Saturday Links

Posted: May 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , | 6 Comments »

For my PE.com column I covered a few topics of interest, the biggest being Chad Hall (insert comment about irony here).  I’m curious to see if 2010 was as good as it gets for Chad or if he will be better in 2011.  Remember how many questions we had about LeSean McCoy heading into last summer?  He was hardly a unanimous choice to have a great year.  Shady played well in the preseason and gave us hope.  Then he lit things up during the year and made believers of us all.

I’m not saying Chad can make a substantial jump, but he could look like a much better player this year.  Will that be enough to get him a roster spot?  If so, does he get regular playing time?  Hall doesn’t have a lot of upside so he needs to play well this year if he wants to keep his career going.

* * * * *

Here’s a PE.com article with some comments from Juan Castillo about his DTs and Jaiquawn Jarrett.  Castillo says he likes the 4 DTs and thinks Bunkley could be in for a breakout year.  As I said on Friday, it won’t shock me if Bunk has a breakout season.  This scheme should bring out the best in him.  The challenge is for Bunk to embrace the opportunity and play at a high level.


More On The Defense

Posted: May 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , | 12 Comments »
Trevard Lindley prepares to pounce

Trevard Lindley attacks a Dallas Cowboy, who was likely about to harm innocent people due to his violent, criminalistic nature.

 

I decided to re-watch some 2010 tape last night.  I watched parts of both Dallas games as well as the Houston game.  I almost popped in the Vikings game, but then realized that I didn’t want to be on the phone with the Suicide Hotline all night long.

I was focused on the defense as I watched the games.  God, what a frustrating experience.  Sean McDermott might turn out to be a brilliant coach if given a bunch of 30-year old, smart players.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t what he had last year.  So many mistakes, both mental and physical.  Jumping offside. Illegal contact.  Missed tackles.  Losing guys in coverage.  And that was just Ernie Sims and Dimitri Patterson.  (rim shot)

I’ve recently watched a Titans game and I’ll be writing out something comparing the two systems.  That will be a longer post or column.  For now I just want to touch on a few things that caught my eye.

* The idea of Mike Patterson in the new system is growing on me.  He is still quick and does have a good motor.  We’ve just got to get him down to 310 or 315.  I wonder if Mike has the motivation to make that happen.  I loved him coming out of USC because he was so disruptive and such a force behind the LOS.  I would love to see him get in shape and play well in the new system.

* I liked what I saw from Darryl Tapp.  I think he’ll fit the new system well, stylistically.  Very good motor.  Versatile.  Should benefit from having more space to work with. Still lacks the burst to be a force off the edge, but can be a good role player at the least.

* Brodrick Bunkley is the real mystery man.  There were a few plays last night where he just shoved blockers around like I would my 11-year old nephew.  There is no questioning the man’s strength and power.  We need Jim Washburn to get Bunk back into attack mode so we can see what he does when firing upfield.  Bunk’s primary job for 3-years was to eat up blocks.  To borrow a phrase from Animal Mother, “Flush out of your headgear, new guy.”  Bunk should embrace the chance to make plays, but that also means flying off the ball snap after snap and giving maximum effort.  He’s never been lazy in my eyes, but effort is now really important.  I can’t wait to see how he responds.  I won’t be shocked if he thrives or falls on his face.

* Trevard Lindley played a lot in both Dallas games.  I didn’t remember him in the first one, but apparently that was his best game of the year, per my own notes.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw (amazing what you forget in 6 months).

Lindley was good when pressing.  You can just tell that’s what he’s comfortable with.  He was awkward when playing off at first, but got better as the game went along.

I’m not trying to sell you guys that Lindley was awesome and should be the starter.  I still think he’s a year away from being a guy I’d be comfortable with as a starter.  I guess I remember him looking more lost than he did.  Perception vs reality.  That got me to go back and re-read my notes on him from the game:

LINDLEY — Best game of his young career. Made a good tackle on 3rd down early in the game. Ogletree caught a short pass to Trevard’s side. Lindley broke on the ball. He couldn’t get there, but tackled the receiver immediately to force a punt. Failed to tackle Ogletree on 3rd down late in the half. We forced a quick throw with pressure and Trevard was there to make the play and force a punt. He missed the tackle and Dallas moved the chains. Played a 3rd Qtr WR screen perfectly. Went around the blocker with his receiver. Trevard was there to hit the guy when the ball came, but it was a clean drop. I’m sure the receiver could feel Trevard right there. Had good coverage on WR in the late 3rd and Kitna was forced to throw the ball out of bounds. Ran the route as well as Austin and Dallas was forced to punt. Made a quick tackle of WR after short pass in the mid-4th.

