Davis and the Defense

Posted: December 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 67 Comments »

The Eagles defense was awful on Sunday. But Bill Davis made me feel more comfortable with the situation after listening to his PC on Tuesday.

Davis talked about what went wrong. He was critical of his players, in a reasonable way. Davis talked about the fact that there were times when the coverages used by the Eagles needed to be tighter. He also said MIN did some things on offense they hadn’t seen before.

(Quick aside…What the hell is it with the Vikings always coming up with late season adjustments against the Eagles? They blitzed out of nowhere in 2010 and this year went from a conservative running team to a wide open passing attack. Ugh.)

The formations MIN used caught the Eagles off guard. That led to some receivers getting more open than they should have been. Davis also gave plenty of credit to the Vikings for executing well. He made sure to praise Matt Cassel, who really did have a great game.

Davis talked about missed tackles being a big problem. There were too many plays where the Vikings caught the ball and then added too many extra yards. You don’t expect to tackle every receiver immediately, but the Eagles were too generous with RAC yards. You can’t do that when you cover the way the Eagles want to.

No one is under the impression that the Eagles can magically fix the defense and get them to be great, but Davis talked about the defense trying to fix what they could. That’s exactly what you want to hear. No dominant pass rusher, shutdown corner, or playmaking FS is coming through that door. So you focus on fundamentals and try to eliminate the mistakes that aren’t talent-related. You can’t make a player faster or better, but you can help him to play smarter.

The Eagles have a tremendous challenge this week with the Bears coming to town. That offense has terrific skill players. The back seven will be in for a real test. The Eagles will be totally focused on how to slow down this offense. The good news is that Chicago isn’t likely to come up with a bunch of new stuff. MIN was missing 2 key RBs and had to re-invent their offense. The Bears are more likely to do exactly what they’ve done all year.

If so, that means preparation will be crucial. It can help the Eagles more than it did last week.

* * * * *

The Eagles face 2 of the best offenses in the NFL in the final 2 games. They must rally and play better than they did on Sunday. Cary Williams is of the belief that the Eagles didn’t take the Vikings seriously enough. I think he’s a little bit full of it when he says that the Eagles expected the Vikings to lay down. Huh? MIN had played pretty good football in recent weeks, going 1-1-1, with the only loss being the heartbreak special to the Ravens. They hadn’t been blown out since playing Seattle in mid-November.

I can see where players might have not thought the Vikings offense would be very good minus AP, but I find it hard to believe that Eagles players genuinely expected the Vikings to lay down. That’s just a weird thing to say.

* * * * *

My PE.com column was a review of Sunday’s whipping. I’m still working on the DGR.

* * * * *

So we got this going for us, which is nice.

_


  • Tumtum

    30% for the cowboys 70% for us….odd

    • BlindChow
      • Mitchell

        Such a butter face.

    • ICDogg

      makes perfect sense since neither of us is any longer in the Wild Card chase, so it’s either us or them for one spot.

      • Tumtum

        Why so lopsided though?

        • ICDogg

          Even if you coinflip the remaining games, the Eagles are 62.5% favorites. The 70% indicates that FO thinks we are the better team.

          FWIW sportsclubstats.com only has us as 55% favorites.

    • RobNE

      this seems odd to me too, the final game is at Dallas. Even if we are favorites, you would think we’d just barely be a favorite. I think the extra odds towards the Eagles is that the Eagles can win the division Sunday, the Cowboys cannot. That doesn’t seem to be worth as much in my mind as to Football Outsiders, but I hope they know more than I do.

  • Mike Roman

    The Eagles definitely seemed to be missing more tackles then they had been in the previous 5 games. They just looked flat out sloppy. They weren’t aggressive, took bad angles, and couldn’t wrap guys up. The exact opposite of what we saw in previous weeks.

    • Ben Hert

      Patrick Chung is the new Jarrad Page.

      • Ben Hert

        In recent Jarrad Page news:

        “The (L.A.) Dodgers assigned him to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in the Class-A California League on April 23. In 8 games with the Quakes, Page hit .040 (1 hit in 25 at-bats) and he was released on May 29.”

        Apparently his inability to hit moving objects translates across all sports.

