More on the Defense

Posted: January 25th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 431 Comments »

I rushed through the Jim Schwartz video post because I wanted you to be able to watch those videos without having to also deal with a bunch of my comments. Now that you’ve hopefully seen them, let’s talk about Schwartz and what he has to say.

First, that talk should give you a feel for just how much thought and work went into developing the Wide-9 front and package. It takes a lot of knowledge to come up with something like that and then to teach it the right way.

I love the fact that Schwartz developed that package to deal with a division rival. That’s the NFL way. When you have to play someone twice a year and they are the best team in your division, you should make plans for them. The first step in trying to make the playoffs is winning your division. That’s a tangible goal that you control.

Schwartz knew how to scheme around the weaknesses of his personnel. He also knew how to scheme to take advantage of his personnel. In that case, it was dealing with teams that ran away from Albert Haynesworth. By taking away outside runs, Haynesworth could make plays from the backside or clog the middle.

Schwartz told the Philly media that he wasn’t married to the Wide-9. He did a lot with under fronts in Buffalo. He mixed things up in Detroit. The Wide-9 was part of those defenses, but it wasn’t everything. Schwartz is smart enough to know you have to adjust to your personnel, but also to what your opponents do as well. Just running something because that’s what you want…not so wise.

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Will the Eagles run the 4-3?

I think so. Notice that they only hired one LBs coach. With the 3-4 you generally have 2 LBs coaches or one coach and one assistant. KC had Gary Gibbs as LBs coach and a young guy as assistant LBs coach. 3-4 teams generally carry 8 to 10 guys and they do multiple things. That usually requires multiple coaches.

I don’t know why the Eagles are so hesitant to talk scheme. Coaches can be weird and overly protective at times.

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Assuming the Eagles do go to a 4-3, there are a lot of tweeners.

Connor Barwin said he thinks he’ll move to DE. He could play SAM if they wanted him there.

Marcus Smith could drop to 250 and play SAM or stay in the 260 range and play DE. Playing DE in a 1-gap scheme simplifies a lot. You attack. Playing LB meant setting the edge or rushing or dropping into coverage. I hope the new staff has more success with Smith. He is talented. The fact he has shown so little in 2 years means I won’t be holding my breath.

Does Travis Long fit the 4-3? Could be DE or SAM. Better fit for the 3-4.

Taylor Hart might be able to play the 3-tech spot. Or they may like his length at LDE. Schwartz has had some big DEs in the past. Hart may be another guy that is better for the 3-4 and gets dealt.

Is Najee Goode a MLB or WLB?

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When Andy Reid came here from Green Bay, he brought his QB with him. Other Packers players followed. Will Doug Pederson want to bring some Chiefs to Philly?

The KC Star took a look at pending Chiefs free agents. Two players jumped out at me.

G Jeff Allen: Allen, 26, brought experience and nastiness to the offensive line. It’s not a coincidence the Chiefs went 11-1 once he returned to the starting lineup after a preseason knee injury. The Chiefs’ regime has shown a tendency to let offensive linemen walk — guards Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz both left via free-agency in 2014 — but Corry isn’t sure history will repeat itself. “I don’t think they can afford to make the same mistake they did a couple of years ago when they let both guards leave,” said Corry, who could see Allen commanding a multiyear deal worth $4 million per year.

QB Chase Daniel: Daniel, 29, wants to be a starter in this league. Corry could see him gunning for a one-year deal worth a little more than $4 million a year.

If the Eagles want a veteran to plug in at LG, Allen would make sense. He’s in the prime of his career, won’t cost a fortune and knows Pederson.

I’m sure Daniel wants a chance to start. The Eagles could give him that chance, if Sam Bradford ends up elsewhere. Daniel would be a band-aid type of starter. Someone to keep the seat warm until a young QB is ready to take over.

The biggest name is Eric Berry, but I can’t see them letting him go.

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I wrote about Doug Pederson and the coaching staff he’s put together for PE.com. I explained why the hires make sense and how they fit together. Compelling reading for the whole family.

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I Love Jim Schwartz

Posted: January 24th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 416 Comments »

Instead of my yapping, let’s all go get smarter by listening to Professor Jim Schwartz.

2 great videos on the Wide-9 and his thoughts on defense

Great stuff.

I’ll discuss some of it later. Just go watch them for now.

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I posted some draft notes from the Shrine Game over at ScoutsNotebook.

It is very possible I wrote about a guy named Vern(on).

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Draft Talk Begins

Posted: January 23rd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 239 Comments »

We know the coaching staff. That means it is time to turn our attention to the team.

We don’t exactly know what the team needs are for now since we haven’t seen the Eagles make cuts and free agent moves. I think it would be fair to say that QB, OL and WR are key areas. And with the Eagles moving to the 4-3, there will be a need for DL depth.

All star games are getting underway today. The Shrine Game is at 4pm on the NFL Network. I wrote about the Shrine Game and some interesting players here. That was a generic piece and not Eagles-centric.

The NFLPA Game is on ESPN2 at 6pm. Here are the rosters for that.

