin is the best fit as a SAM. His best year, sack-wise anyway, came when Mario Williams was hurt and he played the Predator role. What I think we’re much more likely to see is Barwin playing Predator in the base with (hopefully) Jordan as the SAM, with Graham as the primary #3 rotating in at Predator and in those situations potentially rotating Barwin to SAM if Jordan needs a rest or just replacing Barwin.

            Then in the sub packages, we’d see a 4-2-5 look with Cole and Graham playing regular 4-3 DE, Curry and Cox on the inside as pass rushing DTs. Obviously DeMeco and Kendricks start the season as the nickel LBs, but I think the advantage to picking Jordan is that he has the cover skills to potentially fill in for Ryans in the short term and take over from him as Ryans ages and becomes a purely 2-down run stuffer. The even man front works best with our pass-rushing personnel, considering Barwin already has experience as a RDE in Houston’s sub package.

            Didn’t mean to turn this into “Why We Should Draft Dion Jordan,” but this logic is exactly why he sprang to mind when Howie talked about looking for a “cornerstone player.”

  • Geagle

    The most interesting part of this years draft to me are the NT’s…very deep group. Some say, there are more NT’s, than teams that need or even use a NT…I dont think its crazy to see NT’s we once thought of as 1st or 2nd round players like Jon Jenkins and Brandon Williams(who I would love to have), fall to round 4..
    I like Williams alot…Im thinking NT in a 3-4, and possibly slide over to 5tec if we go with The Under Hybrid

  • Geagle

    I really dont understand the Graham/Cole situation, and I have no clue how its going to work going forward. Cole signed, what now looks to be a bad contract, last year. Graham is on the last year of his rookie deal that pays him around $5mil per year..Today, Im not sure what Graham’s value would be in terms of a new contract, but whatever it is, extending Graham is not going to be cheap. Regardless of what D we play going forward, one of the OLB spots belongs to Barwin. Cole and Graham have been losing weight to play OLB, so its not like we can just ask one, to move to 5tec on the fly….Is it even a possibility for us to give Graham a new Mega deal, while paying Cole good money the next 3 years, just so they can split time at one spot(best case scenario they are both on the field in nickle)
    What are the Odds that Graham gets dealt on draft day? What kind of value would a graham trade bring?
    Please dont interpret this post as me wanting to get rid of Graham. I have been one of his biggest supporters since he has been here…Its just the business side that really worries me. I just dont understand how we could possibly see both Cole and Graham as Eagles, the next 4 years….any thoughts to calm my worries? lol

    • deg0ey

      Per Eaglescap, Graham signed a 6-year rookie contract and is signed until 2015 so that’s not a problem. Especially because there’s no way Cole is still on the team (without a restructure) when his cap number goes up to $11.5m in 2015, so that’s not a scenario we need to worry about just yet.

      EDIT: If anything, I think a Cole trade would be a less surprising outcome than a Graham trade. He’s played 7 years as a 4-3 DE and there are no guarantees he can make the switch to LB. There aren’t many good pass rushers in the draft this year, so maybe a team that misses out on the ones in the early rounds gives Howie a call on day two or three with an offer for Trent.

      • Geagle

        Wait what? Doesn’t gRaham hit the free agent market at the end of this season?…wait no, that can’t be right, because him and Maclin were b

        • deg0ey

          Also need to remember that before the new CBA, teams were allowed to offer rookies whatever contract they wanted. Maclin was drafted in 2009 and signed a 5 year $12.7m contract, which means he’s a FA at the end of this season. Graham was drafted in 2010 and signed a 6 year $18m contract, so we’ve got 3 more seasons before he’s a FA.

          • Geagle

            WE have Graham for 3 more seasons? LHow the hell did I get convinced he was about to hit Free agency? Thanks for clearing that up for me…certainly alleviated a big concern

  • http://letsrunhomey.blogspot.com Jay Austin

    That Grantland article was frakking fantastic. Hadn’t seen it before, thanks.

