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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