The Shrine Game is a mixture of a few mid-rounders, some late rounders and plenty of UDFAs. The NFLPA game is a few late rounders, mostly UDFAs and some guys who will be playing the final football game of their lives. To put things in Eagles terms, Earl Wolff was at the Shrine Game and Matt Tobin was at the NFLPA game.

As much as you want to focus on positions, in games like these, focus on the best players.

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The Senior Bowl practices start on Tuesday. That’s the big game and the one where you can look for talent and positions. I’ll be heading down on Monday.  I will write about some players to watch in the next day or two. ESPN will televise the practices and the NFL Network will have nightly practice recaps.

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I posted some random draft notes the other day. I can’t recall if I linked to them so here they are.

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One thing I am excited about is now finding 1-gap defenders for the Eagles.

Penn State star Carl Nassib could be an excellent fit at DE in Schwartz’s 4-3. He loves high-motor guys with great length. That’s Nassib.

Someone like DT Sheldon Day of Notre Dame (6-2, 285) could make sense. He would have been a tweener for the 3-4, too light for NT, too short for DE. Now, Day could be an excellent fit for a DL that needs some depth.

In recent years, there just weren’t as many DL who fit what the Eagles wanted to do. Now that is completely different. Every guy who can shoot a gap and blow up a play in the backfield becomes a potential target.

That excites me.

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All kinds of oddball rumors going around Twitter today. Be careful who you trust at this time of the year. And make sure you aren’t getting fooled by a fake Twitter account.

The best piece of advice…if the news doesn’t pass the smell test, it probably isn’t true.

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Free Agency Talk

Posted: January 22nd, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 261 Comments »

As we head into the offseason, we’ll talk a lot more about the coaching staff and their new ideas. We also have the draft to discuss at great length. There is also free agency, which is today’s topic.

Eliot Shorr-Parks is reporting that the Eagles are focused on working out contract extensions for OT Lane Johnson, TE Zach Ertz and DL Vinny Curry. This seems pretty obvious, but it is good to hear

Johnson has started at RT for 3 years. He is a good player that we keep hoping will take that next step and become a great player. He does have great moments. There will be some plays where he gets excellent movement and creates a big area for the RB to hit.

Ertz is similar to Johnson. He is a good player, but still needs to take that next step to be great. Ertz has flashes where he looks like he could be a special player. He was incredibly productive in the last 4 games in 2015.

vs BUF – 5-98
vs ARZ – 8-78-1
vs WAS – 13-122
at NYG – 9-152

Without even doing the research, I’m willing to bet eleventy billion dollars that L.J. Smith never had a 4-game stretch anything like that.

Vinny Curry is the most interesting name. He wasn’t in the top 15 tacklers on defense. He only had 3.5 sacks and 4.5 TFLs. But he had 21 hurries, which ranked him second only to Fletcher Cox. The one stat that isn’t kept is disruption. Curry is a very disruptive player. He explodes off the ball and can occupy blockers, which frees up another rusher. He draws holding calls. His penetration can force the QB to throw early or move in the pocket, possibly closer to another rusher.

Curry was a backup DL and valuable role player for Bill Davis. He could become a key starter for Jim Schwartz. Whether the Eagles are in the 4-3 or a 1-gap 3-4 system, Curry is a guy you can play a lot. Let him attack gaps and he is going to be very disruptive. He is not meant to play in a 2-gap system, which asks DL to strike, read, find the ball and then attack. That single second where he’s looking for the ball neutralizes his burst, which is what makes him special.

All 3 of these players are homegrown and are the kind of guys you want to make part of the long term core of your team.

It is also interesting to note that the Eagles retained the position coaches for Ertz and Johnson. I think one of the reasons they did that is because Jeff Stoutland and Justin Peelle did such a good job with their young pupils. Developing young talent is crucial to winning in the NFL.

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Jimmy Bama wrote a piece on 5 free agents who fit the Eagles. The names all make sense.

His piece got me to thinking about whether the Eagles should go after big free agents this offseason. You could bring in a couple of key FAs to help plug holes. Or you could focus on just adding second tier players. The thought would be to let this become Doug Pederson’s team by letting him build it up.

The question really becomes how Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman and Pederson view the 2016 season. Are they trying to win as many games as possible or are they trying to build for the future.

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to that question. Really the key is how they execute the plan they decide to go with. Can they find the right guys to make that plan work?

The best team isn’t the biggest names. Sometimes it isn’t even the most talented players. You need the right set of players for the schemes being used. Chemistry and fit are crucial. The last thing you want to do is pay someone big money and have them end up eating lunch in their car. Right?

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The Eagles hired John DeFilippo to be the QBs coach. This seems like a very good move. He was the offensive coordinator in Cleveland in 2015 and previously was the QBs coach for the Raiders. He got rookie Derek Carr to play well in Oakland. I’m blown away by the fact he got Matt McGloin to perform effectively for the Raiders prior to that.

DeFilippo did coach Mark Sanchez back in 2009. It will be interesting to see if Sanchez sticks around or the Eagles cut him. I hope they let him go. There was no growth from 2014 to 2015.

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There are reports that Rory Segrest is going to be the DL coach. He held that role with the Eagles back in 2009 and 2010, before being fired. He went back to being a college coach and worked at Samford from 2011-2013. The past couple of years he was at Arkansas as their DL coach.

