Scheme Talk, Vol. 37

Posted: July 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 18 Comments »

One of the readers over at BleedingGreenNation put together an excellent post that piggy-backed off my post about Iowa and Juan Castillo.  Route36 says that he thinks the Eagles will run some version of the Cover 2 / Tampa 2.  He offers good insight and gets an A+ for his use of visual aids.

I think we have to be careful when using the terms Cover 2 and Tampa 2.  People have very set ideas of what those phrases mean, despite the fact they aren’t necessarily as simple as we make them out to be.

All defenses are tweaked based on personnel and circumstances.  Think about how many teams run some version of the West Coast Offense and how varied they are.  Andy Reid and Jon Gruden’s offenses are quite different.  Both guys learned under Mike Holmgren, but each took different ideas away.

The Tampa 2 as Tony Dungy envisioned it is different from what the Bears run.  The basic concept is the same, but with variations.  Last year Bears LBs had 8 sacks.  The great Bucs defense of 2002 had 3 sacks by LBs.  The Bears have big, physical guys that blitz really well.  The Bucs had lighter, faster players that stayed off the line of scrimmage (LOS).  Chicago likes to walk LBs up into gaps to confuse the QBs and blockers.  They don’t blitz a substantial amount of the time, but do it enough to be disruptive and produce some sacks.

Tony Dungy didn’t always go at things the same way.  When he ran the Vikings defense in the early 1990s, Dungy had a pair of DTs that were under 280 pounds.  Those guys were very quick and disruptive.  Those Vikings teams were great against the run.

Dungy had 300-pound DTs in Tampa with Warren Sapp and Booger McFarland.  Booger was the guy who ate blocks while Sapp was the playmaker.

Tampa was solid vs the run, but they stood out on pass defense, in part because Derrick Brooks was such a gifted LB.  Suddenly there was a player in the middle of the field who could cover backs, TEs, and WRs.  He tackled anything near him and helped limit RAC yards.

Think about CBs.  Dungy at Tampa had Ronde Barber, Donnie Abraham, and Brian Kelly.  All went in the 5’11, 185 range.  Lovie Smith in Chicago has had bigger players.  Peanut Tillman is 6’1, 196.  Zack Bowman is 6’1, 197.  Corey Graham is 6’0, 187.  L0vie did have a couple of small guys start from time to time, Nathan Vasher and Tim Jennings.  The Bears have actually struggled to find stability across from Tillman.

Chicago and Tampa both run/ran the Tampa 2, but they did it in different ways.  Lovie Smith likes bigger guys.  Tony Dungy believes in speed, first and foremost.  Smith will blitz more.  Dungy used Ronde Barber to blitz, but preferred to rely on his front four.

We know that Castillo has said he likes the Bears style of defense.  I’ve said before that I think the majority of that comment is in relation to the effort with which they play.  Bears players relentlessly pursue the ball.  That kind of effort can be contagious.  Players come off the bench knowing that maximum effort is the minimum requirement.  Not every guy can be skilled, athletic, or talented, but effort should be universal.

I also think Castillo likes the fact that Chicago has a healthy balance of blitzing and Cover 2.  They don’t over-expose their CBs in man coverage, but also don’t sit in the same zone play after play.

We also can’t forget that Jim Washburn and the Wide Nine are the foundation of the new defense.  We know that for a fact.  The rest is all speculation, conjecture, and plain old guesswork.  The Wide Nine will dictate certain things.  The LBs will mostly be off the LOS because the DEs are walked outside.  That puts the OLBs in the DT/DE gap, but back off the ball a few yards.

I really can’t wait until we get to see the new defense in action.  I know some people have a fear of us becoming a finesse defense because they hear Cover 2 / Tampa 2, but that isn’t the case.  Reid specifically said one of the reasons the Eagles targeted Jaiquawn Jarrett is because of how physical he is.  Reid knew that we needed to be tougher on the back end.

