Scheme Talk, Vol. 37

Posted: July 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 40 Comments »

Geoff Mosher of the News Journal had a very interesting item in his blog post a couple of days back.  I’m late to mentioning it because I was so caught up in all the talk about DRC and other offseason stuff.

Mosher got Quintin Mikell to talk about a possible schematic change by Andy Reid and Juan Castillo.  Here’s the key bit of info:

Veteran safety Quintin Mikell, who stands to be a free agent soon, told me last week that coach Andy Reid has long thought about changing his defense to a Cover 2 scheme.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably heard new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo discuss a simpler scheme and his admiration for the Bears defense, which employs a “Tampa 2” look under head coach and former Tony Duny assistant Lovie Smith.

“I kind of get that vibe,” Mikell said, when asked if the Eagles were shifting from an aggressive, blitz-happy attack to a tempered Cover 2 scheme. “I know Coach Reid has wanted to run the Cover 2 for a long time. It seems like the past couple of years we’ve been slowly progressing toward that. It might be moving toward that. I think he [Castillo] is going to kind of tweak things here and there. It’s gong to be kind of the same 4-3 but I think it’s going to be a little less based on scheme and more based on guys just kicking somebody’s butt.”

This is what we’ve been talking about for several months.  Q is pretty much as out of the loop as us because of the lockout and the fact he’s a free agent, but his insight is still valuable.  He knows there was a lot of confusion amongst the players in the last couple of years.  I’m sure Reid picked his brain at times about ways to improve the situation.  If you want to simplify things, playing more Cover 2 is the way to go.

One point I’ve failed to make in regard to Cover 2 is that you can alter things a bit.  You can play two-man.  This is where the Safeties in the back play Cover 2 and the LBs and CBs play man coverage.  Not everything has to be just soft zones.

I still don’t know that the basic Cover 2 will be our primary defense, but at the least, we’ll see more of it mixed in.   It is easy to teach and learn, which is important for us.  We’ll have several new starters on defense and a short transition period.

I’ll be posting some free agency notes a bit later, but wanted to go ahead and get this covered in case anyone had further questions/comments on the defense.

40 Comments on “Scheme Talk, Vol. 37”

  1. 1 Boyboy said at 11:25 AM on July 20th, 2011:

    Just a thought regarding Cover 2 and our linebackers. Yesterday you mentioned Chaney could turn into our version of Lance Briggs. With Stew’s size and speed, do you think our coaches envision him as a poor man’s Urlacher?

    I think one way or another, he’ll be back in Green this year. I don’t think anyone is going to blow him away with a long term deal after his 09 & 10 seasons. Brian Billick doesn’t even have Stew in his top 13 FA LBs.

  2. 2 Tommy Lawlor said at 11:39 AM on July 20th, 2011:

    On his best day, Stew could be a poor man’s Urlacher. The problem is that we’ve not seen that day in a while. And I don’t know if it is coming back, or merely a thing of the past.

    That is what makes evaluating Stew so tricky.

    There is a lot to like. Big. Runs well. Smart. Natural leader. He’s shown the ability to shed blocks and play in space.

    The downside is that he’s only got 1 healthy season as a starter on his resume. He struggled with shedding blocks last year. He was highly inconsistent in space last year. He’s never been a tackle machine. Stew has playmaking potential, but 3 career sacks and 3 career INTs are hardly compelling totals.

    If he gets completely back on track, Stew could be a Pro Bowl MLB. We saw last year that when he’s not at 100%, he is a mediocre player.

    The Eagles, Stew, and his agent have a tough situation to work their way through. What’s best for everyone involved? What’s realistic?

  3. 3 McG said at 11:48 AM on July 20th, 2011:


    If you were going to line up with Chaney, Matthews, and Fokuo as your starting LBs would you be willing to put Matthews in the middle (since hypothetically he has better instincts and cover skills) or would you put Chaney there since he has experience (and is seemingly a strong enough combination of work ethic/smarts to grow into it)?

  4. 4 Tommy Lawlor said at 11:53 AM on July 20th, 2011:

    I would go with Matthews in the middle. Chaney has the speed to play in space. Fokou is fine at SAM.

  5. 5 Boyboy said at 12:13 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Let’s throw Stew back into that mix…would you consider moving Stew to SAM so Matthews can play the middle, then Fokou as a reserve? Or, is Stew definitely relagated to MLB if we resign him?

