Chip Kelly and Bill Davis have everyone guessing. They won’t come out and say what the defensive scheme will be. They won’t let the players say anything. We’re all pretty sure this is going to be a 3-4 or 4-3 Under, but the coaches want to keep things a mystery as long as they can.
I’m assuming this is being done to help with the draft. If other teams don’t know exactly what the Eagles will run, they’ll have a harder time pegging exactly what the Eagles are looking for. I’m sure Kelly would love the mystery to help keep opposing teams from knowing how to prepare for the Eagles, but teams will know what’s going on by July, when Training Camp starts.
Practice highlights and player interviews may give away schematic info before then. Right now the players say publicly that they don’t know what is going to happen, but I find that hard to believe. I don’t think they’ve been given a playbook, but these guys need to adjust their bodies to fit the position they’ll play.
Vinny Curry is up to 274 pounds, per Jeff McLane. This shows you he’s gaining weight and preparing to play DE.
Check out this quote from Brandon Graham on what he and Trent Cole are up to…or should I say down to:
“I still don’t know what we’re going to run. The other D-linemen, me and Trent talked like, ‘you ready to make this change if we have to?’ I was like, ‘shoot I’ll be ready,'” Graham said. “[Cole] told me he got down too. He got his weight down so he’ll be able to cover and play in space. That is the biggest thing because we know we can rush the passer, but we just have to make sure when we start dropping we know what to do.”
Graham’s goal is to be at 260. You can bet Cole will be in that same range.
Fan and media speculation has been creative, to say the least. I’ve had people suggest that Vinny Curry could play the 3-tech in the 4-3 Under. I’ve had people suggest Graham play the 3-tech. Lots of people have suggested Trent Cole play the 5-tech role. Everyone’s goal is to find a way to get the best players on the field at the same time. I applaud the creative thinking, but it doesn’t sound like the coaches are going to be that elaborate.
Sounds like Cole and Graham will be OLBs in the base looks and DEs in the Nickel/Dime looks. That allows them to rush the passer and play in space. Yes, they will have to learn to drop in coverage, but that won’t be a primary duty. I think they can be functionally effective at that role. You won’t be able to start both of them and Connor Barwin. My guess right now is that Graham and Barwin will start. That’s strictly a guess, though. And really, the key here is that as Chip Kelly likes to say…the players will make the depth chart. Who plays best will dictate who starts and who plays most.
As for Curry, his role is still less defined. In the base defense he’ll be a 5-tech DE. If Curry is 274 now, he’ll be in the 280-285 range by July. He’ll lose some weight in Camp so he’ll probably be around 280 when the season begins. Is that big enough? Clearly the Eagles think so. They wouldn’t put him at the 5-tech sp0t unless they saw something worth developing. If Cole were 5 years younger, maybe they’d put him at the 5-tech spot. Curry is young enough that he can develop his body and adjust his skill set over time to be a good fit there. 2013 won’t determine if this is the right move. They have time to work with him and let him learn the spot.
Curry could be used creatively in sub-packages. At the Senior Bowl he played DT in some sets and showed the ability to be a good inside rusher. Maybe the Eagles would line him up at the 3-tech in some sets. Maybe they’ll put him on the edge and let him rush as a standard DE. We won’t know what kind of plans they’ll have for him. Curry offers versatility and the coaches may wait to see him in action before deciding on the best ways to use him in the sub-packages.
I’m looking forward to finding out what’s going to happen with the scheme and players, but for now we’ve only got some hints.
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LB Rolando McClain is finalizing a deal with the Ravens. Smart move by him and interesting move by the Ravens. The veteran leadership on that team is way down without Ray and Ed Reed so you can’t automatically expect players to fall into place anymore. Still, McClain has big time upside. Worth the risk since he was just a cheap free agent.
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I forgot to post a link to the new MAQB column by Gimpy. He wrote about the QB prospects in the draft.
David Syvertsen has written some draft previews for the AFC North and East, if you’re interested.