Eagles OL Scheme Change

Posted: April 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Tags: | 12 Comments »

I was all set to bombard you with more draft talk, but then I tuned in to listen to Eagles Live this morning and Ross Tucker came on to discuss a variety of issues.  One thing he focused on was the different blocking schemes from last year to this year.  I had a pretty good feeling about how to explain some of the changes, but Tucker offered some real good insight.

Juan Castillo used a method where the OTs used a kick-slide to get back.  This gave the DE a free run up the field for a couple of yards.  The OTs had to then engage the rusher as he closed ground.  Guys who did well in our system needed 2 things:  long arms and a big bubble.  The long arms allowed the OT to initiate contact sooner, but remain back.  The “big bubble” refers to a big butt and thighs area.  Guys that are thick in that area are able to anchor better.  When a DE hits him, he’s able to hold his ground or maybe only give a step.

The interior linemen weren’t exactly the same as this, but the basic principle to give ground and anchor was the same.

Howard Mudd believes in short pass sets.  This means that the linemen will come off the ball and engage defenders immediately or close to it.  There will be no retreat and then hold your ground.  Mudd’s system is more about lateral blocking.  Castillo’s system is more “vertical”, meaning moving N-S.  Both systems have had excellent success.  I’m not knocking what Juan did.  Just want to shed some light on the differences.

Since blockers no longer will anchor quite the same way there is no need to have guys that are as big.  Mudd can find players that are 300 pounds to play in his system.  He needs players that move well laterally and use their hands really well.  Mudd said in one interview that he teaches his guys it is okay to turn perpendicular to the LOS in some cases.  This is generally a no-no in the OL world, but Mudd let’s his guys do it, as long as they do it correctly.

It will be interesting to see how the players adapt to the new style.  I think Peters will love it.  He’d rather attack than retreat.  Same for Todd and McGlynn.  Jamaal Jackson will likely be affected the least.  He either doesn’t have a player right over him or does have a NT who is so close that he blocked the guy immediately anyway.

Winston Justice is most interesting player.  He has the physical ability to handle the new system.  One of Winston’s weaknesses is how he would let defenders initiate contact in pass pro too often.  Now Justice will be attacking more from the snap.  That should be a fit for him, but there are no guarantees.  The biggest thing is to play with confidence.  If the OT stays close to the LOS and gets beat, the DE has a free run.  Winston needs to embrace the new system and be aggressive.  If he does those things, we should be fine at RT.  If not, King Dunlap and Austin Howard will be fighting for playing time.

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Tucker had some more interesting OL comments.  He doesn’t see the need for an early OT at all.  He is interested in seeing what Mudd can do with Dunlap and Howard.

Tucker also brought up the fact that the Eagles have guys like A.Q. Shipley and Dallas Reynolds that could be much better fits in Mudd’s system.  I think this is especially true of Shipley.  He and Mudd should work very well together.

Tucker talked about how in his mind RG is the key interior spot on O-lines.  He talked about how teams now slide protections to the left side so much that the RG is the one interior guy who single-blocks on pass plays the most.  Tucker said the Eagles should consider moving Herremans there.  He said the Steelers should move Maurkice Pouncey from C to RG.  Interesting comments, but I’m not sure I’d completely agree with the moving ideas.  I’m not a big fan of moving O-linemen around once they are established as good starters at a certain spot.

His thoughts at RG do mesh with the mess we had on the OL.  I picked on McGlynn several times during the year for helping Herremans out when Nick Cole was getting completely man-handled.  If Mike was taught to focus on his left, then he was just doing his job.  Nick could have used help, though, and I still maintain that should have been a bigger focus of the blocking schemes.

The interesting thing this year will be to see if things are smoother simply from the fact that we’ll head into the year with a lefty QB and all the training camp practices and preseason games will give us a chance to hone the schemes based on a lefty QB.  Last year we had to adjust on the fly and the results were slightly less than mega-awesome.

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Before any of you panic, draft talk will return tomorrow.  And I’ll answer some questions that built up over the weekend.  Once the draft is over and there’s still no CBA…I’ll probably have to resort to the blog version of a free-form jazz odyssey.   Someone call Derek Smalls for me.

12 Comments on “Eagles OL Scheme Change”

  1. 1 Thunderlips said at 6:56 PM on April 18th, 2011:

    Howard, Dunlap and Justice are all 6-6 + and 330 +. How does that fit in with what Mudd does? It seems like they’re all bigger than he’d ideally like (although Ryan Diem is 6-6 320).

    Also, I nominate that you begin blogging on breakfast meats after the draft.

  2. 2 SKOHR said at 7:01 PM on April 18th, 2011:

    I agree that the Eagles do not need to take an OT early. I could see them take a standout OG in the 2nd or 3rd but there is much better value in the 1st than spending a pick on a backup OT.

    Sure I like Jimmy Smith but beyond him I’m kind of stumped for who the Eagles should target in Round 1. What do you guys think?

    I’m running a Mock Draft with a few friends on my site SKOHRboard.com and as the representative for the Eagles, I was confounded with Jimmy Smith and Castonzo (the one “elite” OT who I feel can also slide into play RG) off the board. It took me a while but I talked myself into Akeem Ayers. Ayers is a playmaker at one of the biggest positions of need. In his college career he had 29.5 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks, 6 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 touchdowns. Pretty good.

