I’ve focused mainly on the front seven as we’ve discussed Bill Davis and the defense in the last week. A few of you have pointed out that the secondary was the bigger problem in 2013. Why not focus on that?
I’d love to talk about the secondary more, but that is really complicated, for a few reasons. First, I don’t know what’s going on with the Eagles personnel wise. DRC is a free agent. We might keep him on a short deal, we might let him go. Nnamdi Asomugha is likely to be cut, due to a high cap figure and simply not playing well.
Safety is just as confusing. Nate Allen has the most talent, but was benched last year. Being benched for Colt Anderson isn’t good. We all love Colt as a STer, but he’s got limited cover skills and isn’t a great tackler in space. He’s effective when flying downhill and attacking a runner or receiver. Kurt Coleman has all the intangibles you want, but is undersized and lacks top athleticism. I still have some hope for Allen, but I don’t say that with a great deal of confidence. The others are clearly backups at this point.
As to the Davis side of things. There is no All-22 tape of the Cards from 2009 and 2010. You can re-watch the games at NFL.com, but you’re going off TV feeds. That means doing a lot of guessing in regard to coverage schemes.
I can’t say much about the Eagles personnel with any certainty. I can’t say much about Davis coverages with any certainty.
In the games I watched, the Cards did seem to like man coverage with a single high Safety. I watched parts of 3 games so this is very much a casual observation and not something to take to the bank.
I do think Davis likes big DBs. Some guys were already in place in ARZ, but the smallest regular starter he had was CB Bryant McFadden at 5-11, 190.
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Let’s set Davis aside for a minute and talk about what needs to be done in a general sense.
The Eagles are set at Nickel Corner and that’s it. Brandon Boykin will handle that role. As far as I’m concerned, everything else is up in the air.
I think we need a mixture of youth and experience added to the secondary. It would be great to copy the 2002 draft and come away with 2 CBs and a S early on, but that group had time to adjust to the NFL. That isn’t a luxury we currently have. We can’t load up on youth. We need at least a couple of immediate starters.
It is possible to keep DRC. I know he was terrible for about 6 weeks. I sat through the same games as you. His lack of effort was troubling. I’d love to say “to hell with him”, but I just don’t know how wise that is.
DRC has one Pro Bowl season. That was 2009 and he played for Bill Davis. There is some logic to using the franchise tag on DRC. Keep him for 2013. See how he does. If the inconsistency remains, cut him loose. If he plays well, sign him to a carefully structured deal. I don’t trust DRC right now, but I also recognize that he just spent 2 years in less than ideal circumstances.
You could cut Nnamdi and let DRC walk and then go throw big money at a FA. Miami’s Sean Smith is a big CB that has good cover skills. The Dolphins won’t tag him, though, which does raise a couple of flags. He’s inconsistent. They obviously have some other concerns.
It is possible that the Eagles could find a CB from the group already on the roster: Curtis Marsh, Brandon Hughes, Trevard Lindley, Chris Hawkins, and Eddie Whitley. Marsh has been up and down in his limited playing time. You can’t build around him or anyone else on this group, but you can give them a chance to compete in the spring.
Maybe the most thorough approach would be to tag DRC, sign a mid-level FA to start opposite him, and draft a starting caliber CB in one of the first 3 rounds. You could spend pick #4 on a CB, but counting on a rookie CB to start is tricky. There are no guarantees that even an early pick will be ready to start right away.
As for Safety, I would sign a veteran and draft a player in the first 4 or 5 rounds. Nate Allen can compete for the FS job. We need a SS with some size. Get someone who can play in the box. Go find a big guy. Howard Eskin said on PFT Live that LaRon Landry could be an Eagles target. I know Howard is occasionally wrong (69 percent of the time is occasional, right?), but this move would make sense. Landry is a big, physical Safety. I have no idea if this rumor is legit, but the Eagles do need a big guy like Landry.
There are plenty of guys to like in the draft class. We can get whatever kind of Safety Bill Davis wants.
I do like having Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson, and David Sims battling for backup spots. Colt is a great STer. Kurt is pretty good. Sims was okay in 2012.
We’ll talk about specific draft and FA targets in the coming weeks.
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I know some of you are sick about me talking about Davis and the defense, but I’m utterly curious and fascinated by what is going to happen on that side of the ball.
I found a Q&A Davis did with the Cardinals official site while he was there. He gave some interesting answers.
Cards Fan Matt asked: Do you look for different skills in outside linebackers and inside linebackers?
“There is a big difference, especially in a 3-4 defense. The outside linebackers are pass rushers first and they have to be bigger and taller to play the tight ends and tackles. On the inside, it’s a whole different animal. Those guys have to have more coverage and pass drop skills and still be big enough in a 3-4 to take on the guards. It’s a hybrid athlete inside that plays more pass coverage.”
Notice he talks about taller OLBs. You have to wonder what he thinks of Brandon Graham, who is 6-1 and 3/8. Graham is plenty thick and strong, but he’s not tall. Trent is 6-2, which isn’t tall, but is generally considered the cut-off point by some. Phillip Hunt thinks Graham is Wilt Chamberlain. Wonder what Davis thinks of Hunt.
Mike from Chandler asked: Why do you think Chike Okeafor had such a smooth transition to play linebacker when he has played defensive end his entire career?
“Chike, to me, and I’ve told him this before, should’ve been playing his whole career as a 3-4 outside backer because of his body type, his skills and the things he does the best — like rush the passer on the edge. He’s athletic enough to cover. When you’re his size and you go down to play end, you take a beating from those big offensive tackles. That is 16 games of fighting someone who is 50 pounds heavier than you are and it’s hard on the body. It’s a great testament to Chike that he has done so well, but now you move him out one more man and he’s matched up against more tight ends and backs and at his size, now he has the advantage. He’s the bigger of the two. I was real disappointed when he got hurt last year and I think if he stays healthy this year we’ll have a big year out of Chike.”
Interesting comments (underlined passage) about smaller DEs playing in the 4-3 vs the 3-4.