I bring this up because I read earlier today about some changes the Packers could be making. Apparently they will be active in free agency for the first time in years. One of the things they are considering is letting DL/DT B.J. Raji walk and adding guys that are more versatile and athletic. Dom Capers has never needed huge DL. In fact he had some good defenses with the Panthers when 265-pound Greg Kragen was his NT. That was the late 1990s, but most offensive linemen were more than 300 pounds at that time. Kragen was a shrimp, but he got the job done.
Capers has used DEs of all kinds of sizes. Raji played a lot of DE for the Packers, with Ryan Pickett at the nose. Raji is 340 or so while Pickett is about 315. As long as the NT can anchor and eat blocks, there isn’t a need for him to be huge.
I’m bringing this up since Eagles DC Bill Davis is a protege of Capers. Davis learned from him in Pittsburgh (1992-94) and then worked for him with the Panthers (1995-98). That’s 7 years of influence on how to run a 3-4 defense. You wonder if Capers had an impact on Davis in terms of what kind of DL to target.
When Davis was in Arizona, he had Bryan Robinson (6-4, 305) at NT and athletic guys like Darnell Dockett and Calais Campbell as the DEs. There was nobody that was massive. Campbell has great length, but not bulk. They did spend a 1st round pick on DL Dan Williams (6-2, 330) in 2010. What we don’t know is if Davis pushed for him or Williams was more of a target of Ken Whisenhunt or the GM.
As the Eagles head into the offseason, the team could be similar to the Packers and focus on athletic, versatile DL rather than bulky guys. Davis still wants to 2-gap so he will need players who can engage blockers and shed them, but you don’t have to be 330 pounds to get that done. Something to consider as we look at potential free agent and draft targets.
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There has been a lot of talk about the Eagles approach to free agency. Geoff Mosher wrote about how Howie Roseman is going to be careful. Here’s a good quote from Roseman.
“The guys that you’ve drafted, they look around and they say, ‘Well, this guy they brought from somewhere else, and they’re paying him maybe more than he’s worth.’ So you have to be very careful in free agency, and I think what worked last year was based on the free-agent market. You’ve got to really make sure you’re in line with what the free agent market is and not try to force anything.”
I think the Eagles are trying to keep fans from getting their hopes built up for lots of huge moves. Roseman is trying to preach mid-level moves and building through the draft. Keep expectations low and then let fans get excited if a big move does happen. Roseman admitted that the team could make a big move if the situation is right.
“I’d say if there was a player who was kind of in the right age group as a free agent, played an important position who we thought could be around for a long time, we would certainly be open to [a lucrative, long-term deal],” Roseman said.
The Eagles will spend big if they find the right player.
I recently began checking out the free agent lists. One name that I wondered about was DT Linval Joseph. He will turn 26 in October so his best football could still be ahead of him. He’s got a great build at 6-4, 328. He can get to the QB up the middle. He had 3 sacks this year and 4 last year.
Adding Joseph would help the DL in a couple of ways. He could push the pocket better than Logan. That would help when facing top QBs that get the ball out quickly. And Logan could become the #4 DL. He could play DE, DT and NT depending upon what the situation was.
While this sounds great and makes sense, think about Roseman’s quote. If you go break the bank for a guy like Joseph, how will that affect Fletcher Cox and Cedric Thornton, players that will be looking for new deals in a year. You do have to be careful about spending big because you’re being naive if you don’t think it will have an impact on current players. The other factor to consider is that Joseph is a 4-3 DT and you’d be moving him to NT. Do you break the bank on a player and then move him to a new spot? There is some risk with that.
I still think the Eagles stick with Logan at NT, but going for someone like Joseph would be interesting. It wouldn’t use any draft picks, just money. The Eagles have cap space and money to spend if they want to. And it would be cool to steal a division rival’s young, talented player. I doubt it happens, but the scenario is certainly an interesting idea.