How Much Change?

Posted: February 3rd, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 145 Comments »

Everyone agrees that the Eagles defense needs help. Watching Seattle dominate in the Super Bowl certainly made everyone say “Let’s go get some of those guys!” While the Eagles will try to upgrade on defense, don’t count on major changes right away.

In my PE.com column on lessons to learn from the Super Bowl teams, my first point was “Be Patient”. Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was the Seahawks defense. It takes time to build up a great unit.

There is also something to be said for working new players in slowly. Mix in a couple of guys a year. When you make big changes at once, you’re going to have chemistry and communication issues. Football is a team game. This isn’t like building the Miami Heat on the fly. Even if a current player isn’t in your long term plans, there can be value in keeping them around for a season or two.

The Eagles will almost certainly return 7 starters from 2013: Thornton, Logan, Cox, Barwin, Kendricks, Williams, Fletcher. There is a good chance that DeMeco Ryans returns. There is a solid chance that Trent Cole returns. And if you count Earl Wolff, that would be 10 of 11 starters. The biggest question mark right now would be Nate Allen, because he is a free agent. And it sounds like he wants to come back.

There is a possibility that the Eagles bring back all 11 starters on defense.

Say what? But what about the need for upgrading? What about the need for speed?

The Eagles will bring in help, but these players won’t be thrust into starting jobs right away. The new players will have a chance to earn jobs. We all know how much Chip Kelly loves competition. He’ll give everyone a shot to show if they belong.

Before you get too fired up about how crazy it would be to bring back all 11 starters, think about the Super Bowl. MVP Malcolm Smith didn’t start the game. He was a role player. Seattle actually started some Nickel players like Cliff Avril, Clinton McDonald and Michael Bennett. They sat starters Tony McDaniel, Red Bryant and Brandon Mebane.

Defense is about 15 to 20 guys. Offense is generally 11 starters plus a role player or two. Coaches can play lots of different guys and in lots of different looks when it comes to defense. Seattle played their best pass rushers and cover guys. They focused on stopping Peyton Manning. If the Eagles build up the depth of the defense, they can do more of that type thing in 2014. Bill Davis and the coaches got more creative as the year went on, but they simply didn’t have the guys needed to be very creative.

Imagine for a second that the team adds a speedy ILB and S. Davis could go to a 3-3-5 look with Curry, Cox and Cole as the DL. He could have Barwin, Kendricks and the rookie at LB. The DBs would be the starters plus Brandon Boykin. That would give you pretty good speed on the field. Davis could go to a 4-1-6 Dime look. The DL could be any number of combinations. Then you could have Kendricks at LB. The DBs would be the starters plus Boykin and the rookie S.

The Eagles struggled in 3rd down defense. The base unit was pretty good. You can mix in specialty players to units situational units. Those guys can have defined roles that make it easier for them to get on the field quickly and contribute right away.

 

The Eagles will add defensive speed and talent this offseason. Those guys can have an impact, even if they don’t start. Hopefully a player or two will emerge and either win a job or seriously challenge for a spot.  Just don’t count on a bunch of new starters.

* * * * *

One other note about Seattle. Be careful about using them as the measuring stick. They landed the best CB in football in the 5th round. They have the best S duo in the league. The Eagles can build up a good defense, but counting on them to try and put together an elite unit like what Seattle has is a bit much. That group is special. Time will tell how special.

_


  • therevxxx

    I am looking forward to seeing what upgrades are made on defense. With that being said, before people go too crazy today about “defense wins championships”, I would recommend reading this article which argues that it isn’t great defense that wins, it is a team being great in either offense or defense.

    http://freakonomics.com/2012/01/20/does-defense-really-win-championships/

    • therevxxx

      this is an old article btw… but I still think it is a quality read

      • Anders

        Great read. Eaglesrewind did a similar analyze before the start of the season.
        This is why I just want a dominating offense (lets go from 2nd to 1st) and are okay with an average defense there can just create turnovers and get the ball back to the high powered offense.

        • A Roy

          Not to criticize, but how does improving our offense to what Denver has and then improving our defense to what Denver has make us a better shot to win the SB?
          I agree we need to upgrade both. I’d rather the O upgrade at WR and an OL at some point. That may put us over the top. The D, on the other, still has to make major strides and must get into the top 10 for us to be an elite team and a true contender. That means a real pass rushing ILB, a quality S, a quality CB, and another decent DE and DT.

          • Anders

            putting us at Denver’s level in terms of points on defense would be a step back. So no I do not wants us at that level on defense.
            I also thought Denver’s offense was overrated down the stretch.
            If you have a top 2 scoring offense and top 15 scoring defense, you have an elite team imo.
            On offense we need WR and OL depth and if most of the important offensive players stay healthy, we will be a top 2 scoring offense.
            If we can upgrade safety, pass rush and tackling, we should get into top 15 in scoring defense next year.
            CB can be upgraded, but Williams, Fletcher and Boykin is good enough. DE and NT just need depth.

          • A Roy

            Well, someone else commented that Denver got to play Phila, Dal, NYG and Wash, so that helped their offensive totals immensely.

            We need a D that can routinely get off the field on 3rd and long.

            Looking at the positions you list and those I list, we’re pretty much in agreement on where the upgrades are needed.