I was never a fan of Segrest. I didn’t think he had a strong enough background to be coaching in the NFL. Having him come back to the league after successful stints at a small college and then SEC school makes me feel better about him.

When Segrest was here before, he was teaching the DTs how to 2-gap on base plays and then having the DL attack from Nickel and Dime looks. This time around he would be teaching 1-gap principles the whole way through. That makes me more comfortable as well. It also helps that he would be working under Jim Schwartz, who has a strong history with successful DL.

If Segrest is the guy, I can live with it. Who knows…maybe he’ll prove to be a better coach this time around. I certainly hope that’s the case.

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Staff Almost Set

Posted: January 20th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 462 Comments »

Doug Pederson announced Jim Schwartz as his DC on Tuesday. Today the Eagles announced most of the rest of the staff.

If you want bios on the staff, here are the PE.com notes.

I’ll offer my thoughts on the different groups. First up, the offense. Frank Reich is a solid choice to be the OC. Reich has played in and worked in multiple offenses. He has a lot of experience with QBs who audible. That sounds like it will be a key element for Pederson and the Eagles offense.

Reich is probably also a good fit in the sense that he’s not new to the NFL, but also isn’t so old that he’s very set in his ways. He will work with Pederson to do whatever works with the Eagles personnel. I think bringing back Stoutland, Peelle and Staley is smart. Stoutland developed Lane Johnson into a good RT. He did good things with Andrew Gardner prior to the injury last year. Even Dennis Kelly showed some flashes. Peelle had Zach Ertz playing at a high level last year. Staley is a coach the Eagles are very high on. They just didn’t think he was quite ready to make the leap to being a head coach.

Greg Lewis is an interesting choice to coach the WRs. He was a backup in college and carved out a role for himself in the NFL. Lewis is the kind of overachiever that often makes a good coach. He coached in college and just started working in the NFL this year. That might be an issue, but his 8-season playing career wipes out the need to grind away for years. He could turn out to be an excellent coach.

There were reports that John DeFilippo would  become the Eagles QB coach. He was the Browns OC this year. He has coached in college and the NFL and has a pretty good reputation.

I like the defensive staff quite a bit. I love Schwartz as the DC. He runs an attacking defense and is a veteran coach who can run the defense all on his own. Ken Flajole is a good LBs coach. He has been a DC in the league before. Tim Hauck played in the NFL for more than a decade and has coached in both college and the NFL. I think it was smart to bring back Undlin. Eric Rowe played pretty well this year. Ed Reynolds and Jaylen Watkins showed promise.

There is no DL coach yet.

I like the staff because it is an interesting mixture of coaches. You have someone like Phillip Daniels who is trying to start his coaching career working alongside veterans like Schwartz and Flajole. You have Eugene Chung as an up and coming coach learning from Stoutland. Chung worked in Philly under Howard Mudd and one of these days will be an OL coach himself.

These coaches have some familiarity with the players. Chung coached Kelce, Peters and Kelly when he was here before. Schwartz coached Ced Thornton and Brandon Graham in the Senior Bowl. Flajole coached Malcolm Jenkins for a season in New Orleans.

The biggest thing that sticks out to me is how many of these coaches are former NFL players.

Daniels – 15 years
Pederson – 14 years
Reich – 14 years
Hauck – 13 years
Staley – 10 years
Peelle – 10 years
Lewis – 8 years
Chung – 5 years

Compare that with Kelly’s staff. You had Duce and Peelle, That’s it. I’m not saying one is right and one is wrong. I just think it is interesting to see such a stark difference in the 2 groups.

Pederson might be new to being a head coach, but his staff has a ton of experience as players and/or coaches. These guys know the NFL.

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Did you watch Dave Spadaro’s interview with Schwartz? Good stuff. This got me excited.

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The Eagles officially released Bill Davis today. I think he is an good guy and has ability as a coach. He’s had some really tough circumstances in his NFL career. In SF, he helped head coach Mike Nolan rebuild the defense. They were awful, but Nolan really ran the defense. Davis had limited power.

He then ran the Cardinals defense in 2009 and 2010. They stuck with the scheme that Clancy Pendergast had put in place.

Davis came to Philly and finally got 3 years to run a defense. The problem is that he was running the scheme that Chip Kelly wanted (3-4, 2-gap). He also had to deal with the up-tempo attack and the effects that had on his defense.

Davis is not nearly as bad as some of his detractors would make him out to be. That said, his results aren’t good.

I have to imagine Davis will lay in bed thinking about 3 things from this year. His defense was ranked pretty high before a few things happened. First, Jordan Hicks got hurt. That had a huge impact on the defense. Sam Bradford got hurt. The worst games came with Sanchez at QB. When the offense struggled, the defense had no chance. Finally, Davis made the decision to move Malcolm Jenkins out of the slot in the TB/DET games. If those 3 things were different, who knows what kind of season this defense might have had.

I’ll always be grateful to Davis for giving me the 2014 shutout of the Giants.

27-0

Heaven.

Good luck, Bill. I hope things turn out better in your next stop.

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