  • ACViking

    Re: An Ever-Changing Defense

    When Buddy Ryan became the Eagles coach in 1986, here’s whom he started on defense that first season:

    DE: Reggie White, Gregory Brown
    DT: Kenny Clarke, Reggie Singletary
    LB: Gary Cobb, Mike Reichenbach, Alonzo Johnson
    CB: Roynell Young, Evan Cooper
    S: Andre Waters, Terry Hoage (replaced an injured Wes Hopkins after game 4)

    In 1989, after two more seasons, here’s Ryan’s starting 11 on defense:

    DE: Reggie White, Clyde Simmons
    DT: Jerome Brown, Mike Pitts (rotating with Mike Golic during the game)
    LB: Seth Joyner, Byron Evans, Al Harris
    CB: Eric Allen, Izel Jenkins
    S: Andre Waters, Wes Hopkins

    Huge turnover. Only 3 players survived Buddy’s reconstruction of the defense: White, Waters, Hopkins.

    I’d wager that the magnitude of Kelly’s reconstruction of his defense won’t be very different from Buddy’s handiwork.

    • theycallmerob

      hopefully in the direction of similar results

      • ACViking

        Wouldn’t that be awesome.

        If only Fletcher Cox were Reggie White-II.

        I’ll settle for Fletcher Cox as the next Richard Seymour.

        • theycallmerob

          I won’t settle on anything. I think there is almost no ceiling for Cox.
          He just turned 23 last friday. By comparison, Watt will be 25 in the spring. The Kelly/Huls regimen coinciding with development of [overly scientific term ] “man-strength” should produce a true lab experiment.
          2 other positives:
          -The rest of the DL is looking good, but they’re also incredibly young. Thornton and Logan will, if nothing else, keep teams honest in their coverage of Fletch. He should always dominate 1on1s, and drawing any more attention as a DL in a 2gap34 is a bonus considering the rush LB behind him. I shudder to imagine if a stud like Hageman (DT/NT) is available come draft time.
          -There appear to be few coaching staffs around the NFL as solid as the Eagles right now, and I can’t imagine any one of them losing a job as a result of this season. Lurie’s emphasis on long-term vision and growth is half the reason Chip is here. Azz is probably my 2nd favorite coach of the group, and he should be able to groom Fletch’s ability and technique for years to come.

          • ACViking

            Reggie White showed up in Philadelphia about 4 days before the Eagles’ 4th game of the 1985 season against the up-and-coming NY Giants.

            White utterly dominated, as he did the remainder of his first NFL campaign (and 2nd pro season).

            Playing as a 3-4 DE — just like Cox (and after being a 4-3 DE at UTenn — White posted 13 sacks in 13 games.

            He was, without question, the best DE in the NFL the moment he took the field. And he quickly proved starting in 1986 he was among the greatest DEs to play in the NFL.

            Cox’s ceiling may be, I’m doubting it’s at the level of Reggie White. Or even within a couple floors.

          • theycallmerob

            Hahaha, sorry AC, didn’t mean to make that comparison. My response was more in relation to Seymour; I think Cox at least has a ceiling above that level. He is still a long way away from that ceiling.

            Do you happen to remember White’s assignments in the ’85 season (and those close to it)? How does the defense run by Davis today compare schematically to the one you mentioned?

          • ACViking

            TCMR:

            I assumed to much and should have realized where you were going. Sorry.

            In ’85, when White arrived, the Eagles coach was Marion Campbell, who doubled as the DC, too.

            The Eagles ran a very conservative 3-4 by today’s standards. Zone blitzes didn’t exist yet; only the occasional LB or S blitz.

            But Campbell’s philosophy was very much like Billy Davis’s . . . keep everything in front of you, no big plays, force the offense to execute long drives. In a word, bend but don’t break.

            As for White, he didn’t like playing the 3-4 DE position. He was used to being a 4-3 DE and attacking up field.

            But even lining head-up on the OT in ’85, White still overwhelmed most of his opponents. (One exception was Washington’s Joe Jacoby, whom Gibbs schemed to give extra support with the H-back or HB. But that opened the door for Safety Ray Ellis, who bagged two sacks in a 17-12 loss late in Campbell’s last season as HC.)

    • RobNE

      I loved Wes. Oh my Wes and Andre Waters, you would not want to be about to catch the ball towards the middle of the field. You bring the House, we bring the Pain.