          • D3FB

            DE- Kruger is going to develop into that guy

            1- Marcus Smith
            2- Kyle Fuller
            3- Kenny Ladler
            4- Justin Britt
            5- Cody Lattimer
            5- Shamar Stephen
            7- Bene Benweikere
            UDFA: Dri Archer, Kain Colter, Tyler Starr, KJ Morton, Armand Jennifer, Zac Kerin

  • eagleyankfan

    I don’t know the numbers but it seemed Seattle was able to put on pressure without a lot blitz plays. Getting better on 3rd down starts with pressure on the QB. Your secondary gets better by default if you have a disruptive front 3 or 4… I don’t mind waiting on players to develop. I’m curious to see Logan’s full potential.

    • Anders

      Agree, that is why I wants to upgrade Cole first and foremost.
      Also why a guy like Dee Ford is my top target for OLB, because he is the best pass rusher after Clowney.

    • Patrick

      I think i saw on twitter that the Seahawks blitzed on 5 of 61 snaps.

      • Anders

        They also played in nickle most of the game often playing a 3-3-5 with the 3 DLs been all pass rushers and then blitzing a LB.

        • 47_Ronin

          Was Seattle really in a 3-3-5 nickel? I thought Seattle was in 4 man front of Avril, Bennett, McDonald and Clemons. Looked like all had their hands on the ground.

          • Anders

            Im pretty sure it was Avril, Bennett, Clemons and Irvin to start the game and Irvin is the SAM lb.

  • kevinlied

    I don’t know that the Heat is the best analogy. If the Eagles were able to acquire Sherman, Luke Keuchly, and Aldon Smith, I hazard to say their D would improve, chemistry challenges or not. Your larger point is a good one, but the other lesson we learned from 2011 is that the guys the eagles brought on were drastically overrated. Aso was a dumpster fire; two years later, he’s out of the league. Babin had one dimension. DRC didn’t like playing football. Jenkins, meh.

    • D3FB

      I’d argue that if the team acquired all three of those players the overall team performance would decrease simply because you’d be spending around 40 million on 3 players which is about a third of your cap.

      • kevinlied

        Well, fair enough (though at least two of those guys are on rookie contracts, right?), but I wasn’t accounting for cap ramifications. My point was, chemsitry issues were only part of the problem that came from 2011’s spending spree. The bigger problem was that the newbies way underperformed.

        • D3FB

          Gotcha, I missed that originally.

  • mksp

    That play Kam Chancellor made to cover his guy up the seam, read where Peyton was going with the ball, release his guy and jump to hit Welker and dislodge the ball with a perfectly timed, legal hit? Lets get guys like that.

    • Media Mike

      I’m sure taking Daniel Te’o Neshiem and Trevard Lindley were better options than taking Chancellor.

      • Anthony Hart

        A ton of teams passed on Chancellor multiple times that draft, it’s really stupid to go back and knock the team for not grabbing a guy like that. Every team has great hits with later picks and big misses with earlier picks.

        • Media Mike

          I hear you on that note, but at least Graham and Allen were guys (in spite of not working out) who people knew were potential draft targets and well thought of football players. Te’o Neshiem was a MEGA reach and Lindley was damaged goods. We at least all saw multiple games of Chancellor playing for VA Tech as opposed to Washington and Kentucky never being on TV. I really don’t rip the Graham pick over Thomas using hindsight, but taking BS program football players over where they’re mocked is never ok.

          • Anders

            OMG I DIDNT SEE A PLAYER ON TV IN COLLEGE SO HE SHOULDNT BE PICKED

          • Maggie

            Actually Washington was on TV. Just not where you are.

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

        It’s the coaching (Carroll), not the players. That “brilliant” GM has only hit on 40% of his 1st rounders, Thomas and Okung. DL, WR, and TE all had to be helped through FA, and their RB was a gift from BUF like Peters was for us.
        When you can plug and play these late round CBs into a scheme and have them succeed- and I’m talking Maxwell and Thurmond as well as Chancellor, Sherman, and Browner- it is a testament to the coaching job by Pete Carroll.

        • 47_Ronin

          I think it is a little more than plugging a guy in. There was an article on SI on Carroll’s philosophy regarding the types of DBs he likes, and all the guys you mention fit Carroll’s preference for size, so he and the GM Schneider are looking for a particular profile of player, whether through he draft or FA, they are making evaluations.

        • Stephen Stempo

          don’t discount good old fashioned luck too.

        • Maggie

          Do we know when Schneider made questionable top picks? Was it his first year on the job? And how much input does Carroll have on drafting? Hmm. some of these questions sound mighty familiar.

    • shah8

      Oh man, you oo’ed and ahhh’ed after that play?! So did I!

      • mksp

        Thought it was the play of the game.

        Personified everything the Seattle defense is about in a single play. They were prepared, smart, aggressive, fast and physical.

  • Weapon Y

    Seattle wasn’t perfect, but they were just VERY good at what they do. Their defense is the engine of their team. The offense isn’t flashy, but they dont make mistakes. They get the job done. The Eagles probably need the opposite. They need an unbeatable offense and an ok defense that isn’t a liability. Neither unit is there yet, but neither is that far away from being where they need to be. I would not be opposed to signing Maclin and Cooper and still signing/drafting another wide receiver to get the Eagles to be the best offense in the NFL. The defense is a work in progress that realistically will take a few years. The worst thing Roseman and Kelly can do is try Dream Team 2.0. That doesn’t mean avoid a key free agent or two like Jairus Byrd or TJ Ward, but it does mean avoid overpaying for mediocre talent.

    • Anders

      Agree, lets get from very good, to great on offense and lets get from just below average (in terms of points) to just above average and we will be a scary team.
      I agree on the last part.