He was good in the second Dallas game as well.  Had 6 solo tackles.  Lindley played some throws really well.  He had a TFL on a WR screen that was thrown his way.  He made a really quick break on a short pass and was poised to break it up, but the throw was off target and incomplete on its own.

Juan Castillo talked about the fact that Lindley needs better footwork.  Lindley has good feet.  He just needs to work on technique so that he can cover better and get a quicker break on the ball.  I actually feel encouraged about him after watching the tape.

* Ernie Sims is a mess as a LB, but he is one of the 10 most physical players in the whole league.  I would have the coaches ask him about playing FB.  He would be a punishing blocker.  There was a play in the first Dallas game when Leonard Davis (approx 370 lbs) pulled to the left on a run.  Ernie unloaded on him and knocked Big Len’s helmet off.  If only Ernie had some instincts…

* It killed me to watch Brandon Graham out there.  I wanted to have some scene from a sci-fi movie where I could jump into the game and tell him to go sit out a play and avoid the ACL injury.  Graham would love playing in the Wide-9.  I really hope he’s one of the guys who makes it all the way back.

* * * * *

Over at PE.com they have an interview that Chris McPherson did with Greg Cosell about what to expect from the Eagles defense in 2011.  Definitely go check it out.  There is no direct link.  Go to the site (linked above) and then look to the right side.  It should be the 4th item down the list, “Cosell Analyzes Eagles D”.


Eagles Doing The Safety Dance?

Posted: April 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , | 12 Comments »

For my SB Nation Philly column I wrote about the Eagles and their increased focus on Safety prospects for the upcoming draft.

* * * * *

Someone yesterday asked about which players might struggle with the new line coaches.  Fair question.  Howard Mudd and Jim Washburn drive their players hard.  Not all guys handle this well.  Washburn has a really strong reputation with his players, though.  Albert Haynesworth took years to buy into Washburn’s style of coaching, but once he did, Big Al became the best defensive player in the league.  And very rich.  I think Eagles players will see that and what he did with Babin and Antwan Odom and be motivated.  Washburn made those guys good players and lots of money.  That will play a big part in the way the guys respond to Washburn.  Bunk would be the guy I’m most curious about.  I think he can take someone riding him.  Mickey Andrews ran the FSU defense and was hard on his guys.  I just wonder what will happen if Bunk is a backup and gets limited playing time.  Will he respond to that situation well?  If he’s struggling for reps and Washburn is riding him hard, that could be a situation to watch.

Offense is different.  Winston Justice has his contract.  He’s not exactly known as a guy with a driven personality.  Things were very competitive at USC, but it was also a fun atmosphere.  Mudd is a no-nonsense guy.  We really do need Winston to buy in and respond well to the pushing and prodding.  King Dunlap is another player that wasn’t exactly known as a grinder, in college or the pros.  He lost his starting job as a Senior at Auburn to a Freshman because he wasn’t playing up to his potential.  Dunlap has made a lot of progress since then, but Mudd will be a tough adjustment for him.

Jason Peters had a reputation in Buffalo as a talented, but fickle player.  He was great on Sundays, but didn’t have an ideal work ethic the rest of the time.  I think coming to a better environment has had a positive effect on him, but Mudd will be an adjustment.  Again, Peters has his money.  His only motivation for working hard with Mudd is to hone his craft.  When I say the phrase “hone his craft” Jason is about the 11 millionth person I think of.  This is a situation that bears watching.  The good news is that Jason played lights out down the stretch last year so maybe Mudd won’t be riding him that hard.

As I talked about yesterday, the key is for the coaches to make the players realize they are being hard on them for a reason.  Mudd and Washburn did a good job of this in their previous stops so I expect that to mostly be the case here.

* * * * *

I was looking over the roster the other day while confirming some info.  Two names that jumped out at me as guys I’d forgotten about – Reggie Wells and Jorrick Calvin.  I don’t know what to make of their futures.

Calvin showed some potential as a RS, but he didn’t make the kind of impact that makes him a lock for that role in 2011.  I was disappointed that he didn’t get better as the season went along.  As a CB, we still don’t know much about him.

Wells was a solid veteran for the Cardinals, but struggled as an Eagle.  Reggie needs a strong training camp to have a shot at a roster spot.  Maybe he meshes well with Mudd and plays much better.  I don’t see that as likely.  I think his best days are behind him, but the Eagles will give him a chance to show what he can do.


