Blitzing Through The Years

Posted: May 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 15 Comments »

Chris McPherson of has an excellent article up on the Eagles and blitzing.  He compared the 2010 season to 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2008.  You can see how the blitz totals and percentages went up over the years.

Jim Johnson used to be more conservative with his blitzes.  Forget percentages for a minute and let’s just look at the totals.

2001 – 174 blitzes

2002 – 162 blitzes

2004 – 196 blitzes

2008 – 225 blitzes

2010 – 223 blitzes

There are a lot of different ways to analyze this.  I don’t know what is right.  Should make for an interesting discussion.

* In the 2001-2004 period we used a 1-gap system with the DTs and had guys that were good interior pass rushers.  There wasn’t as much need to blitz.

* 2001 and 2002 we had big, physical CBs and the rules let them be very handsy with receivers.  That changed in 2004 and DBs can’t play the same way anymore.  If you can’t cover as tightly, you may feel the need to blitz more.

* The 2001 and 2002 teams didn’t have nearly as explosive an offense as we do today.  You would think that playing with a big lead would put more emphasis on rushing with just 4 guys.  That doesn’t seem to be the case.

* QBs seem to be better than ever at getting the ball out quickly.  It would be interesting to see if blitzes are done today still with the focus being to get to the QB or is there more of a desire to simply throw off his timing since you knew the 4-man rush wasn’t likely to get there.

* Thoughts?

* * * * *

Jimmy put up a couple of interesting posts at BloggingTheBeast.  First up was the most overpaid players in the NFC East.  Only one Eagle made it.  It was interesting to see how many guys made the list, but only a few years back we worried about how good they would be against us, guys like WR Roy Williams, DT Albert Haynesworth, or DT Chris Canty.  It is also interesting to see that Jerry Jones overpays his own guys.  He’s loyal, but to a fault.

Jimmy also posted his list of most underpaid players.  This is kinda flawed because several guys are still working on their rookie deals.  They’ll be paid significant money soon enough.  Doing a list of strictly guys working on post-rookie contracts would have been tough, but very interesting.  Trent Cole and Jason Witten are definite bargains and on the list.  Cole knows he’s underpaid.  It will be interesting to see if the Eagles ever do anything about that.

As excited as we all are about free agency starting some time this summer, you do have to pause and reflect after looking at the overpaid list.  FAs can be impact players or they can underachieve, but in a really annoying, high profile, expensive way.  I’m all for us going after some FAs, but always remember…caveat emptor.

15 Comments on “Blitzing Through The Years”

  1. 1 izzylangfan said at 6:43 PM on May 25th, 2011:

    The thing about blitzing in the 2008 through 2010 period was that we had to blitz because we ceased to get enough pressure on the QB with just the front four. With the 2 gap technique we had no pressure up the middle which allowed opposing QB’s to step up even when we got good pressure from the ends. But even though we blitzed more in that period our blitzes were less effective because opponents knew we had to blitz and thus were prepared -as in the play-off game against the Cardinals and Kurt Warner. Accompanying the increase in blitzing has been a long term decline in defensive talent. Perhaps we survived the transition from Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent when we moved to Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown. But Asante Samiuel and Ellis Hobbs didn’t do it. You can’t leave Hobbs on an Island because his man will catch the pass no matter how good Asante is. Dawkins went from great – to you have to put him on the line to blitz because he couldn’t cover that well – to gone. (How many of those blitzes were because we had to use Dawkings that way.) We lost trotter. We never really replaced Hugh Douglas because if you double and tripple team Trent Cole he disappears. Douglas always created havoc no matter what you did to him.

    There are quite a number 4-3 of teams that use one two-gap interior lineman. But I never saw anyone but the Eagles use two. If you look at the disruption stats of Bunk and Patt they were in the 1% to 2% of pass play range. But the best defensive lines have an interior lineman that can disrupt 5 to 10% of pass plays. Thus you have two ends and a tackle that are getting after the QB, the Eagles had only two guys going after the QB. Jim Johnson always used to defend the pass first – even when he has the two two-gap tackles. But after his death we became a great run defense team and mediocre against the pass. This seems absurd for a team committed to the West Coast Offense that accentuates the pass. That is because Reid believes that a good passing offense is the way to win.

  2. 2 ATG said at 9:20 PM on May 25th, 2011:


    I found it interesting that your observations came from the perspective of blitzing when you are forced into it. You could also look at the data from the perspective of always wanting to blitz, but being forced not to by personnel and situation.

    For example, in the early years our offense wasn’t as potent and so we couldn’t force teams to pass as predictably, and so we blitzed less.

    To me, this fits with the blitzes always being most frequent on third downs. We are not blitzing because we need to – we just stopped them twice – but because we want to and see an opportunity. It also explains why in ’04 and ’08 we blitzed more early – we had the offensive firepower to allow JJ to take more chances – as well as more overall – teams were forced to abandon the run.

