Better Run D & More QB Talk

Posted: July 14th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 57 Comments »

Eagles fans haven’t been happy with the team’s run defense for a long time. Even going back to the Jim Johnson era, fans didn’t like the small players the Eagles had and some of the struggles the team had in shutting down the run consistently.

For PE.com I addressed how Chip Kelly’s love of bigger defensive players should lead to better run defense.

One thing I didn’t touch on was the play of the CBs. There is no question that Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams will be better run defenders than DRC and Nnamdi Asomugha. That said, CBs are rarely true difference makers in the run game unless you have someone like Antoine Winfield. The new CBs will certainly help, but the run D will be better more because of the new scheme and emphasis on bigger front seven players.

* * * * *

Bucky Brooks put out a good piece for NFL.com on the Eagles QB situation. He chose to write about how the offense would look if Mike Vick, Nick Foles, or Matt Barkley won the job.

I think Brooks made pretty good evaluations of the players and how they would fit in, but he did miss on some points.

In regard to Vick, Brooks focused on accuracy as an issue. That certainly is true. I think there are two other key points to focus on: mechanics and decision-making. One of the reasons that Vick isn’t consistently accurate is that me is erratic mechanically. Whether we talk about a pitcher, golfer or QB, consistent mechanics are going to lead to consistent results. Vick should have solved this issue years ago, but he wasn’t a student of the game as a Falcon and bad habits are hard to get rid of in your 30′s. He did make a lot of progress under Andy Reid. We’ll see what kind of effect Chip Kelly, Pat Shurmur and Bill Lazor have on him.

Decision-making is the biggest problem for Vick. Part of this is that he tends to be a reactionary QB. Vick wants to see an open guy, then throw it to the receiver. Good QBs anticipate. They know the routes on a play and throw it to a spot rather than waiting to see the receiver come open. This does lead to some mistakes, but also prevents the defense from reacting. How can they react to something that hasn’t happened yet? Compare that to plays where a receiver has come open. The defense sees Vick lock in on the player with his eyes. The defense then attacks the ball/receiver.

Think of this in basketball terms. How often did Magic Johnson or Jason Kidd throw a pass where you went “How did he see that guy?” Great court vision. Unbelievable anticipation. They were a step ahead. They saw what was going to happen, not just what was happening. You want a QB to have that same type of ability. He needs to read the defense and throw the ball to the right spot, often before the receiver has made his break or is clearly wide open. Field vision. Anticipation.

Brooks was a bit generous with Foles.

Foles’ superior arm strength, velocity and zip are a byproduct not of pure arm talent but of his solid mechanics.

I like Nick, but I’m not sure Bucky Brooks and I were watching the same player. I think Foles has a solid arm, but I sure would not describe it as “superior”. There wasn’t one throw last year where I said “Whoa…is that Favre out there or Nick Foles?”

I do think he’ll throw the ball better in the future. I think Foles will be more confident and will have improved mechanics. Also, his body will physically mature and he’ll have great strength training in the NFL. I just don’t ever see him having a “superior” arm.

Barkley gets minimal discussion since so little is known about him. This is all projection with him. I do think Brooks was a bit flippant with this sentence.

Barkley enters the NFL fully prepared to direct an offense from the line of scrimmage.

No college QB is fully prepared for the NFL. I’m sure Brooks is just saying that Barkley is as prepared as possible, due to the fact he was a 4-year starter and played in a pro style system. There is no question that Matt is more advanced than any rookie QB the Eagles have ever had. I think you could say he is one of the more advanced rookie QBs to ever enter the NFL.

Still, the Pac-12 isn’t the NFL. Barkley has a lot of learning left to do. He’s barely scratched the surface of what he’ll know about QB play when his career is all said and done.

* * * * *

Thanks for all the great birthday wishes. You guys are the best.

_


  • SteveH

    I have to imagine Vick’s reactionary style is also at least part of the reason he holds onto the ball so long. If you’re anticipating plays you’re going to get the ball out faster than if you’re waiting for someone to get open.