      • Weapon Y

        One crazy idea regarding free agency and the offense: How would you feel if the Eagles brought back Maclin and Cooper, and then signed Hakeem Nicks to a reasonable contract? Then, I’d go get a unique talent like DeAnthony Thomas in the 3rd or 4th round, and you’d easily have the best skill players in the NFL.

        • Anders

          Problem is, how do you play them all? Also your idea would mean around 30 mill would be put into WRs where many teams do not spend more than 15.

        • A Roy

          We need one of the large, fast WRs coming out this year. Beyond that, if we sign Maclin, good. If we sign Cooper, good. We’ll be fine.

          • Anders

            Do we really need one of those?

          • A Roy

            If we had someone with Cooper’s size that could get some separation and demand a safety’s help, that would open up the running game even more. And with a speedy slot… Maclin? … there’s your #1 offense.

          • Anders

            The WR you just described is a top 5 pick or you have to get lucky and get a guy like Gordon.

          • A Roy

            I think there will be three or four who fit that bill. Lots of underclassmen coming out this year. Of course, luck is good.

          • Anders

            For me a big and fast guy is someone who is 6-3 and 220 and runs around a 4.5.
            For me Terrell Owens was the perfect size/speed combo. In todays NFL there is a few with that combo like Josh Gordon or Da’Rick Rogers. Riley Cooper also fits, so from a pure size/speed point, Cooper is the perfect WR.

          • Weapon Y

            No, we don’t need one. But that’s the point. Don’t let good be good enough. Demand greatness from your team and give them the resources to be great.

          • Anders

            My point is more does a big fast WR really make an offense better if he isnt any good? Momah was tall and fast.

          • Maggie
        • Maggie

          Hakeem Nicks? Past his best.

  • Media Mike

    Excellent, smart, poised, and contained QB play by Wilson down the stretch this year was key for Seattle as well. Wilson smartened up and hardly ran at all, but used his legs to extend plays keep his eyes down field to make accurate passes. Glad to see that Steve Young, John Elway, and Russell Wilson win while Vince Young, Kaepernick, Scam Newtwon, and Vick do not.

    Don’t let anybody fool you and claim Wilson was a “running QB”, he’s not.

    • Anders

      Wilson is a scrambling QB as I like to say, he scrambles to pass then run.
      It is 1 reason why I really love Manziel, he scrambles to pass first then runs if needed.

      • Media Mike

        Manziel runs far too much and is going to get lit up in the NFL unless he learns to get his internal clock moving faster.

      • Stephen Stempo

        steve young-esque. Wilson is going to get better and good for him he deserves it. Smart kid

    • Buge Halls

      I’d argue that Nick Foles has the same style, albeit slower. He will scramble as needed, but (despite what the long-necked Collingsworth is fond of saying) he usually is looking downfield to make a pass when he’s running. If he does take off, at least he’s wise enough to slide or run out of bounds. Goes well with Kelly’s mantra of Touch Down, First Down, Get Down!

  • Vick or Nick

    Honestly. Looking back broncos did play the NFC east for 4 games against really bad defenses. Eventually their dink and dunk offense was going to get exposed by teams that can tackle. They struggled to throw the ball down field. Seattle DBs are big but not necessarily fast.

    • A Roy

      I was impressed by just how inaccurate Manning was on the passes > 6-8 yards. I think Aikman or (ugh) Buck commented correctly on his lack of arm strength, but he was also inaccurate. I’m not sure how much of that inaccuracy was DL pressure, perceived DL pressure or age/surgery.

      • Stephen Stempo

        I think a lot of it had to do with seattles press totally messing up the timing and rythm of those deep throws. Guys just couldnt get to the spot manning was throwing. didn’t help that he was rushed.

      • ChaosOnion

        Manning’s arm looked excellent against NE. I think it does a disservice to the SEA defense to put this on Manning.

  • Corry

    You have to give the coaching staff and front office credit for putting together a great team. The GM is delivering the players Carroll wants and Carroll and company are shaping them into good to great players. You can select all the top talent in the world, but if your coaching staff can’t develop the players, they’ll fail just the same.

    • Anders

      Agree, I think it is 80/20 in coaching/gm. The GM drafted some not so great early, but coaching really coached up the late round draft picks.
      The GM even is a terrible cap manager and have made some really bad trades and FAs signings on offense off set by some great ones on defense.

      • Ben Hert

        You (and theycallmerob in last nights post) spend an awfully large amount of time ripping a GM that just put together one of the most dominant Super Bowl wins ever.

        Not-so-great early round picks? Russel Okung, Earl Thomas, Bobby Wagner, and Russel Wilson? I think finding pro-bowl caliber players at QB, S, LT, and LB is pretty impressive team-building. I’ll give all the credit in the world to Pete Carroll for coaching up Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor, but you can’t act like Schenider didn’t have a hand in bringing guys like that in.

        Lest we forget he helped build the Packers roster to one that won a Superbowl despite a ridiculous amount of injuries to key players. He didn’t have Pete Carroll there to coach up all those late round guys to step in on the NFL’s greatest stage and bring home a Lombardi.

        You cited the Zack Miller contract as if its entirely indicative of his cap management ability. Sure, its not the best TE contract ever signed, but its far from a colossal mistake that will affect the team for years to come. Its not like contracts for marginal players never get reworked in interest of the team’s cap management. Where is credit for the Cliff Avril signing, a guy who has as much of an argument for Superbowl MVP as Malcom Smith did? Brandon Browner? You can’t single him out for one bad signing, then backhandedly mention that he made some great defensive signings.