      Of course, they would likely get fined left and right now.

      • ACViking

        Great memories. Those were the days.

        Now, Waters and Hopkins would be broke and suspended for life in today’s NFL.

        I argued in the off-season here that Hopkins — looking at this numbers and his leadership — compares very favorably to Dawkins.

        That horrible knee injury to Hopkins reduced him from what I think would have been a perennial All Pro career, like Ronnie Lott, to just a great safety and occasional Pro Bowler.

  • Rage114

    I don’t see why the change in the Viking’s offensive game plan was hard to fathom. Their typical run game is based on Adrian Peterson. If he isn’t playing, I fully expected them to do something different.

  • Kevin

    Just wondering, did AP not playing hurt the Eagles even more that if he would have played. There is a let down on our side because there is no star player. There is an increase in focus on their side because guys have to ‘step up’. And, finally, the offensive game plan changes and becomes more wide open.
    I am willing to bet the D performs a lot better on Sunday night.

    • P_P_K

      On the one hand, you’re probably right about how AP’s absence played into both teams emotions and approaches. On the other hand, I dread to think about how he would have run wild if the Eagles tackled the same as they did on Sunday.

      • ACViking

        Here’s something out the NFL Cliche Book.

        Good teams find a way to beat bad teams, especially bad teams missing their best player.

        The Eagles weren’t quite as good as 8-5. And the Vikes not as bad as 3-9-1.

        As T-law prophesied before the game, this was a dangerous Viking team — and that was before losing AP.

        • RobNE

          I can’t remember but feel like this has been a problem for awhile. Not bad teams per se, but teams missing a player or where we feel like oh there is an advantage we will abuse all game long. The SD game everyone was like King Dunlap!!! Then nothing. I just feel like backup QB’s in the past have bothered us. What also bothers me about the Vikings game is we seemed to adjust too much for that, with our goal of not making a big mistake. If Chip can go for it on 4th and 1 from our 25 and challenge the guys to make the play, then he can freakin kick off deep too. We loved the Lions game because it felt like we physically dominated, and the Vikings game felt like we were trying to play chess or 4 corners in basketball or I don’t know what.

          • ACViking

            Ah, King Dunlap. A victim of circumstance.

            In fairness to Kelly — as in fairness to Foles every week given his limited experience — Chip’s a rookie coach.

            If he had the Vikings game to do over, he’d do it differently.

            If he wouldn’t then he’s a fool, because what he tried didn’t work.

            (The great former UGeorgia head coach Vince Dooley once said after losing a game in which he unsuccessfully went for it on 4th & Goal, in response a reporter’s question whether he’d call the same play if he could do it over, “NO!!! The play didn’t work.”)

          • RobNE

            Right sometimes I try to catch myself because I was so excited to get Chip as coach that I tend not to give him many benefits of the doubt. Even now….I can see it makes sense if it’s related to the pro game, but he’s been calling plays for a LONG time and his play calling at the end of that SD game when he left way, way too much time on the clock – I have trouble thinking that is because he is a first year head coach in the NFL. Maybe it’s because he didn’t have many close games? I do think in other areas (challenges come to mind), that’s brand new.

          • RobNE

            speaking of this, if you saw the game the Packers have first and goal from the 1, with about 1:30 left against Cowboys who can drive down the field for a field goal easily. Cowboys have one timeout left. Am I really crazy to think the odds are better or equal to fall down on the 1 once or twice then take 2-3 chances at the end zone? I know sometimes you don’t make it, but sometimes you give up the field goal too. Two chances from the one yard line and if you make it there are 10 seconds left. I’d have to think your odds are high. Three chances (fall once, killing Cowboys time out) even higher.

          • ACViking

            Well, the Eagles had 3rd & short and 4th & short and didn’t make it.

            I don’t know of any profession more conservative than NFL coaches when it comes to scoring a TD.

            Had it been a FG, you’re spot on. But a TD? So many things can go wrong.

            In oversimplifying the conundrum of what to call, a run or pass, Woody Hayes is reputed to have said, “3 things can go wrong when you throw the ball, but only 2 things can go wrong when you run it.” (Rumors exists that UTexas legendary coach Darrell Royal actually said that first; but Woody Hayes is most closely associated with the aphorism.”)