Is There Hope For Brodrick Bunkley?

Posted: April 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , | 14 Comments »
Bunk and the Eagles defense prepare to let Jahvid Best run wild.

Bunk and the Eagles defense prepare to let Jahvid Best run wild.

 

I was on the phone with a friend the other day and we started talking about Brodrick Bunkley.  In some ways, he is the key player for the DTs.  Based on 2010 it is easy to forget where he came from.

Bunkley was the 14th overall pick in the 2006 draft.  He was a terrific prospect.  Very few people expected him to last to pick 14.  Many thought the Bills might take him at #8.  Instead, they went for S Donte Whitner.  Bunkley had okay size, but was incredibly strong.  He ran well and was athletic.  His Senior season at FSU was impressive.  He had 25 TFLs (might have led the nation).  Bunk didn’t pile up these numbers against Duke and The Citadel.  His best play was down the stretch in big games.  There wasn’t much not to like.  Bunkley wasn’t a pick that was pushed for by a scout or coach.  The whole organization wanted this guy.  He was someone that much of the league coveted.  4-3 teams all had to love Bunk.  He was strong enough to 2-gap.  He was athletic enough to play 1-gap.  3-4 teams could look at him as a DE.  Heck, some could consider him as a NT with his strength and power.

In his time as an Eagle Bunkley hasn’t lived up to his draft expectations.  He started for 3 years (plus the early part of 2010).  He played well in 2007 and 2008.  He was an above average DT in those years.  He didn’t make a lot of plays, but some of that is not his fault.  Bunk came here at a time when we moved to the 2-gap system in our base defense.  That limited his chances to attack upfield.  He had limited chances to rush on passing downs because also at that time Jim Johnson had moved to playing DEs on the inside.  That didn’t happen in the past.  Corey Simon got to play on 3rd down.  Jim first mentioned the possibility of using DEs on the inside when discussing the signing of Darren Howard in March of 2006.  I don’t recall us doing it that year, but we moved to it heavily in the 2007 season.  It was all we did from 2008-10.

What fascinates me most about Bunk’s situation is that he was a good player with Jim Johnson as his defensive coordinator and Pete Jenkins as his positional coach.  Bunk then regressed under Sean McDermott and Rory Segrest.  They are gone.  Juan Castillo has the right personality to get Bunk back on track.  Juan is fiery and energetic and a good motivator.  Jim Washburn is the best DL coach in the NFL.  He should be a major improvement over Segrest and that has to help Bunk.

The Eagles have had a mixed relationship with Bunkley over the years.  He held out and missed valuable TC time as a rookie.  That made the 2006 season basically a waste.  Bunk then played well for 2 years.  The rumors I’ve heard is that the Eagles approached him about an extension, but that Bunk wanted elite DT money.  He wasn’t playing at that level so the Eagles backed off the contract talks.  Obviously the last 2 years have done nothing to help Bunk’s case.   The team has been frustrated with him at times throughout his career because his play doesn’t always match his potential.

Right now Bunk is a mystery to us and the Eagles.  That doesn’t mean he’s someone to give up on.  You can’t ignore what he did in 2007 and 2008.  You also have to look at the position he plays and the erratic nature of it.  Albert Haynesworth was the most dominant defensive player in the NFL in 2007 and 2008.  He left the Titans for the Skins as a FA.  He was used differently by the Skins and wasn’t nearly the same player.  This past year they moved to the 3-4 and Big Al was a role player.  He isn’t any less talented.  Put on the WAS/CHI game.  That was the best performance by a DT all year.  Al was awesome in that game.  He needs to be in the right system.

DTs can take time to develop.  Big Al was nothing special in his first 5 years.  He totaled only 9.5 sacks and wasn’t dominant in any way (other than leading the league in face stomps).   The light went on in year 6 and he was great for the next 2 seasons.  Pat Williams was a backup for 4 seasons before he became a starter.  It then took him a couple more years until he became an impact starter.  Jay Ratliff didn’t really emerge until his 4th year in the league.

Bunk might fall flat on his face in 2011 and prove to be a guy who just lost it somewhere along the way.  He could also thrive in the new system and turn his career completely around.  He still has the talent to be a good starting DT.  And I’m curious as heck to see how he responds to playing in an attacking scheme for the first time since college.  Bunkley’s career can go in a number of directions.   I don’t trust him enough to count on a certain level of performance, but it won’t shock me if he plays really well this year.  Bunk still has the highest ceiling of any of our DTs.  If he thrives in the new system, that makes life a lot easier for the coaches and rest of the defense.  It makes things very complicated for Howie Roseman and Joe Banner, but that’s a good problem to have.