        And it seems the entirety of the argument rests on the fact that all their good players are going to need to be paid soon. I fail to see how its his fault for finding cheap talent that can step-in right away? Your logic:

        “Do you know they are paying 11 mill for Zach Miller? They got horrible cap management, but is saved by cheap young talent. ”

        I dunno, but I’ve always understood good cap management is getting players to perform under cheap contracts at a young age, and then retaining the key ones, and filling the gaps with more young talent. That seems to be exactly what the Seattle MO is, and you’ve said so yourself.

        I don’t think there is a team in the NFL that wouldn’t like to have John Scheider fill a GM vacancy for their team if one were to open. Give credit where credit is due. Carroll is a great coach, but its ridiculous to say that Schnieder didn’t have a heavy hand in putting together one of the most dominant teams we’ve ever seen.

        • Anders

          I meant first round. Also again Wagner+Thomas is 80% Carroll imo.

          Nah the Packers just had Mike McCarthy who can coach offense and Dom Capers is a great DC as well.

          Regarding the cap management, giving Zach Miller 11 million is enough to dis qualify one for any discussion about a good GM. Miller wasnt and never has been worth that much money, let alone in 1 season.

          Again for me, coaching and cap management are where teams separate them self, as scouting is really a crap shot (you can draft high 10 years in a row, but if the coach is crap, it wont matter), Carroll is a great coach masking the cap management problems.
          Reason why AR stayed for 14 years was because he was a good coach and Banner was a great cap manager.

          • Ben Hert

            Dom Capers of the 24th ranked defense in scoring allowed and 25th in total yards allowed this year. Also, I try and keep my own opinions from discussions like these, but I feel that Dom Capers is more known as an X’s and O’s kind of guy, less of a “player-developer”. I’d love for AC Viking to refresh me on that in terms of well-known players that could be considered a Dom Capers product.

            As much as we’d love to absolve Howie of the Dream Team, it still happened under his watch, and the signing of a (in hindsight, of course, but NFL GM’s get paid for the gift of foresight) declining superstar CB in NA was much more egregious that signing Zach Miller to a large contract. And I still think of Howie as a great GM, and I’m sure you do as well.

            I agree wholeheartedly with that statement. Excellent fundamentals made Seattle superbowl champions, and that’s something embodied by their coaching staff. Of course the counter to the statement “You can draft high 10 years in a row…” is that you can have a terrific coach, but if you don’ get him the players he needs, it won’t matter. I guess I’m of the mindset that coaching and “GM-ing” (cap-management, however you put it) are where it all starts. My interpretation of your opinion is that (tell me if I’m wrong), in the end its the coach who determines the outcome of the team, whereas I suppose I see it as a more symbiotic relationship. I think that’s something we have in Philadelphia right now, and its exciting. So if we continue to get better, and eventually Chip and Howie bring us our Superbowl, I’ll make sure and jump on you anytime Rosemann gets credit for putting together this team, despite several mistakes made ;) Then again, if that day ever comes, I’m sure I’ll have a lot better things on my mind than to think of something like that.

            Also, I think I might have come off a bit combative in my earlier posts, for which I apologize if I did. Was not intended to be as such. I really enjoy a lot of your posts and draft insights.

          • Anders

            Banner and Reid was the guys in charge, Roseman was GM by name only.

            GM and coach needs to be on the same page, aka the GM finds, draft and signs the players, but in the end coaching matters more, just see Nate Allen (very talented safety prospect destroyed by Castillo’s Frankenstein defense).

            Carroll most likely tells the GM to draft him long physical CBs late for him to develop, so do we give most credit for the GM for finding unpolished long physical CBs or Carroll for coaching em up? Im pretty sure most coach scouts can find that player, but there is only 1 guy in the whole world who can coach DBs like Carroll

          • Maggie

            Are you saying that Carroll has no input on the draft???

          • Anders

            no, what Im saying is that Carroll most likely tell the GM what type of players at each position he has to look after, the GM then finds those players and Carroll coaches them up.

  • Anders

    It is pretty funny how much fans hated Reid’s obsession with speed on defense, when we just saw Seattle win a SB because of their speed in the front seven.
    We also has to remember a guy that Kelly is often compared to in Jimmy Johnson, won with speed on defense and Kelly him self won with speed and lenght (not mass) at Oregon.

    • A Roy

      Personally, I hated the fact Reid brought in DL “fastballs” who were not big an d strong enough to 1) stop the run and 2) pressure the QB. Of course you want fast defenders. There’s no irony here, it’s just a fact. Big, strong, fast defenders.

      • Anders

        Are guys like Earl Thomas, Wagner, Wright or Malcom Smith big guys?
        Eagles list of 1st round defenders:
        Corey Simon, calling him small would be a joke, had a great rookie season, but got too heavy.
        Sheppard: 5-10, 196, standard size, had great speed
        McDougle: 6-2 262, on the short side, but size wasnt really his problem
        Mike P: 6-1, 300, little short, but was a wrecking ball in college, became on of NFLs best run defenders for 3-4 years.
        Bunkley: 6-2, 306, perfect size for 4-3 DT, was a great college player, have become a really great run defender and is now a NT in a 3-4.
        6-2, 274, a shorter DE, but was a terror in college and has shown flashes, is a misfit at 3-4 OLB (not really Reid’s fault when he was drafted for a 4-3 team)
        Cox, 6-4, 300, perfect size, great pick.
        of those picks only McDougle and Graham was really undersized for a 4-3 DE.