    • TommyLawlor

      Chris Brown (SmartFootball.com) is a great writer and that’s one of his best pieces ever.

  • Geagle

    Its funny, that with Cole, Graham, and Curry….I worry about Curry much less than The probowler and 1st round pick

    • Ark87

      I think that is natural. Curry gets to keep hand hand in the dirt. Doing what he is being asked to do has always been a facet of what he did before. Now he’s being asked to put on some weight and specialize in it.

      Trent Cole in space however….
      And I’d feel better about Graham in space if he never had to do that micro-fracture surgery
      (I have more hope for Graham than Cole though)

      • Geagle

        Also having two coaches who coached him at college

        • Ark87

          true. That is a certain vote of confidence

          • Geagle

            You know they had Imput before we ever asked him to add 20lbs..if those two didn’t think he could do it, he would probably be losing weight like Cole and Graham instead of bulking up

  • Ark87

    Tommy, one thing is bothering me. In terms of transitioning from a 4-3 to a 3-4, I thought the 4-3 under was a stepping stone in between, where one of the OLB is a “predator” that sometimes puts his hand in the dirt (basically my perception was that one of our 4-3 DE’s could very naturally play this spot) and with a 1-gap system, we wouldn’t have to worry about finding monster NTs and DE’s. In general I though the 4-3 under (1-gap) was just a more natural fit for a Line the was collected under the premise of penetration and getting up field.

    • TommyLawlor

      Going 3-4 might be easier since you have defined roles. LDE is the LDE.

      What do you do if you’re in the 4-3 Under and the offense shifts at the last minute. Guys have to be ready to do different things and make adjustments. In a 2-gap 3-4, you have very defined roles no matter who is in front of you or what shifts take place.

      • Ark87

        ah, got it, thanks.

      • GvilleEagleFan

        So it’s more of a question of how much can be installed in year one with younger players than a question of roster/skills fit? Meaning that next year, after they’ve presumably installed the 3-4 two-gap techniques, you’d switch to the 4-3 Under to take advantage of our DL’s penetrating personnel?

  • austinfan

    Some points:

    1) base run defense is on the field less than 50% of the snaps, go look at the snap counts for two gap DL around the league, “starters” are often on the field for 400-450 snaps. So you don’t use high draft picks for nickel CBs, why would you use high draft picks for two gap linemen? Only the guys with the skills to stay on the field in a 4-2-5 or a 2-4-5 are worthy of a pick in the top 100. So you want a Star or a Jesse Williams, but take a Jenkins later. Or load up with late rounders and UDFAs for some of these spots. You’re looking for big strong athletes who lack great pass rush skills but can be taught to control two gaps (Dial but not Geathers or Barnes, you need athletes with stamina, not big guys who can’t move).

    2) Lot’s of mix and match depending on the opponent, your “3” is your best athlete, your “5” and “1” can be two gappers on run downs, you might pair a two gapper at NT and Cox at the “3” in a 4-2-5, you might go two two gappers in a 2-4-5 to control the interior of the OL, etc. So if you can’t land a bunch of Reggie Whites, you want a mix of skills to rotate in and out. Remember, Chip is going to go up tempo on the offense, that means the defense may be playing 75 snaps a game instead of the normal 65 – if you limit starters to 40-45 snaps, your backups had better be able to give you a good 30-35 snaps a game. One reason the final roster may be slanted toward defense. Someone like Curry may easily get 35 snaps a game as a backup in different roles (“5″ as a pass rusher, LDE in a 4-2-5, etc.), as much as starting DL on some teams.