* * * * *

More on Quintin Mikell.  Let’s remember what we’re saying.  I expect him to leave because someone overpays him.  The Eagles aren’t going to match a hefty offer to Q.  They didn’t do it for Dawk.  I’m not saying the numbers would be the same, but the principle would.  Joe Banner has a piece of paper in his office that shows what the Eagles feel Mikell is worth in terms of salary.  If we can keep him for that figure, great.  If not, he’s gone.

The Eagles can have this attitude for a couple of reasons.  First, they liked what they saw from Kurt Coleman last year.  He showed that he can start and be a contributor.  Ideally, you’d like to get him another year or two to learn the ropes before making him a starter.  Kurt isn’t physically special.  He needs to know what is going on to be at his best.  Some young guys soak up the game quickly.  Others take time.

Also, the Eagles have a couple of veteran players targeted in FA.  We don’t know when/how this will happen, but at some point it is almost a certainty that we’ll have some kind of offseason.  The Eagles can add a player they really like or just someone to help get us through 2011.  That isn’t ideal, but neither is giving Quintin Mikell a big deal.  His leadership would be missed, but I think Nate Allen is ready to make a big step forward in that area.

* * * * *

Someone asked about Jamar Chaney and whether we should be concerned since his stellar play occurred late in the year when he had fresh legs and other players were worn down.  This is a good point and possible concern.

That said, I don’t think the fresh legs made him look substantially better than he would have been.  Jamar played in all games but the season opener.  He was a regular on Special Teams.  He got to play on defense in blowouts over JAX and WAS.  It wasn’t as if he joined the team at midseason and had a couple of extra months of total rest.  He certainly was in better shape than others because of his limited snaps, but even after he played for a few weeks Chaney continued to be highly active and productive.

The only way we’ll know for sure is when he only posts 5 tackles in the entire month of November.  Or if he has to borrow House’s cane to get around after games.


The Eagles and DT

Posted: March 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: , , , , | 26 Comments »
DT Antonio Dixon prepares to punish a RB.

DT Antonio Dixon prepares to punish a RB.

New DL coach Jim Washburn is bringing his “Wide Nine” system to Philly.  We’ve talked about what this means to the ends, but the new system will also impact the DTs.  Let’s go for a quick history lesson before we jump into what will happen in 2011.

The first thing to understand as we delve into this is that the Eagles don’t like to discuss things in detail.  Assistant coaches are normally off limits.  Coordinators talk about big things like star players, injuries, and matchups.  You don’t get them to get into the X’s and O’s of the scheme very often.  That means we have some facts to deal with, but also a lot of guess work.

Run defense was never a schematic priority for Jim Johnson.  He wanted his front seven to focus on the run, but he wasn’t going to sell out by loading the box or by getting huge players who specialized in run D.  He wanted smaller, quicker guys who would play the run, but also could get to the QB.

Jim had his DTs attack up the field.  He liked penetration and disruptive play from his guys up front.  In 2001 the defense had 103 TFLs.  Last season we had 63.  The DTs didn’t make substantially more plays in ’01.  They were more disruptive and created opportunities for others on a regular basis.  You knew the DTs would be in the backfield throughout the game.  This worked well from 2000-2004.

2005 was a throwaway season because of all the injuries and oddities.  That season was the Eagles version of Bizarro World.  At the end of the year DL coach Tommy Brasher retired and was replaced by Pete Jenkins.

2006 didn’t see any real schematic changes.  The defense was terrible, though.  They really struggled to stop people, especially on the ground.  The Eagles finished 26th in yards allowed and 24th in yards per attempt.  The defense was 15th overall in points and yards allowed.  There was a 4-game stretch where the team allowed 764 yards on the ground (TEN, IND, CAR, WAS).  That was a real low point.  The team still won the division, but the defense didn’t show up in the playoffs.  The opponents scored 20 and 27 points and combined for 359 rushing yards.

I think the struggles caused JJ to open his mind about adjusting the scheme.  Pete Jenkins specialized in 2-gap defense.  He now incorporated his ideas into JJ’s scheme.  I’m not sure if the change was total in 2007.  Did we mix in 2-gap to test it or go all the way?  I don’t know.  We certainly did make that change by 2008 and the run defense was outstanding.  We were 4th in rushing yards allowed, 2nd in rushing TDs allowed, and 4th in yards per rushing attempt.  Starting DTs Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson did a fantastic job of controlling the middle of the line.