        • A Roy

          Every time AR brought in a FA or a lower round pick, he described him as a fastball.
          Wish Graham hadn’t gotten hurt. He was a real stud at Michigan.

          • Anders

            true, but it was often more about how he played than his size.
            a guy like Cole is a fastball type.

        • mksp

          What stands out on that list is the lack of length. Which is a big focus of Chip’s.

          • Anders

            Agree, I 100% think Kelly is going length over mass. That is why I doubt we would draft Dee Ford, but he is still my favorite player right now.

        • Patrick

          I don’t really think the Seahawks are a small team. Earl Thomas is unquestionably small but he does play in a secondary with along side Sherman, Browner and Chancellor who are all oversized + Maxwell and Thurmond aren’t exactly undersized.

          While Wright and Wagner aren’t big players, they are pretty much the same size as Willis, Bowman, Cushing, Kuechly, Ray Lewis, Demeco etc. That allows them to get away with having a guy like Malcolm Smith or Bruce Irvin in.

          The same goes for Clemons and Avril who might be a little small. They played along side Bryant(who I saw a lot yesterday), Mebane and Michael Bennett. Thats a lot of size man.

          Obviously their secondary has everyone thinking they are a huge team, which they aren’t, but in my opinion you can’t say they are a small team either. At some key positions(Clemons, Smith, Irvin) they have some smaller players, but overall they’re at least pretty average size.

          I personally think the key is(outside of getting plain good players), not to get undersized guys and if you do you better make damn sure that he is special. No sense going over the top and drafting huge players in all positions just because of their size, although I do like length on players, but just don’t go undersized every time. Kinda the same philosophy as the whole good motor debate. It’s a plus, but don’t draft a guy just because he has a good motor.

          • Anders

            My point was more that the Eagles wasnt that undersized either, even tho we drafted a a lot of “fastball” types.

          • DaO_Z

            This is funny, you listed the big guys as small, and the small guys as big…go look up the size of these guys…

        • D3FB

          KJ is 6’4 245 thats a pretty big LB.

          • Anders

            True, not sure why I remembered him smaller

          • D3FB

            For what it’s worth I thought Bobby Wagner was bigger than 6’0 241 and I thought KJ was smaller than he’s listed.

          • Anders

            I knew Wagner wasnt that big for the times when people complain Kendricks is too small and we should have picked Wagner.
            One thing people forget is how small ILBs have become, guys like Sean Lee, Willis, Ryans, Washington, Bowman etc. are all just around 6’0 and 240.

      • http://www.corcommunity.com/ theycallmerob

        and a couple of screwballs, like Sconces

        • A Roy

          Funny how you need a couple guys with a screw loose, but if you get a few or several, total chaos.

    • eagleyankfan

      I normally agree but I don’t think speed alone is what made Seattle great on D this year.

      • Anders

        100% not, but they still had a lot of undersized guys who brought a lot of speed. Take the MVP, Eagles fans would hate a guy like that as a LB.

        • eagleyankfan

          True. That’s where I think a dominant front line helps. You get pressure – the secondary doesn’t have to be elite – they just have to be good.

          • Anders

            Agree, that is why Im banging the table for Dee Ford atm.

    • Buge Halls

      Fast is one thing, but the inability to tackle means all of those “fastballs” Reid threw at opposing offenses simply bounced off of the players instead of bringing them down. Seattle’s defense is anything but small but they are still fast. Two things that Reid couldn’t seem to put together.

      • Anders

        dam those last two years really have people forgetting the defenses up to around 2008.

        • Buge Halls

          You mean when Johnson was in charge of the defense and told Reid who to draft?

          • Anders

            you mean the defenses that was mostly drafted before the Reid era? :P

  • Mike Roman

    “The Eagles will bring in help, but these players won’t be thrust into starting jobs right away”

    Sorry, but I’m hope you’re wrong about this. The Eagles damn sure better bring in some players who can take over some starting roles right away. That’s fine if you make them compete … but you better get some guys who should clearly win those competitions. The defense was average and they need to get better. Let’s suppose the Eagles do return 11 starters on defense .. don’t bring in a safety who will struggle to beat out Earl Wolff. Why bother? And don’t tell me that Fletcher or Williams can’t be upgraded. Or Nate Allen. Or Bennie Logan. They’re all okay players but I’d rather them be the role players in various packages like you mentioned above.

    I absolutely agree that defense is about 15-20 guys. But we need 6 or 7 that are better than we have now. I also agree that we can’t expect the Eagles to turn into a Seattle-esque defense overnight. Well, I guess if we drafted Earl Thomas when we had the chance we’d be closer than we are now, but who’s counting?

    • Anders

      If we bring in mid level tier guys, those will be brought into compete with hope they can challenge the old guy here.
      Of course if we bring in Byrd or Orakpo, they are expected to start, but lets say we bring in a Clemons, he will have to beat out Allen (if brought back) and Wolff.

    • BreakinAnklez

      Its all about who’s available and who will be a fit. Is there even a FA corner out there to upgrade too? We’ll see…

    • BreakinAnklez

      And enough with the Earl Thomas crap. Graham was looking good pre injury as was Nate. Hindsight makes criticism easy. Who knows how Thomas would have looked with Wide-9 and his main priority being to stop the run. Carroll is also a DB wizard. Can’t say he’d developed same way with Juan and Co. on D.

      • Mike Roman

        I just threw out Earl Thomas to drive Tommy crazy. I actually like Brandon Graham quite a bit. Talk about someone having bad luck. Injury, then comes back and gets stuck behind Babin in that damn Wide-9, then has to transition to a 3-4 outside linebacker.