    Mcnabb had kind of similar issues, I feel like with him he didn’t always trust what he was seeing and that made him hesitant to pull the trigger. Vick has no hesitation when he’s going to pull the trigger but its not always a good thing lol.

    • TommyLawlor

      Steve, you’re exactly right. In order to get the ball out quickly you must be willing to throw before guys are open. If you wait, you’ll hold the ball and sacks will be more likely.

    • MediaMike

      I think the key difference is that McNabb wouldn’t turn the ball over when having accuracy issues where Vick will.

  • bdbd20

    I beg to differ on your point regarding Nnamdi and DRC. Their horrible pass defense was definitely a deterrent to the opposition’s running game.

    • SteveH

      Hah, that’s one way to stop the run.

    • TommyLawlor

      Well played, bd.

  • P_P_K

    A day late, but here’s another B-Day greeting. Hope you have a great year, T-Law. Don’t know where we’d be without you and the Blitz.

  • Jonathan

    I feel like our rushing defense was good for a period of time…

    <>…

    Top 10 from 2007 to 2009 (7th, 4th, 9th)

    • SteveH

      Yeah, that was on the heels of some atrocious games in 2006 though. I remember a few games where teams just ran wild on us and we were helpless to stop it. I seem to remember the Colts just murdering us with the run in an embarrassing fashion…

      and after looking it up, yep, they sure did. Addai and Rhodes combined for 239 yards rushing, and if you look at the box score the first 3 TD’s were: Addai 15 yard rush TD, Addai 10 yard rush RD, Addai 15 yard rush TD. Joseph Addai finished with 4 rushing TD’s on the day.

    • TommyLawlor

      JJ went with some bigger LBs and we mostly had the DTs play 2-gap in that period. Those changes worked pretty well.

  • pkeagle

    Hi Tommy,

    Shock, horror, I’m afraid to say I didn’t look at Iggles Blitz yesterday :-(
    So for what it’s worth……….
    Belated Happy Birthday!!

  • MediaMike

    I cannot wait for training camp to get here. Every pre-season game is going to be a new QB referendum. I’ll be sure to stuff the rhetorical ballot box for anybody but Vick!
    Also, I’ll be on vacation in Vermont for the 8/9 game vs. New England. I’m looking forward to talking Chip Kelly concept NE vs. Chip Kelly concept PHI all night.

  • Flyin

    Tommy,

    You suck!

    Danny G.

    • TommyLawlor

      I’ve got friends and relatives who tell me that on a regular basis.

      • Flyin

        It means a whole lot more when it comes from your outer circle!

        You suck!

  • Flyin

    Foles arm strength comes from proper mechanics… all of his weak downfield passes are due to improper mechanics. Foles does not have a superior arm. He can be fundamentally sound to have an above average arm.

  • Flyin

    Tommy ain’t givin his time no more since he hit that echelon with folk!

    most obvious… why bother with me?

  • Weapon Y

    I like Chip’s philosophy of “big people beat up little people.” That seems to be one of Chip’s best qualities: He doesn’t overthink things. He just looks for simple ways to make his team better.

    I am curious to see whether Billy Davis favors 2-gap or 1-gap defensive line responsibilities. If it is a 2-gap scheme, Sopoaga becomes one of our most important players this year. He needs to clog up the A-gaps and keep running backs behind the line of scrimmage. We’ve lacked that huge defensive tackle for years who could be a true run stuffer. The brief exception to that trend is still on the team: Antonio Dixon impressed me in 2010 as a run-stuffing 2-gap defensive tackle. He could do well in a 2-gap scheme, like he did in 2010. I still think he has some potential as long as he’s in shape and stays healthy. It could be that he requires a scheme that suits his abilities to do well, as opposed to Washburn’s 1-gap Wide 9 alignment. If Davis uses a 1-gap scheme more, the nose tackle isn’t quite as important, but it’d still be nice to have that imposing presence. I’m not sure Bennie Logan has the strength or girth to be effective as a 2-gap nose tackle, but I think he could do well as a 1-gap nose tackle. Logan’s ceiling is Jay Ratliff, who was recently a great, but light 1-gap nose tackle under Wade Phillips and gave the Eagles fits.