JJ passed away and Pete Jenkins retired prior to 2009.  The DT play was pretty solid vs the run in the next 2 years, but getting pressure up the middle on pass plays was a major problem.  I don’t know if this was due to personnel, scheme, or coaching.  Rory Segrest had replaced Jenkins and just seemed to be in over his head.

After the conclusion of the 2010 season we saw a lot of change.  Sean McDermott was fired.  The assistants were let go.  Jim Washburn was hired to run the DL and bring his scheme to town.  Juan Castillo was given the job as DC.  So here we are.  Now let’s talk about 2011.

Washburn will have the DTs going back to the attacking style we used to use.  It isn’t exactly the same, but the basic principle is…play on the other side of the line of scrimmage (LOS).  You want defenders getting up the field and disrupting the offense with penetration.  I love the fact we’re going back to this style.  I prefer my DL to attack.  My favorite defenses always played a 1-gap style.

I think most people are on board with the change.  The players will certainly love it.  The question is how the current players fit the scheme and whether we have the guys to make it work.

Mike Patterson is the senior member of the DTs.  He was a terrific 1-gap player at USC and early in his NFL career.  He’s gotten bigger in the NFL, partly due to liking food and partly to fit the 2-gap system.  Mike now is about 6’1, 330.  He has good initial quickness.  He has a good motor.  Mike isn’t a playmaker anymore, though.  He doesn’t have the build or athleticism to thrive in an attacking scheme.  He could lose 15-20 pounds and that might change, but you can’t count on it.  The man has taken a pounding as a starting DT for 6 years.  I don’t know that shedding weight will get him back to his college playing style.

Brodrick Bunkley is next up.  Bunk is a tough player to assess.  He was a train wreck back in ’06 when he held out in the summer and reported fat and out of shape.  That year was a waste.  Bunk then played well in 2007 and ’08.  He didn’t make a ton of plays, but was outstanding as a run defender.  He was solid in 2009.  This past year he wasn’t playing to his old level and then hurt his elbow.  That cost him his starting job.  Bunk never complained, so I do give him credit for that.  He accepted his demotion and played okay after coming back.  Bunk is very powerful, but remains a pretty good athlete.  I think he’s got the size and skill set to fit the new system.  I know some people are down on him, but I’m not ready to give up on Bunk.  He played very well in JJ’s final 2 years.  He had a good DC and DL coach.  Bunk’s play declined with lesser guys coaching him and running the defense.  I don’t think you can ignore that fact.

Antonio Dixon is the man who replaced Bunk in the starting lineup.  Dixon is the biggest DT at 6-3, 322.  He’s not a massive NT type with no movement skills.  Dixon has a quick burst off the ball.  He hustles in pursuit of plays.  He is very powerful and tough to block one-on-one.  He made his share of plays, with 2 sacks and 4 TFLs.  Dixon is a guy that I’m sure Washburn is very intrigued by.  Antonio is just scratching the surface of how good he can be.

Finally we have Trevor Laws.  He looked like a major bust at the end of the 2009 season.  He had 17 solo tackles in 2 years.  He had no sacks.  He was awful as a run defender.  Double teams drove him 5 or more yards off the ball.  The Eagles hired Barry Rubin to be the new strength coach last offseason and that move had a huge impact on Trevor.  He changed his body.  He bulked up to the 295-300 pound range.  While he got bigger and stronger, he was still able to retain his quickness and agility.  Laws responded by playing very well in 2010.  He had 4 sacks, 13 solo tackles, 4 pass deflections, and even picked off a pass.  He was a disruptive force in the Nickel/Dime units.  Laws even became a functional run defender.  Trevor has the quickness and athleticism to be a good fit in the new scheme.  I think he could even vie for a starting spot.

Now let’s talk about the new scheme.  Washburn will have a standard 4-3 DT alignment where one DT lines up in the 3-technique (outside eye of the G) and the other DT lines up between the C and other G.  The 3-technique is considered the Under Tackle (UT) and the other guy is the Nose Tackle (NT).

The UT is supposed to be more of a pass rusher/disruptive type.  The NT is nothing like his counterpart in the 3-4.  The NT is also supposed to get upfield.  He lines up between the G and C and will often draw his share of double teams.  There are a couple of different ways the NT can handle this.  Smaller guys can stay low and try to get under the blockers.  Bigger guys can use their size/power to fight through the blocks.  Either way, the goal is the same…get into the backfield.

