Linebackers Not Mourning Death Of the Wide-9

 Mychal Kendricks was asked how the change up front from Jim Washburn‘s Wide-9 to Tommy Brasher‘s more traditional scheme impacted what he was doing on Sunday.

The rookie linebacker paused a beat, gave a quick laugh, then turned to Jamar Chaney and said, “Should I answer that?”

He already had.

The linebackers (minus DeMeco Ryans, who always has his poker face on) couldn’t hide their relief. Their jobs had just gotten a good deal easier.

“It’s better for the linebackers,” Chaney admitted. “If you ask any linebacker what scheme or how they would want to do it, they would want the linemen to hold up the blocks and they go make the plays.”

Chaney explained that the defensive linemen are now maintaining their position in their gaps — thereby occupying offensive linemen longer — and reading the play before reacting. In Washburn’s design?

“There is no read. With this right now, they read the blocks. It’s probably harder for the d-line but it’s easier for the linebackers. It’s harder for them because they have been playing the Wide-9 and they have to make the adjustment, but it’s probably easier for the linebackers because everything will get more clear. Not saying that linemen aren’t going to get up on us, but they probably aren’t going to get up on us as fast. It just clears out everything.”

Members of the defensive front did not seem to be too put off by the switch, though it will certainly take some getting used to after having the old methods drilled into their heads day after day for months.

“Firing off every single play like it’s a passing down, Coach Tommy really doesn’t like that,” said rookie defensive end Vinny Curry. “So we just had to change a little bit here and tweak things a little bit there.”

Meanwhile, the positive effects seem to have extended into the secondary.

Colt Anderson, subbing at safety for the injured Kurt Coleman, said that the safeties benefit much in the same way as the linebackers when it comes to defensing the run, and that there is “a little less stress” when it comes to defending the pass.

One of the keys to the Eagles’ win Sunday was their ability to limit the big play. As you know, this defense has been suffering major breakdowns on a regular basis that have resulted in momentum-changing sequences . Against the Bucs they allowed three plays of 20 or more yards (all at the hands of Vincent Jackson), none of which went for touchdowns. The first Tampa TD came after a muffed punt that set them up at the five. The other two scoring drives took a combined 20 plays and almost 10 minutes of game clock to execute.

Things were tighter, and the change up front could be part of the reason why.

“Yeah, it helps,” said Chaney. “You know exactly where the D-lineman are going to be at all times, put it like that.”

Or, as Kendricks put it: “I didn’t have as many linemen in my face, so that’s always good.”

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  • morgan c

    For Reid allowing this Wide-9 crap to prosper for so long, much less installing it dogmatically by hiring Washburn before a D Coordinator, is reason alone that he should be fired. Remember this when you all start thinking there is a chance he is back. There is no chance. His mistakes in scheme and hiring over the past two seasons are so egregeious, rest assured that they will be impossible to look past.

    • 1972

      Why would you want a scheme that has never won anything in the nfl?D line did what it wanted to do all year, theyre an extension of their idiot coach. thats why it was never any continuity on defense.Good bye Andy

      • johngiam

        keep in mind reports surfaced that howie was the one pushing for wash, and he convinced coach reid…then again, howie quickly squashed reports by throwing Reid under the bus

        • eagles2zc

          So call “reports” were nothing more than some philly writer being a mouth piece for Banner. Banner is, as you know, the extremely bitter guy Lurie kicked to the curb in favor of Roseman

        • Philly Green

          So what if he did, that doesnt clear Andy of all charges.

        • fran35

          Either way, Andy has final say on this stuff. He’s the captain, he must go down with this ship. Now, if Lurie shitcanned Roseman as well, I would be even happier.

      • tag1555

        I didn’t hear too many complaints when we led the league in sacks last year. If the new system results in the problem we had with McDermott of not generating any pressure without blitzing, we’ll be complaining about that too, I’m sure.