          • OregonDucker

            As you know AC, Chip has a photographic memory – he never, ever forgets. This game taught him a few NFL lessons.

          • anon

            we had 2 run back against us in the det game so i think kelly wanted to plan around that. I think his plan made theoritical sense. Patterson averages 30+ per return, we quib and they get the ball around the 30 hopefully, but we avoid chances at big plays. I think he should have changed up once he saw we were giving up so many points but whatever.

            I think the D benefits a lot from field position which they didn’t have on sunday.

        • P_P_K

          When Tommy issued his prophecy, I was prepared to issue a decree of heresy and bring him before the tribunal. I was completely confident that the Eagles matched up great against the Vikes and were going to dominate. Well, I’m an idiot.

  • sew737

    Talking about safeties again, why was Kerry Rhodes avoided?

    • ICDogg

      age

      • Andy124

        Can’t trust safeties who’s first name begins with ‘K’.

        • mtn_green

          Katrick Chung, Kate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Kaquan Jarret.

          • theycallmerob

            how’d you forget Keelan and Kolt?
            we’re doomed. Thank goodness for Earl.

    • D-von

      I read an internet rumor that he was being blacklisted because he was gay. Rhodes has denied. Anyway take this with a grain of salt.

      • RobNE

        I don’t believe that at all.

        • D-von

          I don’t either but the rumor has been flying around. Even if it is true it looks bad on the NFL rather than Rhodes

  • Mitchell

    Playmaking secondary you ask? Look no further than Justin Gilbert in the second round of 2014.

    • NinjaP

      Wouldn’t hurt to add one of the good free agent safeties from oregon either Ward/Byrd.

  • SteveH

    The Bears offense is dangerous but their defense is a bit of a mess. I expect us to run run and run some more. They can be gashed. Hopefully this game Chip lets Shady bust loose.

    • ACViking

      SteveH:

      Reading between the lines of what Shurmur said after the Vikes game, I think that — no matter what the Bears do inside the defensive box — the Eagles will run McCoy more than 8 times.

      Relatedly, I’d expect the Bears to try to duplicate the scheme the Vikings used. And for us to see how Kelly adjusts to it.

      That said, the Bears are hurting on defense. Then again, the Vikings were the 20th-ranked rushing defense before last week.

      On any given Sunday in the NFL . . . anything can happen, and usually does.

      • SteveH

        To me running against the Bears doesn’t even depend on the number of guys in the box, they really struggle against the run and their linebackers have been really poor at run gap filling in the games I’ve seen this year. I’d like to see us challenge their run D in a variety of ways, make their linebackers try and make stops, etc.

        • ACViking

          I agree. And I think — if Kelly had a do-over — he’d feel the same way about running on the Vikings.

          I get the whole “equal opportunity scoring/play-calling based on numbers” philosophy. But sometimes, you just have to run the damn ball no matter what the match-up is in the box. (Buddy Ryan love to say “run the damn ball.” But he neglected to get the linemen or the RBs to do it.)

          That is, unless you have a QB who’s so accurate and perfect in his decision-making you can bank on him never making a mistake.

          Nick Foles may be there one day. He’s not there yet (and I really like him at QB here).

          Maybe if Brees were the QB — with 13 years of starting experience, Kelly could maintain a fundamentalist approach to his own offensive religion. But presently I think something more catholic (small “c” catholic) is in order.

          • SteveH

            I think Kelly’s approach this weekend had more to do with the Vikings being down 4 cornerbacks and us being down for most of the game. If I was Kelly going into that one I would have planned on throwing a lot too, as the secondary was clearly the weakest unit on the team by far.

          • ACViking

            SteveH:

            I understand why (we think) Kelly did what he did.

            I’m just saying if he had a do-over, his game plan would be different. At least in degree if not substance. And I think we’ll see that against the Bears.

            One thing’s for sure, Billy Davis would like a do-over.

          • OregonDucker

            You’re right AC. Chip is still learning the NFL game and how DCs scheme against his offense. I am convinced he is going to significantly morph the offense after the Viking game. A monster of an offense is evolving before our eyes. If we make it to the playoffs, this team will rock!