    Must write column (or two):

    Maybe the most important issue involving Chip’s offense (far more important than whether he has a mobile QB) is going to be the impact of Stoutland, and how his technique meshes (or doesn’t mesh) with Chip’s schemes in Oregon. Bama had a power blocking zone blocking scheme, you don’t think of Warmack or Fluker as zone blocking OL in the NFL because they can’t block on the second level. Chip ran more of a conventional zone blocking scheme with undersized linemen blocking in space. The OL is the key to Chip’s scheme, he has made it work with second rate skill personnel (Maehl, Paulson, etc.), by coaching up 3rd tier OL (Oregon has only had a couple NFL caliber OL in six years, Unger, Long for one year, everyone else at best was a camp body). So is it going to be a Bama/Oregon hybrid? What kind of OL would fit this scheme? (Peters fits anything, does Kelce fit? Is it a better fit for Watkins, Menkin, Herremans, Kelly – big, fairly athletic guys who aren’t as nifty as the prototypical zone blocking OL, i.e. Mathis). How will the OL scheme impact Chip’s play designs? Can he run his screens and stretch and option plays to the sideline with bigger OL (relative to the opposing defense and its speed)?

    • EaglesHero87

      Nice insight regarding the offensive line. I, too, am curious to see how that’ll work out.

    • deg0ey

      Your second point is quite interesting and something that might also be worth considering is how many snaps these guys played in college.

      I’ve only got numbers for the top four DTs but it’s something that might be worth considering. These are the snap counts for 2012:

      Hankins = 85.7%, 728 total, 61 per game
      Star = 91.2%, 744 total, 62 per game
      Floyd = 66.4%, 542 total, 42 per game
      Richardson = 72.3%, 616 total, 56 per game.

      Keeping in mind that these are all going against college linemen, you’ve gotta wonder how well a guy like Floyd would step up to playing 45 snaps per game against NFL competition. Likewise, if you put Hankins or Star in a rotation where they only had to play 30-35 snaps, you might expect their production to increase relative to the college level.

      Would be nice if this info was available about everybody, but unfortunately it isn’t.

      • Geagle

        How much better was Nick Fairley than Hankins?

        • deg0ey

          I haven’t seen enough of Fairly to comment, but if Hankins somehow lasts to 35 he’ll definitely be BPA.

          • Geagle

            I despised Cam Newton, and basically boycotted Auburn lol. I only saw him in the championship game vs. Oregon, and he was a monster in that game. Im assuming Nick was definitely a better prospect, but boy do I like Hankins……but if we want our 5tecs to be like Curry, than Tank Carradine is my dude. Cant wait to hear how he does at his private workout tomorrow…I have no clue what his 40time will be, like I cant even guess coming off that injury

          • deg0ey

            Well Curry’s weakness is going to be against the run, right? Hankins at 5-tech on running downs and at nose on passing downs when Curry comes out seems to make the most sense.

          • Geagle

            no complaints from me..I would be stoked!.. Wish I could see the snap total for Jesse Williams? I would take either at 35, Hankins if we had our choice

    • Anders

      The Bama offense and the Oregon offense ran the same basic IZR play as their primary run play. Also Oregon ran a ton of power stuff as well.

    • Geagle

      No one ever mentions Dial…I would absolutely LOVE him in the 7th.. I also think there is a chance that Jenkins or Brandon Williams who is my preference for Big Body might last til the 4th
      I was so happy when we signed Stoutland, but I always wondered whats going on with the scheme..I dont see how Power blocking Bama scheme meshes with Oregon…I think Stout is just teaching something similar to Oregon’s scheme

  • ACViking

    Re: Trading Back – Way Back

    T-Law:

    The Falcons are rumored to be interested in moving to the top of the draft for DJ or DeeM (or maybe someone else).

    Atlanta would have to pay a steep, steep price in terms of draft picks (whether using the outdated chart or gut instinct).

    Question: Is it worth giving up the chance to select a more talented player (and presumably a player who’ll be impactful for several years) in exchange for lots of draft picks that will — if fortunate — result in 2-3 solid players.

    Now, this is not the 2011 draft, with a WR like J-Jones . . . who’s pushing the Top 5 already.