  6. 6 Tommy Lawlor said at 12:15 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Stew could be the SAM. He’s got the skill set for that job. However, he might be somewhat wasted as a SAM in the new scheme. I’ll touch on that in the post I’m putting up later today.

  7. 7 Boy said at 1:13 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Great article about who to stay away from in free agency:

  8. 8 Connell said at 1:32 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    If the eagles swap Kolb for DRC… is he a fit for the cover 2?

  9. 9 McG said at 1:35 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    @ boyboy… good read. thanks!

    That is the first legit argument I’ve read against Ike Taylor…lol

  10. 10 Cliff said at 1:35 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Grantlant tries too hard to write “cool.” Tommy’s humor comes off as effortless, whereas Grantland’s writers are too caught up in clichés. For example: “contracts whose net worth rivals the GDP of several developing countries.” The poorest country in the world is probably Zimbabwe. Their GDP in 2010 was $3.5 billion. Show me a free agent making $3.5 billion. Just sayin’.

    Ok… now that I’ve pulled the stick from my butt…

  11. 11 McG said at 1:45 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    @ cliff… tru dat… Nobody writes a football blog better than Tommy. This is my favorite website on the interweb.

  12. 12 Thunderlips said at 1:55 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Yeah, but Tommy doesn’t have footnotes…

  13. 13 McG said at 2:57 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Tommy does have “cliff notes” though…

  14. 14 Midnight Greenville said at 3:37 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Another article worth reading is Ray Didinger’s take on the available CB’s. He seems pretty high on Joseph and Taylor, not as much for DRC. I always feel like he gives a balanced evaluation and knows his stuff. Tommy–how do you generally feel about his evaluations?

  15. 15 Midnight Greenville said at 3:37 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Sorry, here is the link:

  16. 16 iskar36 said at 4:15 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    I have to say, DRCs poor season last year does scare me a little bit. I know Tommy has mentioned it a few times, but he has chalked it up as being in a poor environment, but then I read a comment like this from PFT:

    “Meanwhile, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic gave a hint to why such a talented young cornerback may be available.

    “Coaches have had to continually stay on him about study habits, consistency and attention to detail. After three seasons, perhaps the Cardinals have grown tired of harping on Rodgers-Cromartie,” Somers writes.”

    Clearly not the most comforting comment to read.

    On another note, while I like some of what Didinger writes, every time I read something he writes, I just get the feeling he goes out of his way to make Eagles fans uncomfortable. In this article for example, he points out that signing NA would take up most of the Eagle’s available salary cap space, and then sites that as a reason we will not sign him, but then proceeds to suggest that Dallas is a likely landing spot. Everything I have read so far this offseason suggests that Dallas will have to struggle with the cap and opening up space. If the Eagles, who have reportedly have around $20 mil of space can’t sign NA, how in the world will Dallas sign him, when it has been reported that they may need to cut Roy Williams in order to have enough space to resign Doug Free.

  17. 17 nzflyer said at 4:29 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    I think DRC will have the tools to fit in a two- man system. He is able to press and then the recovery speed to catch up if beaten. And depending on where he lines up and how many WRs/TEs the other teams show, if he gets beaten for a slant they’ll be running into LBs, if they beat him over the top, the QB would have to throw towards either a ranging Allen or towards Jarrett who will likely break his receiver in half.

    I really do think though, that with our coaching staff, any player that comes here will improve. And if it’s someone like DRC, who is on the cusp of being elite, I believe we will get him there.

    Add on top of that, our D Line is supposedly going to be creating a lot more QB pressure, therefore less time to think and throw, I see that as a big plus for our DBs who will have a job slightly eased due to a few extra errant throws per game.

    In terms of LBs, I think the only real way to judge them will be to do some mixing and matching during preseason games. Obviouly workout in next week in training camp(that’s right, next who has the physical tools to most likely excel in what we will do, and then go from there.

  18. 18 nzflyer said at 4:35 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    And when i say “on the cusp of being elite”, even though it is a bit of a stretch, from iskar36 has said it’s been his study habits etc that have held him back. That being said, he needs only to look at the difference in preparation that Vick now does and that should be motivation for him to realise more dedication off-field will provide the necesary dividends(performance,bigger contract, Probowl and potential SB) on field.

  19. 19 McG said at 4:48 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Not to mention the work ethic of the most studied CB currently playing the game, who has studied with such intensity as to have acquired mind reading capabilities (at least with the manning boys) none other than our very own Asante Samuel.