        • 1972

          the team was terrible and never played the run.babins inflated numbers never impressed me last year. The weakness of the team WAS defense last year. So if u didnt hear complaints u werent listening.Talent is the main problem, scheme is the second problem

        • Are you kidding our run Defense was Horrible…. Babin had 18 sacks and 34 total tackles on the year!!!! that means he tackles someone other than the QB 16 times on the season…. that is Horrible. Teams Ran ALL OVER US!!! Our Defense stunk and we were 8-8. All you heard was complaints

    • fran35

      …What this guy said^^ I will force myself to read this every time I think that I may want Reid back to keep continuity for Foles. When you break it down like this, Reid’s errors in judgement were so bad that he must go. Plus, I think that with our RBs, we have to run the ball more next year.

  • areid

    Its a shame to think if we fired Washburn instead of Juan originally we might’ve had a halfway decent season.

    • Pomo

      Ain’t that the truth.

    • djack10

      you have to wonder if the external pressure of the fans made reid give up on castillo.

      • xlGmanlx

        The numbers show he knew what he was doing

    • xlGmanlx

      Maybe even a lights out defense. Things only got worse when they basically backed wash over Juan and wash thought he had free reign.

  • Bob A

    There is no such thing as a member of the back 7 that would rather play the wide 9. Starting with the point Chaney made about having to deal with lineman heavier than LBs, and moving to the fact that safeties and LBs have gaps too large to handle and too much run responsibility, CBs have way too little help in pass coverage and pretty much anything else that can handicap a back 7, the wide 9 is a disaster for those players. Anyone notice how Nate Allen was suddenly serviceable for the first time since 2010? Did he forget how to play football from Dec. 2010 until last Sunday? Did DRC go from being a pro bowl player to a total stiff and then suddenly revert to pro bowl form last week? Kendricks was a non factor for weeks, now he was suddenly making plays again. Chaney was useless except for last Sunday. Colt Anderson even looked good; you’ll remember when we last saw him he was committing the PI penalty against Detroit that ended Juan Castillo’s career. There may be some selfish DL ( ie: Babin) that think they are better off in the 9 but once guys like Cole revert back to being pro bowl,players, even they will realize they are better off with Brasher. Too bad he didn’t fire Washburn weeks ago. Todd Bowles is also a big winner here; he would have ended up being known as the worst DC in football history without any of it being his fault if they had kept the wide 9. I look for the defense to improve even more this week, now that Brasher has had more time to work with the team, as it is, they only gave up 2 TD last week( No D overcomes the punt returner coughing up the rock at the 5 yard line), and held the QB to a rating that was 70 points lower than Romo had posted the week before.

    • EaglefaninAZ

      Spot on with this post.

    • xlGmanlx

      But my question is, was Juan given the authority to really run the defense? Why couldn’t he just say, “you’re the line coach not the wide nine coach. Now teach what I tell you to teach” That and having Reid back him was all that was needed. This is why Reid must go, we can all say it was mistake, but the real mistake was not having the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing and show leadership when we needed it most.

      • Bob A

        No, and that was unfair to Juan, and to Bowles afterward.That’s why so many people turned down the chance to even interview for the DC position,once he hired Washburn, that’s why Castillo was his only choice. Reid was locked in to that dumb system and so was any poor guy like Juan that tried to design his game plan around it. There were probably times where Juan wanted to punch Wash out but he didn’t want to be disloyal to Andy . Andy turned around and fired him; his absurd spin to the national media was that he put Juan in a bad situation, so he got him out of it. I guess that means he felt Bowles deserved to be in this situation for the last 2 months. One of many reasons why fans that have watched this soap opera closer then the national media guys know Andy will be getting what he deserves on New Years Eve. He had a chance to do the right thing months ago and didn’t have the guts to do it until it was too late for him and his entire staff. I agree 100% that this is one of many reasons why Reid must go.

        • johnGiam

          lets not celebrate jolly st Juan either! I mean, the man did have Kendricks wasting his natural talents playing him at the sam all season, instead playing him at the WIL which is where the 30 other teams would have played him. surprise surprise, the results speak for itself, he was incredible against tampa…next step, he will intercept one of those tipped passes and take it to the house…just sit back and watch this kid turn into a beast these next 3 games!………….this was the most screwed up defense I ever remember seeing!

          • Bob A

            No question you’re right about where Kendricks should play, but I don’t know whether that was Castillo’s decision or not. They have such odd problems with heirarchy, who makes the decisions, especially on D, that Andy may have made that call.