    But still, the margin — so it’s said — between, say, an Eric Fisher and DJ Fluker is big. Or Shelly Richardson and Jonhny Hankins.

    In the past, I recall Roseman chirping about accumulating picks in the middle rounds where the Eagles could take more shots and hopefully get more hits. (I think that was back after the 2010 draft — when the Birds made lots of moves and evended up with four 4th Rders, two 5th’s and three 7ths. Those picks yielded CB Lindley, LB Clayton, TE Harbor, QB Kafka, DE Sapp, WR Cooper, and LB Chaney, S Coleman, DT Owens.)

    The Falcons rumor reminds me of the adage you hear generally about trades involving impact: The team acquiring the better player always ends up getting the better end of the deal, no matter they give up (or words to that effect).

    Thoughts? [???? Not .....]

    • holeplug

      Falcons are picking 30 so they would have to give up a TON to get up to 4. Easily their 2014 #1 and a bunch of other stuff. 30 is probably to far to drop though. As long as Ryan stays healthy they are winning 10+ games a year so the chances of that pick being top 10 next year aren’t very high.

    • Iskar36

      In almost any other draft, I would have absolutely zero interest in trading back from 4 to 30. Having said that, if the Falcons were serious about a trade, in this draft where the top of the draft is particularly weak (which in my mind makes it unlikely that the Falcons are serious), I would be very curious to know what the Falcons would be willing to do to move up. From a draft trade chart standpoint, sending the Eagles their entire draft this year would not even come close to being fair value. I think at a minimum, the discussion would have to include their first this year, their first next year, plus their second this year, and even that would be generous value for them. I would still lean towards no, but if they are willing to build on that offer, I could begin to become more interested.

  • mark_in_jax

    Tommy: Agree with you that “If the Eagles had concerns with Curry, they could trade him. This draft isn’t loaded with elite pass rushers. Curry would have some value.” Actually think you are being kind to the “pass rushers” in this draft. Curry may not be “special” but the list of pass rushers better than him in this draft is extremely short. Don’t understand why so many people think we should trade him for a 4th to a 4-3 team when his value is higher than that.

  • Adam

    Hey Tommy, do you expect a regular rotation at OLB? If we get Dion, the position becomes very crowded. Who are your starters, and what kind of rotation do you expect to see?

    • GvilleEagleFan

      I think the advantage to drafting Dion, and I’m sure Tommy will correct me if I’m wrong, is that with his cover skills he doesn’t really “crowd” the position. His versatility combined with Barwin’s ability to play both Predator and SAM means that you can basically pull the most tired guy off the field of Jordan/Barwin/Graham/Cole/Kendricks/Ryans (Ryans only in pure passing situations) and the scheme can still function well. Whether or not they’ll be able to pull that level of complexity off in Year One is an entirely different question.

      Plus we have to remember that there’s hopefully going to be a greater number of snaps to go around each week, meaning that the “backups” will play significant time every game.

  • GvilleEagleFan

    Have you seen anything on the investigation of Haslam? Somehow I have an image of Banner in a Cleveland parking garage tipping off the Feds as part of some Dr. Evil-esque scheme to take over ownership of the organization

    • ACViking

      I spent 10 years as a federal prosecutor.

      Generally, when search warrants are being used, the subject of the investigation has a serious problem.

      • GvilleEagleFan

        I’m sure its serious, I was just making a joke on the Boogeyman reputation Banner has right now.

        Unrelated note: do you still practice? What made you leave the prosecutor’s office? I’m heading to law school in the fall, thinking at this moment anyway that I want to go into trial law. Any advice for an aspiring attorney?

        • ACViking

          I was an Asst US Attorney in the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office. It’s been almost 20 years since I returned to private practice. Being an AUSA is the best job a young lawyer interested in litigation can have. But after my family got started, it became time to return to the private sector.