  3. 3 Tommy Lawlor said at 10:20 PM on May 25th, 2011:

    @ izzy…

    The 2-gap DTs were part of the situation, but remember those guys only play on base downs. On passing plays we went Nickel and had Abiamiri/D Howard at DT. Those guys were good interior rushers.

  4. 4 Tommy Lawlor said at 10:25 PM on May 25th, 2011:

    @ ATG…

    I think Jim Johnson wanted to blitz to a certain extent, but all DCs love when the DL can get pressure on their own.

    It would be great to be able to have a beer with JJ and find out what he ideally wanted and which year was his favorite defense. I bet he could tell some good stories.

  5. 5 Davesbeard said at 5:09 AM on May 26th, 2011:

    It does show that it wasn’t McDermotts timing of the blitz that was the problem, he was almost identical to 2008 JJ. The issues were down to getting too cute in coverage.

    The surge in blitzing does seem to tie in with our redeuced talent on the DL as people have suggested but as you said Tommy I think the development of modern QB’s and the passing game has had as much of an effect as anything else. I can see why you’ve not managed to come up with a definitive opinion, its affected by too many other factors.

    Just comes down to not enough players making plays, be it on the blitz or not.

  6. 6 ATG said at 12:49 PM on May 26th, 2011:


    I think the McD dropping Cole into coverage meme gets overstated. JJ did it too. There were had numbers on Igglesblog, near the end, and I think the totals worked out roughly to the equivalent of McD dropping Cole into coverage for one full game. That sounds like an awful lot, until you compared to to JJ’s last year, where it was the equivalent of dropping him into coverage for 3 quarters. Again, I and working from memory here, but this wasn’t a new wrinkle McD installed.

  7. 7 Eric said at 1:08 PM on May 26th, 2011:

    I’m sort of in the camp that Cole isn’t underpaid by too much. He usually disappears late in the season and definitely in the playoffs (1.5 sacks in 6 career playoff games). Strike that up to lack of personnel around him or whatever you want to defend with, but the facts are the facts.

    He’s definitely not in the caliber of some of the elite pass rushers. He’s more like 2nd tier.

  8. 8 Cliff said at 1:18 PM on May 26th, 2011:

    It’s to evaluate Cole like that though because he hasn’t really been allowed to be a PASS RUSHER in the same way a Dwight Freeney or Jared Allen is allowed to be.

  9. 9 Davesbeard said at 1:53 PM on May 26th, 2011:


    I wasn’t referring to that so much as some of the crazy assignments players were sometimes given. Times like the WLB being asked to sprint across the formation after the snap to try and get on top of a slot receiver split out to the strong side. I can remember a huge play (against the Cowboys possibly?) where the WLB actually managed to run into the MLB trying to cross the formation and gave up a big reception. Some of it was clever, some of it was too cute.

  10. 10 mcud said at 2:02 PM on May 26th, 2011:

    I think the main issue with Cole’s play late into the season and the playoffs is the fact that the guy never gets off the field. Cut his snaps by 15-20%, and I would bet you’d see a 15-20% increase in his sack total in December and January.

    I do agree that Cole is a notch below the true blue-chip DEs in the league, though not from lack of effort. He’s a Pro Bowl guy, not an All Pro. Nothing wrong with that. Clyde Simmons and Hugh Douglas did fine for us while playing in that tier.

    Regardless, I find it amazing that Trent hasn’t held out yet.

  11. 11 Eric said at 2:32 PM on May 26th, 2011:

    This is obviously conjecture at this point, but is he really on the field any more than any other elite pass rusher?

  12. 12 Eric said at 6:16 PM on May 26th, 2011:

    Im pretty sure that Cole is one of the 4-3 DEs in the NFL there plays the most snaps together with Tuck and Allen.

  13. 13 Jeevan said at 9:49 PM on May 26th, 2011:

    Kolb should have been on the list. He made 11 million last year as a backup. I also think Joselio Hanson should have made the list.

  14. 14 Stephen said at 1:02 AM on May 27th, 2011:

    It’s interesting, I’ve been watching the NFL players poll top 100 players today and the players actually have Trent Cole Ranked ahead of Jared Allen, and about on par with Mario Williams. Seems kind of absurd as fans and people watching the games, but obviously the players feel like Trent Deserves props.

    Watching how the players poll rankings stack up against the fans top 100 rankings is very interesting. some guys like Vontae Leach and Brian Waters are 100 positions apart in the two polls, thats a big gap in perception!

    I’d love to have some of the players go on record about why they rank some people where they do.

    Also my personal feeling is that I would trust the players to tell me who the best players are before I would trust the fans (the players have to actually get on the field and play against these guys after all) even if it seems pretty unreasonable from our perspective (Trent Cole ahead of Jared Allen for instance). My gut feeling though is that most fans probably think they know better than the players :).

  15. 15 D3Keith said at 10:07 PM on May 29th, 2011:

    Good point about free agent signings. They’re great for offseason excitement, but I’d bet about half don’t pan out or don’t live up to expectations.

    It’d be an interesting blog post.