Some of you have asked the question that by going light at OLB, does that mean the Eagles could possibly play more of the 4-3 Under than the pure 3-4?
Sure, that’s possible.
Bill Davis said upfront that the preseason was all about evaluation. Trent Cole dropped back into coverage more in 3 preseason games than he’ll do in 2 months during the regular season. As Davis said, the coaches know Cole can attack off the ball. They wanted to work on his cover skills. That’s the unknown with him.
Davis wanted to see how the team looked in the 3-4. Each week he added more of the defense and got less vanilla. When the season starts on Monday, he’ll either run a more creative and aggressive 3-4 or he’ll run a lot of 4-3 Under. Davis saw this summer that the Eagles aren’t ready to be a traditional 3-4 team.
You have DEs learning to play LB. You have DTs learning to play DE. There is no dominant NT. The ILBs are adjusting to the new scheme as well, although both guys have played in a 3-4 previously.
The preseason taught us a lot about the Eagles offense. We saw the up-tempo attack. We saw 4 TE sets. We saw the read-option. We saw run-pass option plays. We don’t know everything, but we’re not clueless. When it comes to the defense, we really don’t know what to expect. Davis focused on very generic stuff to that he could figure out the players as individuals and as a whole.
The real test for Davis will be to take this knowledge and use it to shape a defense that can be effective. The Eagles won’t be the ’85 Bears. Heck, they won’t be the 2012 Bears. They just need to be “good enough”. They need to make some plays. I think there is enough talent to do that, but it will require creative coaching.
I don’t know if we ever saw Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Trent Cole on the field at the same time. That needs to happen. I’m not sure that Curry and Fletcher Cox played much together. That needs to happen. I’m not sure we saw Seth Joyner and Mychal Kendricks on the field together…okay, just testing you.
I haven’t been critical of Davis this summer because I understood he was focused on evaluation and not overall results. That changes on Monday. Oh, he’ll still be experimenting to figure out which schematic ideas, blitzes and player combinations work, but Davis will be held accountable for the way the defense plays. He must find a way to get the right players on the field at the same time.
One caveat to this…the Eagles aren’t the only up-tempo offense in the league. That means you won’t always have freedom to put out specialized Nickel and Dime units. There will be times when you’re stuck with your base defense. As much as I want to see the creative combinations, Davis can’t put them out there for an extended time. Vinny Curry is a good pass rushing DT. You wouldn’t want him on the field as a DT as part of the base defense very much. The opposing offense has to slow down and/or substitute so that Davis can get creative with his combinations.
I’m excited to see the new defense. I’ve got a lot to learn about the 3-4, 4-3 Under or whatever Davis throws out there.
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Derek, the hack from Iggles Blog, is now doing some feature pieces for the Daily News. Kudos to them for the hire and to Derek for the gig. He is a great writer and will always “learn you good”. That’s redneck for “make you smarter”.
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Speaking of hacks…Jimmy Bama is now a full time Eagles writer for Philly.com. Kudos to them for that hire and to Bama for doing such a brilliant job this summer that they had to hire him.
Jimmy and I will continue to do our podcasts. Jimmy and his agent met with Joe Banner and me to talk terms. He wanted a raise. I explained to him that we don’t get paid for the shows and he said “That’s beside the point” and then started doing sit-ups. He stopped at 4 and was in intense pain. He then agreed to stick with the current deal, our 50-50 split of nothing.
I’m confused. Why would a team that will go 16-0 and win the Super Bowl not be ranked #1. Odd.
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Sorry for the quiet day on Tuesday. Lots of crazy personal stuff going on and then I spent the evening hanging out with Dave Mustaine, Bruce Dickinson and 10,000 crazy metal fans.
I was lucky enough to go see Megadeth and Iron Maiden play last night. Great show. Megadeth was good. Maiden was epic. Those guys are all in their mid-to-late 50’s, but you’d never know it by how well they play and how active they are. Maiden doesn’t just put on a concert. They put on a show.
I was very encouraged to see kids there as young as 5 or 6. I also saw a couple that had to be in their 60’s.
If you like Maiden even a little, go catch a show sometime. You won’t regret it.