I am talking about the base defense in regard to the UT and NT and alignment/assignments.  There are times when the line will be in an under or over shift and the players will line up in different spots.  There are times when the DEs will move in tight.  A lot of times that will be for stunts.  Washburn wants his guys to attack, but does get creative with them so it’s not just a matter of going straight up the field on every snap.

Washburn used a variety of DTs in his time at Tennessee.  Let’s focus on the last 5 years for now.

Starters:
2010 – Tony Brown , Jason Jones
2009 – Tony Brown , Jovan Haye
2008 – Tony Brown , Albert Haynesworth
2007 – Tony Brown , Albert Haynesworth
2006 – Robaire Smith , Albert Haynesworth

Brown – 6-1, 295 … signed as FA after being cut by a couple of teams
Haye – 6-2, 277 ….. signed as FA after starting in Tampa
Smith – 6-4, 315 …. 6th round pick
Jones – 6-5, 275 …. 2nd round pick
Haynesworth – 6-5, 330 … Top 20 pick

Couple of key backups:

Kevin Vickerson – 6-4, 295
Randy Starks – 6-3, 312

Draft picks in the last 5 years:

2010 … David Howard – 7th round – Brown – 6-3, 304
2009 … Sen’Derrick Marks – 2nd round – Auburn – 6-2, 294
2008 … Jason Jones – 2nd round – EMU – 6-5, 275
2007 … Antonio Johnson – 5th round – Miss State – 6-3, 310
2006 … Jesse Mahelona – 5th round – Tennessee – 6-0, 311

I think you can see that Washburn was open to using a variety of players.  He did have 4 guys 6-4 or above.  We haven’t had a DT that tall as part of the regular rotation in a while.  I hope we change.  Big/tall framed DTs make it tougher for the QB to throw over them.  It is funny that the guy with the most starts for the Titans in the last 5 years is Brown, the smallest DT they’ve had in a long time.  That shows you the system is more about players than just body types.

Heading into 2011 I think Washburn will have a pretty open competition for the starting roles.  I think Patt and Bunk would get the first look based on their experience.  It wouldn’t shock me if Laws and Dixon outplayed them and ended up as the starters.  I think all 4 guys have the potential to start in the system.

I do wonder about Mike Patterson’s future.  He doesn’t appear to be an ideal fit.  You never know what Washburn thinks.  He might have wanted a player with Patt’s size/skill set in Tennessee and it just never worked out.  I doubt that, but you never know.  I think Mike could be trade bait.  There were several teams inquiring about him last offseason.  The Eagles didn’t shop Mike.  Teams called the Eagles.  He was an attractive target because he’s a good player, but also is signed to a good deal.  The Eagles didn’t want to deal him so they didn’t get into any kind of negotiations.  Patt wouldn’t draw a huge bounty.  You’d be looking at a 3rd or 4th round pick.  If the Eagles are interested in using a high pick on a DT, then dealing Mike makes some sense.

I don’t see DT as a position of need so much as one of uncertainty.  It actually could turn out to be a position of strength if Washburn is able to “coach up” the talent we already have in place.  We all know the Eagles draft for the future so they absolutely could go for a DT early, but Laws and Dixon are young guys with bright futures.  At the very least, I want to add one DT in the draft.  Jeff Owens is rehabbing a tough injury and isn’t a great fit for the new system.

There is no right or wrong is discussing the DT situation since it is so much of a mystery to us.  How will the current players take to the new system?  Which players will click with Washburn?  Which players will elevate their game based on contract issues?  I can’t stress enough the importance of fit, as well as buying into a new system.  Back in 1995 we had a pair of good starting WRs in Fred Barnett and Calvin Williams.  They were used to a downfield passing attack.  In comes young Jon Gruden with his WCO and short routes.  That went together like brownies and tartar sauce.  Barnett and Williams were out the door in 1996.  Irving Fryar stepped in as a free agent and put up Pro Bowl numbers.

I don’t think any DT will have such a sense of entitlement that he resists the changes.  If anything, I think the guys will covet the presence of a good positional coach and a chance to attack up the field.  I could see Bunk, Trevor, or Dixon thriving in the new system.  Patt?  He’s a steady Eddie type that will do his best no matter what, but just isn’t going to be a difference maker.

I will talk about some DT targets in the draft in a future post.  My thoughts change as I watch more and more tape.  I’ve got a couple of small school guys left to check out before I write anything.