        My overall point though is that we need some players to come in and not just compete, but be able to upgrade some areas of weakness. I may just be misreading what Tommy was trying to say though.

        • BreakinAnklez

          Ok. Didn’t mean to jump on you, but I’m so tired of that statement. I agree we need to upgrade in FA, hopefully it’s with right players.

          • Mike Roman

            Lol, it’s all good. I didn’t take it that way.

      • Sean

        I’m not sure which Earl Thomas narrative is worse at this point: that the Eagles made the mistake of the century by not drafting him, or that he probably wouldn’t have turned into a good player anyway if they had. That’s not even hindsight; it’s pure speculation.

        • BreakinAnklez

          And where exactly did I say he wouldn’t have turned into a good player? Please don’t put words in my mouth.

          • Sean

            First of all, you did list several reasons he likely wouldn’t be the player he is today. I wasn’t referring to you specifically, anyway. It just seems weird to me that this dichotomy over Earl Thomas has emerged. According to Eagles fans, he’s either the greatest defender in the history of defending things or a (overrated) player who probably wouldn’t have panned out in an Eagles uniform.

          • BreakinAnklez

            No second of all? I kid, I kid.

            Circumstances matter. Coaches matter. Look at the leaps Vick made with Andy/Marty. Not even close to the same QB he was in Atlanta under Reeves/Mora/Petrino, etc. If he had Reid his whole career, maybe he’d be in the convo of greatest ever.

            I just hate the argument that we’d have this all world safety, which makes the graham vs Thomas argument stupid.

          • Sean

            Of course the situation matters. I’m not taking a stance on either side of the GETD (Great Earl Thomas Debate). Circumstances don’t account for everything though. Vick took steps backward in his next two years under the tutelage of Reid/Mornhenwig, so the effect of their coaching was limited and apparently temporary.

  • CTAZPA

    Lurie is one of the best owners, but the free agent narrative that is coming from the organization is transparent and amusing. They love when people mention the “dream team” free agent signings. Lots of issues messed with that team, but the narrative is that too many free agents, including one superstar high priced one, Nnamdi, were a mistake, never to be repeated. While there’s obviously truth to that, the motive seems to me to provide cover for not pursuing big name guys.

    I’m not even saying they’re wrong, I just like noticing the clear, simplified message that the fan base seems to be understanding. It reminds me of a decade ago when Lurie used to take criticism for being unwilling to make that one big signing to put the team over the top. “He does just enough to get them in contention, so he can make his money, but he doesn’t want to pay big money for that one critical free agent.”

    When Tommy describes building a piece at a time, that patient approach is embraced by the Eagles organization. It seems like most fans are on board too.

    • ICDogg

      I think it is a simple message, and it comes down to there are no shortcuts for doing things right.

    • Tumtum

      ICDogg hit it on the head I think. It feels like your claiming the Eagles don’t spend. That’s pretty fictitious don’t you think? Just one year after the collapse of the “Dream Team” they gave Connor Barwin the 2nd biggest deal of any rush LBer in FA and Cary Williams the 4th biggest deal of any FA CB. The Eagles have always spent money under Lurie. Don’t hitch your fact wagon to a phrase they have used a few times.

      • D3FB

        Exactly. Plus there is now a spending floor, so it’s not like the money isn’t being spent. It’s simply a matter of overspending on a few players or spreading that money out over the whole of the team.

      • CTAZPA

        Tumtum-

        Bah! Reread my post. I love Jeffrey Lurie as an owner. I laughed at Real-WIP callers for a decade when they wanted to spend, spend, spend. I believed in the dream team and thought we had cleverly taken advantage of the market.

        I agree with your second paragraph in general, though I’ve heard Roseman express concern about the number of expiring contracts and the need to lock up our current stars. You’d have to say Brian Orakpo, for example, fits our needs as a pass rushing LB, but I don’t expect to see him in green because of cost. I do think we’ll smartly use free agency this year to plug holes, especially in the secondary and as defensive competition/depth.

        Maybe you haven’t heard the recent Lurie and Roseman interviews. Look for the difference in my post between bashing and observation.

      • BreakinAnklez

        I assume you mean this past year…Williams got 3 yr, $17m which isn’t breaking the bank by any means…nor is 6 yr, 36M they shelled for Barwin. Only $8M guaranteed..

  • DanJ3645

    2 things that standout to me from the superbowl:
    1) Denver’s O line didn’t give their receivers enough time to get separation.
    Its critical that the Eagles bring in youth to develop behind Peters and Herremanns.
    2) Seahawks corners are big and can press, taking away the quick throws. The pass rush then gets home before the deep routes are open.
    Sounds a lot like the Eagles general plan for their D. Manning didn’t have time to pick the secondary apart, even though there weren’t many sacks.

    • Sean

      Yeah, that’s the dream for the defense. Unfortunately, they’re missing the pass rush part of the equation almost entirely, and it’s debatable whether they have the necessary corners.

      • DanJ3645

        Yes, OLB, at least 1 S and a top CB.
        But at least there is a level of evidence that the direction the D is headed can be successful in the current NFL

        • Tumtum

          Feltcher showed some promise. Cary Williams did what was expected of him. Both of those guys are adequate stop gaps, but I don’t know that you want to think of either one starting much beyond 2014. I think that is what the F.O had in mind when they brought them here last off season, and don’t expect that to change much.

          I banged the drum for Williams, and am quite please with the result. He might of even exceeded expectation. He is serving a purpose and is proven to be capable of playing on a Superbowl winning defense, but he is really just a guy.