      • Ben Hert

        I think the return of Lance Briggs is really going to infuse their run-defense with some life, which is a scary thought. If they shut down Shady, I think there is very little chance for us. Interesting stat from the Bears SBnation game preview:

        “In their prior two games (not including Vikings) where they didn’t reach 100 yards rushing, they only scored ten points, combined.”

        Yikes. And with the Bears being great against the pass this year, if Shady doesn’t have a great game, we’re going to be in for a rough Sunday.

        • anon

          can only be the cowboys and giants games not worried about a repeat of that

  • mtn_green

    Defense is a real problem Davis created a plan to cpver the warts. The bad QBs helped cover the warts too.

    For the most part eagle allow receivers to cath ball then tackle cleanly. An accurate day by a QB and receivers that run good routes and catch the ball will burn eagle defensive scheme all day.

    No pass rush, no cover corners =48 points

    • ACViking

      One not-unreasonable concern is what Drew Brees could do to this defense if he gets 2.5-3 seconds to throw.

      New Orleans’ defense is not the Cowboys’. Or even the Vikings’.

      If the Birds should meet the Saints in the post-season, hopefully it’s on a cold, windy day at the Linc. ‘Cause if they meet in NOLA, it could be a bloody ugly afternoon that makes last Sunday look like George Seurat’s Grande Jatte and Circus.
      http://www.webexhibits.org/colorart/jatte.html

      • A Roy

        While listening to Chicago’s “Saturday in the Park.”

        • ACViking

          That’s a beautiful sight.

      • Rage114

        Not necessarily. In the post season, the refs swallow their whistles. While the Eagles CBs are not the fastest, they are big and physical. They might be successful in a playoff game under these circumstances.

        • ACViking

          Eagles in NOLA? Saints are at last a 5 point favorite. But I’m no bookmaker.

          • BobSmith77

            Bet closer to 6.5 or even 7. If it was in Philly, it would be a Saints by 3 or 3.5.

          • Cafone

            Or more… The Saints would shred us.

          • OregonDucker

            If the Saints play in Philly, look out. We will see the Eagles at a much higher level, in D, O, and ST. Chip will throw the book at the Saints – Eagles players will be having fun again. Bet on it.

        • OregonDucker

          Rage, I agree 100%. In fact, Chip’s defenses are physical. Get to the playoffs and magic can happen!

  • Mike Roman

    Off topic, but I can I just say that I love football but hate the NFL? They’re working on contingency plans to move the Super Bowl in the event of bad weather. Either you deal with the consequences of having the game in a northern city or don’t have it there at all. I bet most people in the league office thought that a northern, outdoor Super Bowl was a bad idea but they saw dollar signs everywhere to hold it in New York City. Philly, Chicago or New England would never get this game.

    The Super Bowl is a HUGE event. People circle the game on their calendars and start planning their parties as soon as the schedule is released. A lot of people take off work the next day. Can you imagine the inconvenience to the thousands of fans going to the game and the millions watching it if the league decided to move the game?

    So what is the cutoff line? 2 inches of snow? 8 inches? A major blizzard that shut down the east coast would be acceptable to me, but not much else.

    Can anyone tell that I’m bored at work?

    • Cafone

      I hope it’s a complete disaster so they never do it again.

  • Bill

    The Vikings didn’t come up with their own late season adjustment in 2010 – they copied the Giants from the week before. The Miracle at the New Meadowlands was really the beginning of the end for Vick’s success. It was a fun game to watch but the crazy 4th quarter covered up the Giants game plan that was successful for 3 quarters. Reid and Vick weren’t good enough to anticipate and beat the blitzing book that the Giants started and Vikings implemented.

    • Tumtum

      I always remembered it as the Vikings who drew up that blue print. I didn’t recall the Giants using a fast/good tackling corner to blitz from the slot.

  • BobSmith77

    Didn’t have a good feeling for this team the entire year but I feel pretty solid (unfortunately) that they are going to drop the last 2 games and be home again for the 3rd consecutive January.

    Really hope the Eagles & Kelly aren’t kicking themselves for having a mental letdown against a Vikings’ team they absolutely should have beat.

    • anon

      i think that first para belongs on the cowboys blog.

    • Michael Jorden

      The team has improved in almost every way from last season. Not sure how you could not feel good about it, but I agree we were very unlikely to make the playoffs. However, we still might and that says a lot about this team =)