  20. 20 nzflyer said at 4:54 PM on July 20th, 2011:


    And that too.

    And one other thing to add. Who wouldn’t want to come play in the best division ? hah

  21. 21 Tommy Lawlor said at 5:15 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    There is risk to every move. Steve Everitt was one of the best Centers in football when we signed him in 1997. How’d that work out? Chris Boniol was a great PK in Dallas. He was a mediocre player for us. Darren Howard never lived up to the hype when he got here.

    DRC is a risky move, but the upside is so tempting that I’m willing to roll the dice on it. If he was a sure thing, he’d be unavailable because he’d be a Revis/Nnamdi type of CB.

  22. 22 nzflyer said at 5:18 PM on July 20th, 2011:


    My point exactly. There is risk of course, but I say we are at the stage where we take a gamble or pay a ransom for NA. NA is highly sought after and a bidding war is the last thing I want, especially when there are other viable options. DRC just happens to make the most sense out of all those viable opti0ns.

  23. 23 Midnight Greenville said at 5:30 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    What I find most appealing about DRC is that he doesn’t come with a big salary and frees up some salary to sign another impact player. So, when comparing him to Taylor or Joseph, it might be better to decide which you’d rather have: DRC+Charles Johnson/Ray Edwards/Jason Babin or Ike Taylor/Johnathan Joseph alone. If that’s the comparison, I’d go with DRC+

  24. 24 izzylangfan said at 5:35 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    While DRC seems a bit of a risk he has the potential to reach the elite level. One of the key factors for him to reach this elite level would be his personality. If the Eagles are really going to trade for him I’m sure they did their research on his character, coachability, and how he would fit in the locker room. As Eagles fans we have no choice but to trust Andy Reid on this one, and in the long run he is a good guy to trust.

    If it is in fact a trade for DRC it would help maximize cap room to fill other needs and we have quite a few on defense. So even if he is less than perfect if we get good value on the rest of the cap room spend we could end up with the best possible team. Just because we go to the cover 2 doesn’t mean we are going to be as dominant a defense as Chicago. We have a way to go to get to that level. We need to spend wisely.

  25. 25 EaglesFan_AL said at 5:41 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Do you think that Patrick Peterson would be a better fit for us than DRC? Would our “current” scheme favor one of them at RCB over the other? Would a Cover 2 scheme favor one of them at RCB over the other?

  26. 26 Boyboy said at 5:54 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Just want to interject something….

    I love RDiddy, but he does try (I think as an Eagles fan himself), to but stuff out there so the fans don’t get their hopes up. It WOULD NOT cost the Eagles all of their cap space for NA. Nor do I figure Dallas to be much of a factor for his services, as, according to John Clayton, they figure to be 20+ million over the cap when the new CBA is finalized. Maybe, just maybe the asking price from NA won’t get too far out of control.

    We dont’ know what Houston will do. I don’t know what their cap situation is. Maybe they have concerns about NA’s age, just like every organization should. We shouldn’t automatically assume that we’ll be outbid because we don’t “typically” pay big money on a player over the age of 30. Other teams probably have a similar philosophy.

    Anyway, I’m just saying…we shouldn’t rule out NA until the new CBA is actually finalized and we see where each team stands against the cap. NA has also been talked about in Detroit, but they too have put out “he’s too expensive” vibes. Just as Dallas and Houston have.

    Some team that will need to reach the new cap floor may be his biggest suitor. Say, Tampa for example. But, my primary point…yeah, this got long, is that the Eagles do have the room to go after NA hard if they so choose. Contrary to what my hero says.

  27. 27 nzflyer said at 5:57 PM on July 20th, 2011:


    We are not going to get Peterson. Period.

    One of things that really draws me to DRC is his age. Getting JJ,NA or Ike means we will be replacing 2CBs at the same time. If we get DRC, and Marsh and Lindley progress how we want, that is the best situation possible, especially with team showing more than ever 3 and 4 WR sets. We would therefore have quality CBs covering 3rd and 4th WRs and allows us the luxury of having good, quality depth for rotational and injury cover purposes. Whoever plays Nickel will be on the field 2 thirds of the time anyway in our pass happy league.