    From an X’s and O’s standpoint, I’m in favor of a 2-gap scheme because it gives DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks more freedom to pursue the ball-carrier. On the other hand, I think some players like Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Cedric Thornton, and Bennie Logan will do better in a 1-gap, but the only way to find out for sure is to experiment with both schemes. If the personnel better fits a 1-gap scheme, I’m all for it.

    • A Roy

      Would someone care to explain to me why the NT couldn’t play 2 Gap while the DEs play 1 Gap?

      • Jack Waggoner

        no reason he couldn’t. You can have 1 guy, 2 guys, or 3 guys playing 2 gaps.

    • Jack Waggoner

      I think if the Eagles really wanted to play a lot of two-gap, they wouldn’t have passed up on some of the big two-gappers that you could get a few rounds deep into the draft.

  • Wilbert M.

    Thank you for confirming what I said about Vick some time ago – he is reactionary and not anticipatory- and that can’t be fixed in a 34 year old QB. When Brooks talks about Nicky’s “superior” arm, be might be focusing on release and accuracy more than pure arm strength. After years of Donnie LowThrow and then Vick, I definitely thought it was “superior” watching Foles hit receivers in stride.

    • CrackSammich

      I’m certainly not as knowledgeable as the rest of the board here, but it always looked like Foles was serving his receivers up for the big hits rather than catching them in stride.

  • GEagle

    Anyone know if Bucky visited OTAs? is he talking about Foles in regards to what he saw on Film last year, or is he raving about the recent improvements Foles has been showing at OTA/MC?

    Tom..
    Do you know if the media still has the daily access to TC that they enjoyed at Lehigh? Or is it going to be like OTAs where they only gave media sporadic access?….I always enjoyed the daily training camp reports

    • atb124

      From that context of the article and the video clip he references, it sounds like he’s talking about last year.

      Since we all know the Foles doesn’t have “superior” arm strength and that his mechanics broke down at times last year, and the rest of the article is well written, I think we have to give Brooks the benefit of the doubt and assume it was just a poorly worded sentence, and that what he means is that on those strong throws that Foles makes, it’s due to good mechanics rather than natural arm strength.

      • GEagle

        I can buy that

    • http://www.aceandson.com/blog Richard O’Connor

      Media access to Training Camp is dictated by the league. Through week 2 beat reporter are allowed full access. After that it’s at the team’s discretion although players and coaches must be accessible.

  • eagleyankfan

    I’m not an Eli fan at all. BUT, at times, he does have the knack to throw the wr open, as oppose to waiting for him to be open. His lesser known brother is great for that too.
    Vick — I don’t think there’s anybody who throws a prettier long ball than him. Nobody. Problem is, he’s not always(being kind) accurate with that throw.
    Just a guess. A prediction. A plea? I think the Eagles, as a whole, will have a better YAC this year.

  • Jack Waggoner

    Looks like Jimmy K is going to be the lead BGN writer now

    • Dominik

      Good for him, good for us I guess. Altough I will miss the angle he delivered – was great to be up to date with our rivals and enjoy his great writing style at the same time. :)

  • Julescat

    you point out Dion Lewis tweeting stupidity but not Desean Jackson’s tweeting stupidity?

    why?

    • Dominik

      You don’t want to compare those two, do you? You don’t have to agree with Jackson, but his protest is neither illegitimate nor childish.

      He’s on the same page as Sharpton or Jesse Jackson – you don’t have to like these guys, but they are legitimate political actors.

      • Julescat

        it seemed stupid on his part. Jackson didn’t say a word when a hispanic football player killed a young black guy but now wants to play the race card?

        btw – Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are race hustlers/scam artists and not legitimate political anything.