          • johngiam

            castillo openly talked about how in HIS SCHEME, the same and the Wil are basically flip flopped! It was Champter 1 in his defense for dummies book!.. im just saying…

          • Bob A

            Actually,it’s all about defense for dummies. Mike Mayock just said on 97.5 that the reason they probably played Kendricks there until last week is because it’s easier to learn the base and sub packages when you start out at the SAM, once he was comfortable with both , they moved him. Hard to believe it takes some of these guys until December to grasp simple concepts, but there you are. On the other hand, Mayock isn’t the kind of guy that would say that Juan ( and then Todd), made a moronic decision, but he did say that Kendricks is at home at the WIL.

      • Ashley Leask

        Think that was the whole problem with that arrangement, the rest of the D had to fit around the Wide 9 and Washburn had no respect for Castillo and didn’t listen to anything he said anyway.

    • Absecon

      Damn straight! D-backs and linebackers sucked because the wide-9 sucked!

  • Mr. Magee

    Agree with many of the posts here. When you read the comments from the players – assuming they weren’t taken out of context – it’s hard not to see the the eagles’ defense as being anything other than a case of the tail wagging the dog. Looks like a total failure of leadership.

    Did any of you happen to catch the report (last week, I think) that when Roseman was accused of having been instrumental in the hiring of Washburn, he released a statement saying that it was basically a lie, and that Andy has final say over all football decisions?!!

  • Johnny O

    love this point: “…The first Tampa TD came after a muffed punt that set them up at the five. The other two scoring drives took a combined 20 plays and almost 10 minutes of game clock to execute..”
    as if giving up 20 plays and chewing up 10 minutes is somehow soooo much better than getting torched deep for 80 yards on 1 play. getting the ball driven down your throat for a long drive is not exactly what we’re looking for either…i’m all for keeping an offense on the field for longer periods of time in a bend but dont break AS LONG AS THE DEFENSE TAKES ADVANTAGE OF THE ADDED OPPORTUNITIES TO FORCE TURNOVERS but since we’re not doing that either, makes no difference to me how we lose.
    hopefully getting back to a more traditional front with the Dline in a RandR with sound gap control, allowing the LB’s to flow without fighting through some behemoth on them in .5 seconds will improve the defense as a whole. 95 should stay on the weak side with less responsibilities for the strong side and the TE – let him flow to the ball and cover the backs out of the backfield who are the same size and speed. 5’10 covering 6’5 is never a good thing…
    if nothing else DRC wont get flagged for PI’s as much since he doesn’t have to play Rape Coverage any longer with the whole sale sellout going on in the front 7. Nahmdi will still get torched but he would in any defense – i used to think the safeties and the scheme were what was screwing him up because he’s been around so long, has seen so much, so well spoken you would think he knows what he’s talking about – but maybe he just sucks, was never that great to begin with and just another example of this admin missing wildly on defensive players. 10 years in the league, 15 total picks, 8 coming in the 2006 season. the news on him 2 years ago was “oh his INT numbers were never that great cause no one would throw his way…” uh huh, that’s what it is…

  • birdpoop

    Eagles applied wide nine last year, got sacks, but overall defense kind of average and let us down at important times. We notice that NO OTHER TEAM installed the wide nine. Andy has a lot of nice head coach qualities, but he often seems too slow to give up on something that doesn’t work. Example: “I can change M Vick from a running passer to a pocket passer” and so Vick gets beat like a rag doll. Example: “Offensive balance? Don’t need it… passing is all that really matters” and so opponents find the eagles easy to figure-out, and O linemen don’t get their dessert (firing out for a run-block) and they wear-out. Example: “Speed is what matters, speed beats size and strength, so let’s overload on speed” and so a small speedy receiver or two gets smacked and then hangs back, and we don’t have enough size to catch a fade in the end zone, and the world’s fastest little linebackers get swallowed up against the run. It’s great to try to innovate, but after a while you have to take a critical look at your results, but Andy loves his theories too much. Look at teams that have won the big games consistently, they seem to be built for a healthy run-pass ratio, they RELY on big receivers to beat corners, they have big strong linebackers who can handle o linemen and stop the run, they have heavier/stronger safeties who tackle securely and make receivers “think” when they run routes over the middle… you’re a good guy, Andy Reid, but since you didn’t find the time to evaluate whether your theories were working, “times-up”.