  28. 28 nzflyer said at 6:13 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    And what I meant by replacing two CBs at the same time, I’m looking ahead for when Asante will retire or move on(sigh)

  29. 29 Eddie said at 7:56 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    tommy, ever since the eagles drafted henery i was so happy. thought he would be amazing for any team he would play for. everyone assumes he will take over akers but no one has ever thought about this; we know andy loves his toys, so why not a K/P? we know henery can do both well. Henery can punt his first year, while learning from akers while he plays on his tag. next year he can become the full time kicker and punter. this is what i thought as soon as we drafted him, and no one seems to have brought up

  30. 30 mcud said at 8:29 PM on July 20th, 2011:


    It was brought up when he was drafted. Andy publicly said Alex Henery will not punt at any time this season (I suppose he would punt in an emergency if Sav/whomever gets hurt).

    Nice idea though.

  31. 31 mcud said at 8:35 PM on July 20th, 2011:


    The last time we had to replace both starting CBs at the same time, it worked out pretty darn well, don’t you think?

  32. 32 nzflyer said at 8:41 PM on July 20th, 2011:


    I don’t even need to go to the link to know what your talking about. Totally valid point, and it could work out just as well this time. I’d say it’s a longshot they both pan out the same way it did last time. And coupling that the business side where we can save money right now in getting DRC to use on our other re-signings. If indeed both Lindley and Marsh excel, excellent. We could potentially have 4 starting calibre CBs in Asante,DRC,Lindley and Marsh. Which leaves us in an enviable position. Keep them and enjoy the benefits, or use as trade bait to acquire further picks or trade for other positions of need.

  33. 33 D3Keith said at 9:26 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    I have to imagine that in the NFL, they’re going to play much more than just base Cover 2. Agree with Tommy (and hinted in posts in the DRC thread) that they can have a lot of fun with man under, flopping responsibilities with safeties, rolling coverages if necessary. I’m sure it’s not going to be totally vanilla.

    Cover 2 is a great defense for gambling corners to guess for picks, because if the corner comes off his man and guesses wrong, the burn potential isn’t too bad (unless its third and 6 and he gives up 7; maybe then don’t guess).

    Also, Tommy, wasn’t the last scheme talk Vol. 37? Are they all 37? lol

  34. 34 bringit91 said at 9:35 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Tommy tbe Eagles should have played Gaither at mlb and jordan at wlb in the packer game. Mcdermmots defense started out the first five games of 09 the 2nd best d in the nfl. The Dallas game the week before Gaither ran mcdermotts scheme perfectly with a back up defense.

  35. 35 McG said at 10:10 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Ok so let me get this straight… generally I hear football players talk about how they don’t appreciate being evaluated by or told what to do by non-football players, yet they are sitting back and letting lawyers (who obviously benefit the most from not having a settlement in the near future) tell them what to do.

    I was previously on the fence as to what side to take (players vs owners)… I think the players just helped me make up my mind.

  36. 36 Tommy Lawlor said at 11:09 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    @ D3 Keith…

    You’ll find I use certain numbers over and over. It is a silly thing that entertains me in a dumb way.

    37 – because that is the price Clark has to pay to stay in the tents in Vacation.

    237 – because that is the number of the room in The Shining.

    655321 – because that is Alex’s prisoner number in A Clockwork Orange.

    142 – because that is the number of the bus that Chris McCandless lived in on his Alaskan adventure/disaster.

  37. 37 Tommy Lawlor said at 11:14 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    @ bringit91…

    Strongly disagree. Omar has games where he is terrific, but he really needs the right circumstances.

    As for the beginning of 2009, look at who we faced.

    CAR – meltdown by Jake Delhomme
    NO – killed us
    KC – offense was terrible that year (new coach)
    TB – Josh Johnson at QB (new coach)
    OAK – JaMarcus Russell (new coach)

    The Packers would have eaten Gaither/Jordan alive.

  38. 38 Tommy Lawlor said at 11:16 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    @ McG…

    As long as the players approve the deal in a reasonable time tomorrow, I’m okay with this. Remember, the owners were the aggressors in this situation (this wasn’t a strike). The players want to make sure they are getting a reasonable deal.

    If it goes beyond tomorrow, I’ll start to get pissed off.

  39. 39 dewey said at 11:44 PM on July 20th, 2011:

    Can someone put Didinger to rest? I can’t remember the last time one of his player evaluations has come to fruition. I know he was a terrific writer once, but so was RR Martin.

  40. 40 Stephen said at 1:50 AM on July 21st, 2011:

    I just worry that some last minute panty-bunching by either side could lead to the crumbling of the entire thing. The sooner its all done and the ink is dry the better. That way we don’t have to worry about some owner or NFLPA lawyer trying to submarine the whole thing for their own agenda.