As for size…we will get smaller.  We had a big defense in 2008.  That group played really well, but fell apart.  We’re now going more for speed than size, but Antonio Dixon is a big anchor at 325 pounds.  We might make a push for Albert Haynesworth who is in the 335 pound range.  We might keep Stew in the middle.  He’s one of the biggest MLBs in the league.  Chaney is 240 at WLB.  That’s a good build.  Nate Allen has very good size for FS.  We do need a big CB.  Curtis Marsh is a guy for the future and we might add a big CB in free agency.  We won’t have a bunch of Tiny Tim’s running around out there.

18 Comments on “Scheme Talk, Vol. 37”

  1. 1 Sjampen said at 3:55 PM on July 11th, 2011:

    Hey Tommy

    Great post as allways. Regarding Reid wanting a more physical team. How far do you think he wants to go/Is willing to pay to go?

    I really like mean defense. I want everygame our defense play to be the bodybag game. Look at the Steelers, they play tough, create turnovers, make receivers fear cathing the ball. When was the last time we sent a QB to the sideline, or even gave them a hit that they felt the next play.

    In the words of BDawk, we need somebody to set the tone and force the opponents to respect our defense.

  2. 2 Dan in Philly said at 4:38 PM on July 11th, 2011:

    Even if we got a detailed 100 page essay on what the coaching staff wanted the 2011 defense to be, we wouldn’t really know what they will become. Players get injured, develop suddenly, fall off a cliff, get signed as FAs, suddenly click with a position coach, etc and that’s just on defense. There’s also matchups with the offenses we will face, the changing nature of the NFL, fatigue, and so on. We can have a general idea of what we’re going to run, but like most defenses, the coaches will have to assess the true potential of every member of the squad as they determine what we will do best and how we will do it.

    I strongly suspect if we learn that we can get tremendous pressure with the front 4, we will not blitz a lot. If we are totally unable to get any push with these gentlemen, we will blitz. Whatever scheme we plan will have to adapt to factors which are not currently known by anyone. We can only trust in the extremely competent staff compiled around our DC, and hope Reid’s genius when it comes to personnel hit the mark yet again with the new DC.

  3. 3 izzylangfan said at 4:39 PM on July 11th, 2011:

    If the outside linebackers are playing in the large tackle-end gap created by the Wide-9 doesn’t that mean they might have a difficult time on runs to the outside. Especially true if you consider that the ends will be so hellbent coming around the corner to get to the QB they will be easy to block or fake out. Additionally if the run is to the tackle-end gap there will be only one linebacker to deal with to get to the second level. Does this then put greater emphasis on the CBs to play run support with the safeties back in cover 2. Does this play to Asante’s strength? Not really!

    First he slurs gays and now he is saying that he and Plaxico would make a great team. I don’t see any bonding with Maclin. Maybe he wants to get rid of Maclin and bring in Plaxico. My point is that for all his talent DeSean Jackson is a bit of a loose canon. I have always been afraid that he would self destruct (probably as soon as the Eagles give him that big contract). Maclin is someone you can build a team around. DeSean is a first class hot dog and possibly a lot worse. We still need one more good receiver in my view, just in case.

  4. 4 Fyzx Guy said at 6:07 PM on July 11th, 2011:

    with all of this Tampa 2/Cover 2 talk, does anyone know what Johnnie Lynn’s background is. If I remember correctly he is the secondary coach and would be pivotal if we are changing/adjusting the scheme in the back, just like Washburn’s wide 9 is in the front.

    Has Johnie Lynn worked with a cover 2, mostly man or mostly zone. Does he have a background with a zone blitz scheme? I know he has been around the league for a while and even spent some time as a D-coordinator.

    Just looking for some more info.


  5. 5 MF Joe said at 6:58 PM on July 11th, 2011:

    w/ the minuscule off season in mind, I highly doubt we’ll see any wholesale changes. If we do, we’ll probably be in trouble the first half of the season.

    I’m prettier than lawlor.