          As for advice: Be a tax attorney/estates-and-trusts lawyer. I’m very serious. The work is extremely challenging. The clients will love you — as opposed to trial clients, who feel they’re being sued or prosecuted wrongfully — because, as a tax attorney, you’re *saving* money for people.

          Stay on T-Law’s blog and keep me posted. I’m happy to provide whatever help I can.

      • GvilleEagleFan

        And do you have any idea what would happen to Haslam’s ownership share in the Browns? I thought he bought it as the majority partner in a partnership, would the pending prosecution affect his other assets?

        • ACViking

          If Haslem were indicted, he’d have to give up “control” — but not “ownership” — of the Browns, as I understand things.

          (Joe Banner may be the fed’s source!)

          But that would be the least of Haslem’s problems.

          If Haslem were indicted by a federal grand jury, I think there’s the very real possibility he’d be facing forfeiture charges and substantive money-laundering charges, along with mail-fraud or wire-fraud charges.

          If convicted of money laundering, any assets and monies obtained by Haslem that’s *traceable* to the alleged underlying rebate fraud (i.e., mail/wire fraud), which found its way into a bank account, would be forfeited to the U.S. Treasury.

          I wouldn’t want to be the house taking odds on how much tainted monies were used to purchase the Browns. Since *traceable* under the federal forfeiture statute is broadly interpreted.

          The Justice Department loves going after big fish. And most local U.S. Attorneys — who are political appointees — are always thinking ahead to the next political plum . . . like US Senator or Federal Judge.

          If Haslem’s in the Justice Department’s cross-hairs, he’s in for a long fight.

          BY THE WAY . . . if a company under investigation is “cooperating,” there’s no need for the FBI to execute search warrants.

          Just sayin’.

          • Ark87

            Sooo….the browns could be forfeited to the US Treasury!? The governments already have the deficit, do they really need to be addled by the Browns on top of it!?

            And would the Browns then officially be “America’s Team” (eat it Cowboys).

          • A_T_G

            And what would they be called? The Bills is already taken, as is the Chargers.

          • Ark87

            As is the Stealers (on synonym grounds)

          • Mac

            My vote would be to move the team down to D.C. and call them the Bureau-cats.

            Mascot would be grumpy cat, with a red ribbon tied on its head… And.. I can’t believe I found it.

          • Ark87

            rofl, nice find Mac. But you know, the Redskins are being pressure to make a mascot change anyway. I think it’s time to start a movement

          • Mac

            That works for me!

  • Neil

    There’s nothing you can glean from stats that you won’t get a much more accurate picture of from tape.

    All the people talking about Jordan’s passes defended stats and his lack of sacks need to chill out. What counts for these numbers is almost random. What if a cover guy misses the incoming ball with his hand by an inch and the receiver either loses concentration and drops it, or even catches it anyway? Does that not count as good coverage? What if a sack man can’t get to the quarterback because of all the short passes they keep throwing, and then when they try to go deep they’re sure to double him? What if he breaks through the double team regularly but he has a good teammate who keeps getting to the QB a hair quicker on those plays and shucks by the end of the season he only has 5 sacks?

    Etc. Stats don’t tell you what went into the stats. You could have two players with 5 sacks, but one was always single teamed and the other one was the focus of the protection scheme every single week. Same player? You don’t know anything about a player until you actually watch him. Then you can make specific, justified critiques that will have predictive power for the player’s success in the NFL.

    • Iskar36

      I put up those stats, not because I believe them to be defining by any means (as I stated in the post, despite poorer numbers, I still view Dion Jordan as the best option among OLBs), but because they do still carry value. Ignoring stats completely is just as bad as relying on stats entirely, especially when we are talking about players over their entire career and not simply one game. Over multiple seasons, if you are an impact player, you are going to make impact plays. That is regardless of if you are being double teamed, have other players on your team that pick up impact plays, etc. Impact plays do generate stats (Sacks, TFL, INTs, PDs, etc). Jordan has made some plays, and it isn’t as if I am trying to suggest that he is not a good player. The question though is, relative to what would be expected of the 4th overall pick, he has not made a ton of impact plays. Going from college to the NFL, it becomes even harder to make impact plays. It doesn’t mean he can’t make that transition, but it certainly is a significant red flag.

