Cole dropped 22 percent of the time, which is right near the average for 3-4 linebackers that played a significant number of the snaps last season. Graham was at 21 percent. Barwin, meanwhile, dropped into coverage 42 percent, according to Pro Football Focus — one of the highest rates in the league.
That made the Eagles somewhat predictable.
Ideally, Bill Davis and Chip Kelly would like to have a situation where the offense doesn’t know which OLB is going to rush and which one is going to drop into coverage. In a true fantasy world, you would have both ILBs and OLBs so good at rushing and covering that you could really mix and match them and be extremely creative, while also balanced.
For now, the Eagles would just like to be more balanced. The goal is to keep QBs from making easy pre-snap reads. The 3-4 defense is based on moving parts doing different things. You don’t want defined roles for the players play after play.
Now that Cole and Graham have a year at outside linebacker under their belt, will Barwin be freed up to attack the passer more this season?
“Absolutely,” said OLB coach Bill McGovern. “I think that’s where you hope to see the whole thing start to come a little bit more together…I could put Connor over at Predator, I think I could put BG and Trent over at Jack and they would know what to do. We gave them names, but really it’s a left outside linebacker and a right outside linebacker. That’s what they really are and they can switch it up. Now, when they can start doing the same things all the time and you can bring either one, I think that’s where the whole defense comes together.”
While the Eagles would like to mix things up, they don’t want to do too much of that. Barwin covers the best of the OLBs. Cole is the best pass rusher. Confusing the offense is important, but not at the risk of having players do things they aren’t very good at. Barwin lacks the explosive first step to be a top pass rusher. Cole lacks the instincts to be at his best playing in space.
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Jimmy and I want to do new shows. Scheduling them is tricky because of changes in both our routines. I started a new job back in February and that has really affected me.
The new schedule also has me behind on answering emails. I’m working through them to try and catch up with you guys. My apologies for being so far behind with so many people.
I promise to catch up and I promise that Jimmy and I will do some new shows.