  6. 6 CVD said at 7:11 PM on July 11th, 2011:

    I agree about djax. As much as I love watching him play when he is on fire, I worry about his attitude. And I don’t think he is a bad dude. I don’t think he will shoot someone. I just think as far as a teammate and what he says to the media. If he gets paid, will he then start throwing hissy fits on the sideline when he isn’t getting the ball? he is on his best behavior right now, he wants to get paid and rightfully so.

    He already acts uninterested when things are not working. That really bothers me. I feel like when we are down and he isn’t getting the ball that he mopes and just acts like he wants the game over. And the miracle at the meadowland is different, we already made a huge comeback when he returned that punt. And he def doesn’t bond with Maclin. Maclin is the complete opposite of djax. And I don’t mind the djax celebrations, I actually like it when he does it. I wouldn’t be surprised if we cant agree on $ that he gets traded this year

  7. 7 Arby said at 7:54 PM on July 11th, 2011:

    You have to love DeSean’s intensity and passion to win. Forget all the other stuff: the competitiveness with Maclin, acting silly on camera, etc. And focus on the runback in the Giants game and being the first player to ever get the hefty Andy Reid off the ground for a chest bump. Seriously, we have to pay DeSean some serious dough but he’s not a top 5 or maybe top 10 receiver in the NFL. Does he know that and will he accept less than top pay or does his return game factor into the contract discussion to bring it up to the level of the top guys in the league?

  8. 8 Cliff said at 10:43 PM on July 11th, 2011:

    RE: DeSean Jackson

    I couldn’t disagree mor with izzylangfan in regards to Jackson. Did you hear what he was responding to? Yes, Jackson should have chosen his words more widely. But when someone asks you on live radio “have you ever gotten your dick knocked in the dirt?” How are you supposed to respond? Personally, I’d be speechless… what the hell? But DeSean is more abrasive, so he didn’t have a problem finding words.

    DeSean is clearly a passionate guy. He got really worked up over the bullying stuff. He got really worked up after games when you thought he was about to KISS Michael Vick. He could’ve demanded the limelight after the punt return in the Giants game, instead he told the world about Vick’s leadership in the game.

    What I take from this, is DeSean was right. He slips up one time and everyone forgets about the positive things he has done. Loose cannon? Since when?

    RE: The Defense

    Another thing fans will need to keep in mind in regards to the defense this season will be early growing pains. Without a training camp, the defense will need even more time to adjust to the new schemes.

    I invision a few weeks early in the season where our defense is getting pushed around my Eli Manning and Matt Ryan and the fans getting their panties in a twist over Juan Castillo’s job.

  9. 9 Cliff said at 10:50 PM on July 11th, 2011:

    @ Arby

    Sorry, I don’t mean to be rushing to DeSean’s defense here, but I’m shocked at the sudden lack of love for our 2nd best playmaker.

    Not top 5 or top 10? I’ll concede top 5, but if you don’t think he’s top 10, you need to start watching the games.

    1. Andre Johnson
    2. Larry Fitzgerald
    3. Calvin Johnson

    After that… who’s legitimately better than DeSean?

    Roddy White? Reggie Wayne? No way I’d definitively say either of those guys is better than DeSean. Greg Jennings?

    I hate personal attacks, but I think you’re nuts.

  10. 10 ATG said at 1:08 AM on July 12th, 2011:

    I am betting that Reid and Juan are getting a good chuckle over all this guessing. I find it hard to believe juan’s idea of keeping things simple is to revamp the defense. I think he is going to keep the same concept, but get rid of some of the crazier stuff and shift more of the focus to beating your man and doing your job. Ithink that is what he wants to take from Chicago (although taking their hotdogs too would be a good idea).

    On DeSean, he made a mistake and owned up. His positive actions off the field far outweigh that poor decision. The same is true of his on fid actions.

  11. 11 ATG said at 1:15 AM on July 12th, 2011:

    Please excuse the typos. I’m new to the iPhone and the tiny keyboard makes my fingers look like sausages. Mmm, sausage. With a side of bacon.

