As I’ve mentioned quite a few times, I love Bill Davis press conferences. He is always interesting and informative, even if he’s not groundbreaking. He met with the media today. There wasn’t much that was newsworthy, but he did have a few interesting thoughts.
Davis talked about preseason football and what goes on. He explained that coaches keep things pretty simple (or vanilla) for a specific reason. They want to evaluate players. If the Eagles call a brilliant blitz, the coaches will know their play design worked and that the players can execute it, but what they won’t know is if the players on the field can pressure the QB on skill alone. This is the time to find out as much as you can about who can play and who can’t. That means a lot of base defense and simple calls.
Davis also explained that mistakes have value. If the coaches see a young player make a mistake, they can then evaluate how the young player handles the situation. Does he repeat the mistake? Does he let it affect his play afterward? Does he have the mental toughness to stay focused? Davis mentioned Jaylen Watkins giving up the long TD and then coming back to make the impressive pick. That showed maturity and toughness on the part of Watkins.
Someone asked Davis about giving the backups a chance to show what they could do against starters. He responded that this would happen on Tuesday and Wednesday in the joint practices with the Patriots more than in the upcoming game. While it would be interesting to see Marcus Smith, Beau Allen and Brandon Bair go against starters from other teams, Davis has to make sure he gets enough reps and the right kind of reps to his projected starters. We won’t get to see the practices so we’ll have to rely on media reports to get a feel for how the young Eagles look when going against top competition.
I didn’t mention Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry in regard to that situation. They are technically backups, but each player has enough game tape out there that the coaches know what they can do.
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Speaking of the defense…here is a great post by the guys at Chip Wagon. They explain some rush concepts in the 3-4 defense and then show examples from last year, as well as Friday night.
One of the focal points of the post is the play of Fletcher Cox. As much as the Eagles could use a dynamic OLB, Cox could become a highly disruptive force. That would ease the pressure on the LBs and set the tone for the defense. Cox didn’t become an impact rusher last year, ala JJ Watt, but Eagles coaches did have Cox down for 21 QB pressures, which led the team. Can he get better than that? The coaches certainly see him as someone on the rise.
Several of you have asked about Cox and whether he is a disappointing player. He looked very good as a rookie when he was allowed to attack up the field on every play. The scheme changed last year and that affected Cox in a major way. We need to see how he plays this season to have any kind of a real feel for whether he can truly be a player the Eagles should build around.
I love his size and athletic ability. I think you keep working with him as long as you can. Cox has tremendous potential. You don’t see it every down, but that’s okay. Sometimes young linemen take a while to get into a groove. One thing that will help Cox is being in the same scheme two years in a row. If his mind and his body ever get on the same page, Cox will be a regularly disruptive force.