      • austinfan

        Plays get paid to make plays, not to look good almost making plays.
        That’s why not making enough “splash” plays is a red flag, the same way making a lot of big plays is a good sign.

        Ideally you want a guy who moves well on film, makes a lot of plays, tests like an elite athlete and lives for football, Mom and apple pie.
        At least at #4 in the draft.

        Later on, you have to compromise, I’ll sacrifice the pie, and maybe his Mom.

  • Mitchell

    Strength and size are actually two different things. Cole could lose the weight and maintain his overall strength. The bulk lost is probably a combination of both fat and muscle. What he loses in weight he will make up for in agility. He’s gonna be fine. Just remember that strength comes more from the central nervous system and not simply the size of the athlete. Also lets say Cole is 10% body fat. If he drops to 5%. That’s like 10-13 pounds rigt there. He’ll probably be a freak this year.

  • Mac

    This post is “behind the times” but I was thinking about the cornerstone comment at length today and here’s my random idiocy on the topic.

    If I’m drafting a cornerstone player, then I am looking for a player who fits the scheme, but can also be used in a variety of ways. I’m looking for a dyed in the wool football player who makes a difference on almost every snap his side of the ball plays. A guy who can be counted on for the next 5 years to lay the foundation. I would want a player with elite talent, but also elite work ethic (especially with a team lead by a mad scientist coach who is going to abuse them all physically to get ready for the season). I don’t think I’m targeting a position, so much as I am targeting a player. I think perhaps certain positions can be ruled out and thereby eliminate some players, but I don’t think it singles out a few positions as being “cornerstone” necessarily. (ex- rule out RB, TE, ILB)

    The best examples of Eagles players I can think of would be Fletcher and Peters.

    Fletch is hands down our best D-line, and hopefully rounds into form as a dominant type player. He is scheme versatile DE/DT. He has already shown that he can play with 2 styles of DCs and 2 different position coaches.

    Peters is the offensive equivalent. If he can stay healthy I view him as our best offensive player. He is scheme versatile in that he is dominant in the passing and run game, and like Fletch has proven he can play with multiple O-line coaches.

    Conclusion:

    My favorites for scheme versatile potential elite players that could: Johnson, Ansah, Jordan, Fisher (in that order)

  • ACViking

    Re: Criminal Mischief

    Ark87 and A_T_G . . .

    That was some great stuff you each wrote.

  • Geagle

    Did you guys see the EJ manuel video interview, with the 3 other journalists(4 split screen)? They pinned EJ down and asked him if you could go to one Team, who would it be…one of the Journalist chimed in and said KC because he would be #1 overall, and EJ laughed it off, but then got serious and said the EAGLES, saying his dad is an Eagles fan……He was then asked about the misconception of him not being able to read defenses, and I dont know that I buy this but,…He said He actually cant wait to play the NFL style where you go through your progressions in order, regardless of the defense (and he thinks it will be easy for him, muscle memory), as opposed to College where he said he had to read the defense first and formost to decide the side of the field they were going to work…sounds kind of BS to me, cant see how going through 5 progressions on every play will be easier than what he was asked to do with half the field…but that doesnt mean he cant be a good NFL QB
    I think something we should keep an eye on, the player we have our heart set not being on the board at 4, and us trading back, maybe even twice to land in like the 15-17 range to draft EJ (Who I think will go top 20, inspight of what many people think)….Im not advocating for it, because if it were up to me we wouldnt draft a single QB this year….but I wouldnt be shocked if EJ manuel is our 1st round pick(if we love him)..Getting like an extra 2nd,3rd, and 4th while drafting EJ, is lightyears better than taking Geno at #4…atleast in my mind