  12. 12 Tommy Lawlor said at 1:20 AM on July 12th, 2011:

    @ Cliff…

    I think you can absolutely make a case that Roddy White and Greg Jennings are better WRs than DeSean Jackson.

    I’ll put my thoughts up in a post tomorrow.

  13. 13 PhxPhilly said at 4:22 AM on July 12th, 2011:

    I think all teams run some Cover 2. It is a fairly basic defense, that even man teams use it occassionally. Teams like TB and Chi use it frequently. Colts have a great offsense and then play a ‘soft’ defense to make it difficult for their opponent to keep up with them.

    Tampa-2 teams have wons Super Bowls but it does not fit the Philly ‘tough guy’ mentality. Buddy Ryan had punishing defenses but could not get to the dominance the Ravens had in 2000.

    I would like to know what defense Ten ran behind the wide D-line concept.

    Personally I liked McDermott’s creative approach. Belicheat uses a very complex defensive scheme because he has very smart and versatile players who can run it. I think that makes preparation for NE extremely difficult for offensive coaches.

    However, playing 9-technique with your best player always in the same spot seems easy for offenses to eliminate. Of course, knowing where Peppers or Freeney lineup does not seem to help offenses very much.

    I guess the previous discussion on perspective is accurate. I think the key is having the defense that works best for your teams’ players. When joining a team a DC has the roster that was in place. Through draft and free agency the defense can obtain players with a better ‘fit’. I enjoy this discussion, even though I certainly do not understand the X’s and O’s very well.

  14. 14 TyPhilly21 said at 8:22 AM on July 12th, 2011:


    I can for sure say Jennings should be ahead of D-Jack.

    However, Roddy White and Ryan are products of each other, sum greater than the parts type thing(more so White than Ryan). White was very much ineffective, and nearly a bust until his 3rd season. His YPC has gone down 2 straight seasons, his YAC is always low(4.4, 4.4,3.3).

    DeSean has been a playmaker with 3 different QBs in 3 seasons. Doesn’t matter who is chucking it to him, he is gonna make plays. YPC-14.7,18.5,22.5. YAC-4.4,6.3,7.7.

  15. 15 CVD said at 1:53 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    i love djax. i love his celebrations. i love watching him play. but thats all when things are going well for him and the team. i hate watching him play when things arent going well or he isnt getting the ball. he seems like he just doesnt want to play.

    the thing i worry about is, i promise you he is on his best behavior right now. he wants to get paid. he wants to show you he is unselfish and a good guy. and he may be both of those. i dont play for the team so all i have is tv. but i worry that he is doing these things to get paid and then you will c the real desean. and i am not worried he will wind up in jail, i just worry about him as a teammate. i could care less if he calls someone a gay slur, i dont think he hates gay people.

    there is a reason we got him late in the 2nd round. he was a stud in college but everyone knew he was a diva with an attitude problem. andy reid and him wanting a big payday has really kept him in check. as long as he is a good teamate after he gets paid, i am cool with it.

  16. 16 CVD said at 2:02 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    i think roddy is a stud. i feel ryan is a little overrated.

  17. 17 CVD said at 2:13 PM on July 12th, 2011:

    cliff the more i think about it, the more i like the idea of tulloch. thats if they decide bradley isnt the answer. we need a good mlb. pff had a good article about him.

  18. 18 Arby said at 7:21 PM on July 12th, 2011:


    I’m not going to argue with your analysis of my mental capabilities and you are certainly right that I need to watch more football (right not I’d settle for ANY football….bring on the PeeWee’s!), but I’m not the only who thinks DeSean is not a Top 5. Here’s something from the ny times: which lists DeSean as 6th best.

    Hines Ward, not the best analyst perhaps, doesn’t even have DeSean in his Top 10: scp=3&sq=top%20ten%20recievers&st=cse

    ESPN has him at 8 but none of the 8 analysts had him any higher than 6th best:

    So I may be nuts, but apparently I’ve got plenty of company.