    • CTAZPA

      Good points. I’ll add that Manning set a SB record for completions. It wasn’t a lack of catches, the YAC was negligible.

      • ICDogg

        But that isn’t on the receivers, that’s because Manning was hitting guys who had nowhere to go.

        • CTAZPA

          Manning’s fault? WR fault? The Seattle defense closed quickly and crushed the WR soon after the catch. That’s a good model.

          • P_P_K

            Truth.

          • Anders

            It is Davis’ model too, we just didnt have the speed, pass rush or tackling like the Seahawks (yet we was still 2nd in takeaways after Seattle)

        • DanJ3645

          I’d blame the O line as they didn’t give Manning the time to let routes develop.

          I’d also put some blame on the receivers – there were at least 3 times when Broncos went backwards looking for a space to turn the corner, rather than physically fighting for the extra yard. This just gave the defence more time to close in numbers.

        • Tumtum

          I think reasonable minds can agree it was a team loss. Can’t pin that on one guy.

    • Mike Roman

      I wonder if we’ll see more press from Williams and Fletcher if we can upgrade the safety position(s). Both guys can be physical but I felt like the played off coverage quite a bit last year. I’m sure part of that is Billy Davis not wanting to give up the big play. But when you look at Seattle, they’re soooooo good at safety that their CBs can afford to play up on the receivers to take away those quick throws and not worry (as much) about getting beat deep.

      • Anders

        Williams is not a press guy, Fletcher can do it very nicely.

    • Maggie

      There was one other thing that stood out for me. The number of half-hearted arm tackles that missed, by the Denver defense. It wasn’t just their offense that stunk.

  • Mac

    The fall of Rome didn’t happen in a day either.

    I can’t help but think of the parallel between the hiring of Visigoths to defend the northern border and hiring Nnamdi and DRC to defend the endzone as classic miscalculations.

    • Ben Hert

      And Washburn playing the part of Alaric.

    • Maggie

      Upvote for Visigoths!

  • BobSmith77

    If this defense doesn’t upgrade at least at 2-3 positions, they’ll be very hard-pressed to improve on their record next year.

    Broncos did whatever they wanted vs this defense and moved the ball at will against them. Could have dropped 60 pts on this defense.

    It is a defense that lacks playmakers at every position except Boykins (Kendricks is too inconsistent), has way too little speed especially on the edge, and lacks consistent tackling in the secondary.

    Obvious they have to upgrade at S and LB. Tougher questions this offseason is do they think Logan is the long-term answer at NT including next year & if they should try to upgrade from either Ryans or Cole (unlikely they can do both) via draft or FA.

  • BobSmith77

    As much as everybody wants the Eagles to upgrade on the defensive side, I wouldn’t mind seeing them take a few high picks on the offensive side.

    Every team will likely have ‘defense on the brain’ after this SB. Eagles’ offense was quite productive this year but it was a group that struggled at times when they went to a 3 WR set & 3 of the last 4 games got beat badly upfront on the OL in the run/passing game.

    Their OL is an older group despite Kelce and Johnson. Peters and Mathis will be 33 and Herremans will be 32. Herremans is a guy who really struggled at times last year. Been a good soldier but the Eagles really could use an upgrade there too. Peters was a great story this too but his contract status makes him a real question mark beyond next year too.

    It would be incredibly unpopular to take a T really high in the draft (1st or 2nd) but I wouldn’t mind in the least. Ditto a physical WR who has some size they really like too.

    • Tumtum

      BPA is BPA. If there is a first year starter T sitting there at 22 I don’t see how they could turn it down.

      • anon

        Hard to think a tackle would be the best player left in the draft at 22

        • Maggie

          It’s possible, with almost every team in the league looking for the savior Safety. Or quarterback.

        • D3FB

          Weird things happen. This time last year Shariff Floyd was considered at lock for the top 5. Matthews and Robinson will both be gone but Lewan could fall if a team prefers Kouandjio.

        • Anders

          There is 4 tackles in this draft there is at least as good as Eric Fisher and in most mock drafts at least 1 falls to around the Eagles pick

    • anon

      The best we could be is the broncos and they just got dominated.

      • D3Center

        How do you figure? We are a younger team with a better o-line, which was the real problem for Denver besides their defense failing to show up. And our defense has a much better young core than the Broncos

      • Anders

        and 99% of the time we wouldnt face a top defense of all time

    • kajomo

      I havent seen anyone mention it, but I am really interested in Roger Saffold. He played guard this year, but still offers the versatility to kick outside like Herremans did. He could possibly be our future RT. He is a good run blocker, but also an upgrade in pass pro over TH.

      The best part for me is that we get younger without hurting our cap much. We would save money by cutting TH this year and get his contract off the books? Saffold would simply be replacing TH’s salary until 2016.

    • Mac

      I am 100% on board using picks on the O-line. If a top notch OT is there when we pick at 22 I’d be psyched about that.

  • Vick or Nick

    While I agree the game didn’t prove Manning isn’t a big game quarterback…but come on.

    You will be hard pressed to find a guy who will say he wants Peyton in a win or go home game (over the other top QBs).

    Process of elimination, He isn’t.

    Peyton Manning is the Greatest Regular Season QB in the History of the NFL.

  • Vick or Nick

    Do the Seahawks D have good players? Yes. But thats not what makes them so great.

    Having great players doesn’t mean jack. See Eagles 2011,2012.