        • Dominik

          You don’t have to say your opinion about everything that is on the news. The Hernandez killing was a non-racist crime, at least from my level of information. You can make the argument that the Zimmerman case was a racist crime (you don’t have to, but you can), so that’s that.

          Like I said, you don’t have to like Sharpton or J. Jackson, but they are verbal leaders of the black community, as long as the black community doesn’t dissociates themself from them. And as a verbal leader of a community with that size, ~ 13 percent of the population, you are a legitimate political actor.

          • Jack Waggoner

            Yeah… nothing wrong with Jackson expressing his opinion that the verdict was unjust. That’s his opinion and you don’t have to agree with it, but he didn’t overstep any bounds, like saying the jury should all kill themselves or that Zimmerman should be very afraid to walk around his neighborhood, as a couple of other NFL players did.

          • Julescat

            he is using his position on the Eagles to convey his divisive message.

          • Jack Waggoner

            No, he isn’t. He is expressing his opinion like any other American is entitled to do. His celebrity means more people will be paying attention, but he is perfectly within his rights and is representing himself, and not the opinion of the Eagles on the matter.

          • Julescat

            he is wearing an Eagles jersey on his twitter picture. no?

            he tweets about the Eagles training camp and then about Trayvon Martin. He should split his twitter into two accounts and leave the Eagles out of his divisive opinions.

          • Julescat

            please explain how a hispanic guy shooting a black guy is racist when you say so but not racist when you say so. Jackson is a huge hypocrite for ignoring one crime then bleating about the other.

          • Dominik

            I don’t want to get into the details of the Zimmerman case, because that cleary would be off topic. But let me put it this way: there’s no history of Hernandez calling the police about a black suspect in his neighborhood multiple times.

            Again, you don’t have to agree with the opinion that the Zimmerman thing is a racist crime, but you can make a reasonable argument for it – and therefore it is OK for DJax to react like he’s reacting. Doesn’t have to like it, but it’s not comparable to the Lewis tweet.

          • Julescat

            Jackson is using the Eagles to push divisive ideas.

            The Eagles are marketing a team that appeal to all races and people. Jackson is undermining that.

          • Jack Waggoner

            No, he’s not. Just because he says something you happen to disagree with means he did anything wrong. He’s got every right to speak his mind about the verdict as much as you do.

          • Jack Waggoner

            The problem with the Lewis tweet was the depiction of someone as a rat or a snitch, and the implied threat that comes with that, i.e. we all know what happens to rats and snitches.

    • shah8

      This isn’t actually topical.

      • Julescat

        but this board won’t address it. THAT is the point of my post.

        • shah8

          You don’t really have any right to tell other people what to think or do, and you look unhinged for castigating a reasonable opinion on twitter in a thread that has nothing to do with Lewis or Jackson.

          • Julescat

            the author of this site publicly criticized Lewis for twitter behavior.

  • austinfan

    DBs who can tackle won’t impact the run game on a regular basis, but will have a tremendous impact on giving up big running plays, because what you want is the DB to come up when it’s clearly a run in time to make that tackle in open space and keep the back to 8-10 yards instead of 20-40 yards. And take away a half dozen big plays a year and that’s 60-80 yards, or .15-.20 YPC at the end of the season, not to mention a couple killer plays (like the Lynch TD run).

    Think of the difference that Coleman made as a rookie against the Vikings, tackling AP a number times as the last line of defense, whiff on a few of those and AP has a 250 yard, 3 TD game.

    Emphasizing tackling by all your DBs, while not asking them to come up in base run support, will change the character of the defense. Good tackling DBs allow you to play “bend not break” defense between the 20s, because those high percentage short passes and cutback runs won’t become 20 yard gains, so teams will have to earn their first downs, increasing the opportunity for the defense to make stops. And that in turn increases the opportunities to make big plays. It also allows Davis to be more aggressive blitzing five, knowing if the QB completes the pass it’ll be kept in front of his DBs and just be a first down – so he’s gambling big defensive play against moving the chains, not against big offensive play.

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