    This move would give the Eagles a nice young LB group that can all get after the ball and make plays. The addition of Ayers would make this group a strength rather than a weakness. Keenan Clayton and Moises Fokou will battle for the Will spot. Stew Bradley with Jamar Chaney backing him up at the Mike. Ayers and Akeem Jordan will compete for the Sam position, and I have to believe that Ayers would win that battle. Despite the talent and depth this would give them, I’d still like to see them go after another LB later on who has slightly better instincts and speed.


  3. 3 SKOHR said at 7:10 PM on April 18th, 2011:

    Thunderlips, despite Justice’s size, he is one of the most athletic OTs to come out since 2006. Since then he has the 10th fastest 3-Cone, 2nd fastest 20-yard shuttle, the top vertical, and is tied for the 10th best broad jump according to ESPN’s historic combine results.

  4. 4 Rick said at 9:31 PM on April 18th, 2011:

    Can’t see Reid taking Ayers. I though Chaney looked terrific and they love Bradley. I thought Stew was better than most people and s/b 100% this year. Stew and Jamar will be the 4 down LBs and since Stew can play SLB/MLB and Jamar MLB/WLB Reid has options. I think it likely Jamar play WIL and Fokou SLB on 2 downs with Chaney replacing him as an OLB/SS hybrid. I see them going for OSU Homan in the 4th and possibly Rolle later. If Reid’s guy isn’t there at 23, and there c/b a DE among his guys, he’ll drop lower and go for a Harris early in the 2nd.

  5. 5 mattman said at 10:46 PM on April 18th, 2011:

    The RG idea is interesting… that’s certainly been the biggest weakness for several years running. Shawn Andrews is one of the more underrated ‘what ifs’ in sports. I can genuinely see the Eagles reaching a couple more Superbowls with a healthy Andrews locked in at RG.

  6. 6 ATG said at 11:01 PM on April 18th, 2011:

    Great stuff on the blocking differences. It raised some questions in my mind. Just speaking in broad strokes, will the new scheme be better, worse, or a push in various playcalls? For example, will it disguise the run better if the OT’s first step isn’t so dramatically different? Will the draws and screens be less effective if we aren’t drawing guys upfield as much? Stuff like that.

    As to after the draft, I don’t think there is much long-term material in breakfast meats. Beyond, “Yes, please. With a side of bacon if I could.” where do you really go? If it is to early to debate whether or not to use some of our multiple 2012 first rounders to move up for Luck, you could detour into the Lingerie Football League. If they run a combine that mirrors the NFL version, I would be interested in details on the measurables, bench press and split times. With embedded video. Just a suggestion.

  7. 7 T_S_O_P said at 4:22 AM on April 19th, 2011:

    Our RCB draft board would be really interesting to see, if we think there are CBs of value between 54ish and 105, then I really could see us moving up to get another signature defensive player.

    As we are a team that targets players, I wonder who is on the pick 10 – 15 list. Obviously, I hope Watt is one, Kerrigan could be another. Any others?

  8. 8 Norman said at 9:18 AM on April 19th, 2011:

    with a more aggressive offensive line ,will this enable Vick more ability to move and manipulate the pocket? It sounds like to me he’ll have more space to operate and see things coming.

    Also, having smaller, less talented offensive linemen, wouldn’t this make it more likely that Mudd’ll get his linemen deeper in the draft, round 4-6?

  9. 9 Davesbeard said at 10:13 AM on April 19th, 2011:

    It does seem that Mudds scheme allows for effective O-line play with less resources whereas Juan’s scheme needs very strong but also pretty agile players. With the level of investment we have on the line combined with Mudds system it suggests the potential for dominance.. We shall see.

    Your point is interesting T_S_O_P, since we lost some of our more established players on D (From 05 onwards really) we just haven’t had the signature/superstar presence on D. Since Dawk and Brown left Cole and Samuel have been our only players that fans of other teams would have heard of. I know name is obviously not hugely significant but if you look at teams like the Steelers they are studded with standout players. My point being that our lack of investment/success investing in defensive players is kinda showing through. As we’re all talked about, this draft needs to really bring in some talent on the D to add to last years, just like we did for the offence a few years ago.

  10. 10 eaglizeit said at 12:11 PM on April 19th, 2011:

    It sounds like Rodney Hudson would fit in well at RG. He’s very athletic, quick and has great technique. If McGlynn wins the job, Hudson played all 3 interior line positions and could step in when anyone gets injured. He should be there when we pick in the 2nd rd.

  11. 11 eaglizeit said at 12:26 PM on April 19th, 2011:

    Hopefully the Bills want to get ahead of Seattle to get a QB. If we swap picks for there 3rd & 4th rd picks we’d have 5 picks in the top 100 and still get Ras-I Dowling.

  12. 12 romanout said at 7:34 PM on April 19th, 2011:

    Good article, as always. I believe Randy Cross talked about Castillo’s coaching philosophy a couple years ago in an interview. If I recall it correctly, he mentioned how Juan’s system of having the OT backpedal before engaging the rusher was an old-school way of coaching and it contributed to the back problems that our lineman have had through the years (Shawn Andrews, anyone?). He also talked about how these techniques were totally different from what Jason Peters was ever taught and he was essentially re-learning. I’ll try to dig up the interview and post the link if I find it. Tommy, can you touch on any of that?