    Great defense stems from GREAT COMMUNICATION. Each player understands their responsibilities and executes. They know where they need to be BUT ALSO where the REST of their teammates WILL be.

    It was exciting to see the LB’s drops in zone coverage be in sync with the DBs. They didn’t drop too high or too low. Just right to prevent open windows for Manning.

    To make Manning look like that you can’t just have good pressure or good coverage, you need both. And both they had.

  • Vick or Nick

    Seattle also did an amazing job against the run in their Nickel package. Might be the most underrated aspect of their performance. Manning continually tried to run the ball when Seattle played 2 deep safety, but there was just no room, no lanes.

  • Vick or Nick

    Final note: Game always comes down to line of scrimmage.

    SEA won that in a big way. Granted SEA offense was never in a must score mode, so there wasn’t a whole lot pressure on their lineman. SEA O-line still moved the Broncos D-line off the ball and created running lanes.

    Broncos O-line got exposed. They could not block SEA D-line for longer than 3-4 seconds before Manning was rushed.

    • anon

      thats what im saying about our line, they rarely blitzed that game but still got to the QB all the time. That means they were able to put everyone in coverage. Makes it hard to do things as an offense.

  • ACViking

    Re: A Dom Capers’ Draft Question / And a “Tree” Answer Also

    A question was asked by commenter Ben Hert, in a string about Pete Carroll’s input in the draft, about productive draft picks during Dom Capers’ 8 seasons has a head coach in Carolina and Houston.

    The list is short, actually.

    During the Carolina Panthers’ inaugural 4 seasons coached by Capers, he had GM Bill Polian for 3 of them. Regardless, the most memorable draft picks during that era were QB Kerry Collins (Carolina’s 1st ever selection), WR Mushin Muhammad, Safety Mike Minter, and arguably RB Tim Biakabituka.

    A notoriously bad Panther pick during the Capers/Polian era — at every level — was WR Rae Carruth in ’97.
    __________________

    During Capers’ 4 seasons as Carolina’s head coach, the players selected during his tenure delivered — during their careers — a total 3 Pro Bowls.

    In 2002, Capers because the Houston Texans’ 1st-ever HC, working with former Redskins GM Charley Casserly. Again, the list of remembered draft picks during the 4-year Capers/Casserly era is pretty short: QB David Carr (1st-ever selection, as Carolina did with Kerry Collins, over UNC DE Julius Peppers); journeyman WR Jabar Gaffney; DB Daunta Robinson — remembered in these parts for concussing both D-Jax and J-Mac — along with the unforgettable DE Jason Babin. Collectively, those 4 players delivered ZERO Pro Bowls as Texans and 2 total, which belonged to Babin while a Wide-9 DE for the Titans and Eagles in ’10-’11.

    Capers’ Texans selections also included one other draft choice who was a grand slam: WR Andre Johnson. Multiple Pro Bowler and All Pro.
    ________________

    Notably, the Dom Capers’ “Coaching Tree” — from his Houston days — includes a both of the 49ers coordinators.

    Vic Fangio was Capers’ DC. Greg Roman broke into the NFL as a QC assistant under Capers.

    Fangio’s reputation has been solidified with the 49ers — and all that talent. Amazing what talent can do for a sound scheme.

    Roman’s an up-and-comer — again, not hurt at all by the talent in SF. Or by the fact that Jim Harbaugh’s his boss.

    • Anders

      btw when I talked about Capers, I talked about him as a DC, not as HC.
      also Dom Capers “coaching tree”, includes our own Bill Davis.

  • Michael Winter Cho

    According to Football Outsiders and their DVOA statistic, the Broncos had the best offense of all time this season. Seattle had one of the best defenses of all time. So why did Seattle thoroughly dominate the game in every phase? Because defense wins championships, and so we should try to imitate Seattle and start drafting cornerbacks? Or maybe… Seattle was a great team and had a real good night against another really good team, a team that happened to have a really bad night.

    • phillychuck

      Devnver did a whole lot to beat themselves; silly safety, first interception, stupid downfield fumble. And Seattle played well, but a huge factor in the win was the officials “letting the guys play” in the defensive backfield. Seattle’s corners held receivers on every single play where they showed a replay, and lots of those penalties are called in the regular season. Even before the game the refs sort of let everyone know that they’d let “how the players were playing” determine how they called the game. Funny to play all season and then have the rules chance in the SB…

      • Michael Winter Cho

        Man, I know what you mean! Gives me flashbacks to whathisname grabbing Pinkston and taking his candy in that horrible NFC Championship game…

    • Anders

      Because Denver didnt have one of the best offenses off all time according to DVOA.
      Also a lot of the Denver’s high DVOA came in the start of the season, but they really wasnt that great during the play offs.
      Also what about the Packers, Ravens, Saints, Colts and Giants Super Bowl wins that was won with less than good defenses?

      • Michael Winter Cho

        I misrembered Barnwell’s article. Denver’s O scored 3.3 standard deviations better than the mean (in points), the _best_ mark in NFL history, ahead of the other great and famous offensive seasons such as the Rams, the Niners and the Patriots. According to DVOA, they were “only” the 6th best O in the last 25 years.
        My point was to caution against ill-considered bandwagoning. Our team’s transcendental talent is all on O, Chip’s strength is O. D must be improved, but mindlessly trying to ape Seattle is not going to work for us during this coaching regime.

  • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

    i HATE the whole “hey look they won the super bowl doing ____ we need to do/get ______” Set the template dont be a follower.

  • NinjaP

    I actually don’t think the seahawks match up that well with us. I suspect we beat them in philly next season.